Austin, TX

Greg Abbott Challenges School Libraries Over Pornography Books Causing Confusion

Tom Handy

Governor Greg Abbott argued in a letter to the Texas School Board in Austin with concerns about the pornographic books that Texas libraries have.

Abbott wrote:

"You have an obligation to Texas parents and students to ensure that no child in Texas is exposed to pornography or other inappropriate content while inside a Texas public school."

This caused some confusion with the Texas School Board.

"We have received Governor Abbott’s letter regarding parent concerns about books and their content reportedly found in some Texas public school libraries. We are confused, though, as to why this letter was sent to the Texas Association of School Boards (TASB), which has no regulatory authority over school districts and does not set the standards for instructional materials, including library books.
The role of a school board primarily includes establishing a strategic plan for the district, adopting policies in public meetings, approving the district’s budget, and selecting and evaluating a superintendent.
In most school districts, the review and selection of individual library materials traditionally has been an administrative responsibility managed by professional district staff.
Of course, school board trustees care deeply about parent concerns and community input. That’s why local school boards have policies and processes in place for parents to express their concerns about any matter affecting their local school community — including the challenge of library materials."

Is Abbott using politics since elections are next year?

Some constituents believe Governor Abbott is trying to gain support from his party since his reelection coming up in November 2022.

“It’s mostly political posturing. The fact that this is labeled as pornography is misleading, it might be considered to be too far for some students, maybe too much. But it's clear that this is politically motivated and connected to these larger concerns about how the state polices what school boards can do," said University of Houston political science professor Brandon Rottinghaus.

Abbott’s outbreak comes after Fort Worth Republican Matt Krause launched an investigation on schools that carried 800 books that mentioned sexuality and racism.

Krause is running for re-election and is against teaching critical race theory.

Rottinghaus added:

“This is the latest set of buzzwords and problems that have been created by Republicans to suggest that basically, that local school boards have gone too far and that their students shouldn't be exposed to this. This is a new confrontation with respect to the kind of culture wars that we're seeing."

An Austin based trustee said the issue is about poorly written laws and mandates.

Austin ISD trustee Dr. Kevin Foster said:

“The real problem is the extent to which badly written laws and badly written mandates have led us to teach badly, not have good materials, limited good discussion. That's the bigger problem. [It's] when politicians get into our classrooms in ways that do not reflect an interest in our kids actually learning. Politicians are often using people and professions for political stunts. Do they actually care about our students? Do they actually care that history is well represented?”

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