I’m supposed to be working, so I’ll keep this short, but I had to share.

Yesterday (8/09/22), teachers across the state received an email like this one:

The TN General Assembly has passed Public Chapter 744 titled the “Age-Appropriate Materials Act of 2022.”  This Act requires each public school to maintain, and post on the school’s website, a list of the materials in the school’s library collection as well classroom libraries.
The purpose of the Act is to provide parents and school employees the opportunity to object to material contained in the school’s library collections as well as classroom libraries that they feel is not age appropriate and for local boards of education to establish a process to review such complaints. The goal is to allow employees, parents, and the school board to “ensure that the materials are appropriate for the age and maturity levels of the students who may access the materials, and that the materials are suitable for, and consistent with, the educational mission of the school.”
According to this law each classroom teacher needs to create a list of books they have in their classroom libraries that students can access prior to allowing students access to those books.
[district redacted] is aware that this will take time for teachers to complete should they wish to have open libraries in their classroom.  Additionally, [district] is expecting more guidance on this in the weeks and months ahead.  State law requires the Textbook and Instructional Materials Quality Commission to issue guidance by 12/1/2022. However, we are bound by the current state law now even though there is not additional guidance yet.
Please note, there is NO district requirement that teachers create and publish a list. However, they will not be able to utilize their classroom libraries for student access until a list is posted online.
Should a teacher want to begin creating a list, the list will need to contain both the full title of the book followed by the author’s name (last, first).  For example:   Charlotte’s Web – White, E.B.

If tldr, teachers have to post a list of their personal classroom libraries to allow parents to object to age-appropriateness of books on a cover-by-cover basis.  Districts are required to develop a system to review these complaints.  There is no additional staffing, time, or funding for this directive.

Here is what a former colleague and current favorite person of mine had to say about it.  She is a teacher of deaf and hearing impaired children, and has a Masters degree in Deaf Education.  That is her library pictured above.

Please see my pictures I have attached.
First you will see my, quite modest for an Elementary school, classroom library. Next you will see my diplomas I walk by daily. Why is this important? I have dedicated my life to ensuring that what is arguably the most language deprived subgroup of children have access to language, text, and relatable books. The state of Tennessee has recently passed a law that every book must be inventoried and posted for review/ “feedback” I believe. Aside from the sheer amount of work this adds to every teacher’s plate, we are legally bound to not allow the children to use any of these books until that has been completed. They are sitting and useless. Put away. My children are deprived of yet another experience. In the eyes of the state of Tennessee I am trusted to be a DCS reporter, identify and stop bullying, harassment, home problems. I am trusted to be on a medical response team to help with broken bones, CPR, and AED needs. I am trusted to save my children by protecting them with my own body if need be from an intruder. I am trusted to, at times, be the only person in that child’s life that knows their language. I am trusted to be a safe space. But, in the eyes of the state of TN I am not trusted to pick a book to read to a child. The one thing on that list I actually went to school for. Let that sink in.

We would appreciate it if you would let Governor “teachers are dumb” Lee know what you think.

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This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.


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