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The School Boards Association responded to the governor in a letter, stating that it “does not have the requisite authority” to modify school programs.
Gov. Greg Abbott last Monday asked the Texas Association of School Boards (TASB) to determine the extent to which “pornography or other inappropriate content” exists in public schools across the state and to remove it if found.
“A growing number of parents of Texas students are becoming increasingly alarmed about some of the books and other content found in public school libraries that are extremely inappropriate in the public education system,” Abbott said in a letter to the TASB.
“The most flagrant examples include clearly pornographic images and substance that have no place in the Texas public education system,” the Republican continued. “These parents are rightfully angry.”
While content and textbooks must be approved by the State Board of Education, Abbott noted in his letter that materials found in libraries or other classroom resources are reviewed by the districts themselves.
So, the governor said, individual school boards should take the initiative to remove any inappropriate content without being accountable to the state.
“Parents have the right to shield their children from obscene content used in schools their children attend,” Abbott said. “They are right that Texas public schools should not provide or promote pornographic or obscene material to students.”
Abbott argues in the letter that the Texas School Boards Association has an “obligation” to identify any inappropriate material in its schools and “remove such content.”
“We do not have authority over school boards”
This Wednesday, the TASB addressed a letter to Abbott in response to his missive on Monday, in which it “respectfully” cleared itself of responsibility and explained what its true role is in school districts.
“We felt We felt it was critically important to respond to your letter to clarify the work we do here at TASB, clarify the primary responsibilities of school boards, and respectfully note that regulatory agencies like the Texas Education Agency (TEA) and State Board of Education (SBOE) are more appropriate venues for the type of monitoring that you ask for in your letter,” wrote Dan Troxell, TASB’s executive director.
“Based on the requests outlined in your letter, we want to make clear that TASB has no regulatory authority over school districts and does not set the standards for instructional materials, including library books. Rather, we are a private, non-profit membership organization focused on supporting school governance and providing cost-effective services to school districts.”
The TASB indicated that its work is always aligned with the Texas Framework for School Board Development as set forth by the TEA on its website, and stated that nowhere in the bylaws is a responsibility cited for the review of library books and/or other instructional materials.
The exchange between Abbott and the TASB came in the midst of Virginia’s hotly contested gubernatorial election, in which the role of parents and how much influence they should have in their children’s education was a central issue.
Republican Glenn Youngkin who claimed victory in Virginia on Tuesday based much of his election campaign on advocating for parents and children’s education, which appears to have appealed to the voters who defined the election dispute.
The issue of sex education and the teaching of Critical Race Theory has become a national debate and has generated a spontaneous reaction among parents and representatives around the country.