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School Policies | When you know better, do better

By Staff | Feb 22, 2024

To the editor:

Are you kidding me? Gov. DeSantis now blames “activists” for “hijacking” the process of banning books. He is now in support of a proposal that will limit book bans in schools. He even argues that the idea that he enabled book bans is a “hoax” and “fraud” stating that books bans are “theater” and “performative.” Really Governor? You’re saying this now after 126,000 books were pulled from Lee County classrooms and libraries, 50,000 of which are still waiting to be vetted? I guess public opinion is, indeed, powerful. Or maybe it was the successful PEN America lawsuit against the district of Escambia for banning 1,500 books, violating First Amendment rights.

Think of the ramifications of your actions, Governor. It’s too late for the hundreds of classrooms that are without teacher-purchased classroom libraries, and the hundreds of teachers who have resigned or taken early retirement due to fear of reprimand, termination and loss of certification. Case in point is the North Fort Myers 30-year, award-winning veteran teacher who resigned because he could no longer work under such exclusive, restrictive conditions. How many other teachers wish they could do the same, but are financially forced to remain, working in fear?

It’s too late, Governor, for the districts that have spent tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars to purchase thousands of “acceptable” books for each classroom after removing thousands of teacher collections. It’s too late for the taxpayer money spent to pay hundreds of staff hours for book challenges. Will you now use more taxpayer funds to reimburse districts for these wasted expenditures?

And spare me from hearing the word “indoctrination” one more time. Teachers teach — period. They follow the approved Florida curriculum (the subject of a whole different issue!), create approved lesson plans, and TEACH. In no way, shape or form do they indoctrinate students! Come on folks. Children do not become LGTBQ by proximity or words. It is biological, not choice. So stop using a term that has absolutely no application, implication or sense.

This is NOT 1930s Nazi Germany. Or is it? Book bans, prohibition of employee preferred pronouns, examination of what personal items can be displayed, restriction of what teachers can/cannot say to students, potential policing of staff due to their personal identities? Must some teachers refrain from displaying family pictures simply because their families do not conform to the “norms” as defined by hatred?

Our parents warned us to “think before you act.” We cannot allow government officials to panic and crumble under the demands of verbally abusive religious and political groups. Once a decision is made, it is too late to take back words without leaving behind a path of injustice and ruin. I implore legislators and school board members to do what’s right for our children. In the words of Maya Angelou, “When You Know Better, Do Better.” Apparently, Gov. DeSantis is doing just that.

Jill Pellis,

Lee County resident

Retired public school principal and member of The Purple Group of Lee County