It would be harder to ban school textbooks in California if the state Legislature passes an Inland Assemblymember’s bill.
Calling it a stand against “white Christian nationalist extremism,” Assemblymember Corey Jackson plans to amend one of his bills to require a supermajority vote by local school boards to ban textbooks.
AB 1078 also would set up an appeals process for a book ban involving county boards of education. Introduced in February, the bill passed the Assembly May 30 by a 62-16 vote and is currently before the state Senate.
Provisions requiring a supermajority and an appeals process aren’t currently in AB 1078, but that language will be added through amendments next week, said Daniel Peeden, a Jackson spokesperson.
In a Tuesday press release, Jackson, D-Perris, noted the unfolding controversy over the Temecula Valley Unified School District board’s decision last month to block a history textbook because its supporting materials mentioned the late LGBTQ civil rights leader Harvey Milk.
Board President Joseph Komrosky, without elaborating, called Milk “a pedophile” during a May 16 meeting in which the board voted 3-2 against bringing the book into the district. The decision drew a backlash from parents, LGBTQ activists and Gov. Gavin Newsom, who called Komrosky “an ignorant person” on Twitter.
“Congrats Mr. Komrosky you have our attention,” the governor added in a tweet that linked to a TV news report about the board’s action. “Stay tuned.”
Komrosky and the school district did not respond Tuesday to requests for comment.
Jackson’s bill likely would have left Temecula’s five-trustee board one vote short of rejecting the textbook. The board’s conservative majority — Komrosky, Danny Gonzalez and Jen Wiersma — vote as a bloc with the other two board members, Allison Barclay and Steven Schwartz, voting in opposition.
Temecula isn’t the only school board to reject a textbook. School boards nationwide have debated book bans, and in April, the Murrieta school board rejected an 11th-grade social studies textbook on the grounds it contains elements of so-called critical race theory and negatively portrays former President Donald Trump.
Jackson’s office said the Temecula board’s decision “not only stifles academic freedom but also perpetuates the exclusion of diverse perspectives from educational discourse.”
“It is disheartening to witness the rise of white Christian nationalist extremism, which seeks to erase the invaluable contributions and narratives of marginalized communities,” Jackson, who is Black and LGBTQ, said in his press release.
“As a Christian myself, I am deeply appalled that these individuals are perverting our faith to sow division and suppress the histories of others. This will not happen on my watch. AB 1078 is a necessary response to protect our children’s access to diverse perspectives, encourage critical thinking, and promote inclusivity in our schools.”
The Californians for Equal Rights Foundation opposed an earlier version of AB 1078.
“This effectively creates a layer of ideological hijacking by state bureaucracy,” the foundation said in written remarks on the bill. “Local control … is a fundamental principle of American public education and an important cornerstone of our liberal democracy.”
Jackson said while he understands concerns his bill infringes on local control, his bill “does not seek to strip away local decision-making authority but rather establishes a framework that encourages a more comprehensive approach.”
“Requiring a supermajority vote on the school board to ban books ensures that such decisions, which have significant implications for students, teachers, and the community, are not made lightly or by a slim majority,” Jackson said.