The late salsa superstar Celia Cruz is slated to appear on the U.S. quarter. Selected for her vast achievements in the musical arts to be part of the American Women Quarters Program, Cruz is set to become the first Afro Latina on the coin.
But under policies pushed by book banner Ron DeSantis in the state legislature, schoolchildren in Florida may be forbidden from reading about any of her many merits that led to the honor.
Celia Cruz, Queen of Salsa is one of more than 1 million books in Duval County schools being reviewed under changes implemented by Republican lawmakers eager to aid in DeSantis’ political aspirations, NBC News reports. One book tells the life story of late Afro-Puerto Rican MLB legend and humanitarian Roberto Clemente, while another tells the life story of Sonia Sotomayor, the first Latina confirmed to the U.S. Supreme Court.
“The books are under review based on several laws that restrict classroom topics, including the Stop WOKE Act and the Parental Rights in Education law, which was called the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ law by LGBTQ activists,” ABC News said. More accurately, the laws restrict classroom topics to the book banner’s white, straight, Christian conservative mindset, as Daily Kos’ Laura Clawson aptly put it.
Under DeSantis and Republicans’ thumb, teachers could face thousands of dollars in fines, and even years of jail time, for violating law. Because it’s not enough to ask teachers to educate without proper resources. Because it’s not enough to not be able to guarantee them they won’t die in a hail of gunfire while going over a math lesson. Viral images in the past couple weeks have shown schools, including in Duval County, quite literally having to paper over bookshelves until the literature can be reviewed by inspectors.
That itself could be a lengthy process. “In January, 52 certified media specialists for Duval started reviewing about 1.5 million book titles, Sonya Duke-Bolden, a spokesperson with the public schools district told NBC News Friday,” the outlet reported earlier this month. Not quite 3,000 have been approved so far.
Judd Legum of Popular Information further reports that DeSantis’ book censoring debunks his and his administration’s lie that his Don’t Say Gay bill didn’t tell anyone to not say gay. Legum reports that one book removed from Lake County is the true story of a pair of male penguins at the Central Park Zoo who raised a hatchling provided by a zookeeper. And Tango Makes Three contains “no sexual content,” Legum notes. It’s about penguins. And their baby penguin!
Ron DeSantis and his administration are book banners, and they don’t take too well to that criticism when called out on it. Axios said that during a press conference this week, DeSantis called the review of Clemente’s book a “joke” and “outlandish.”
Oh please, Ron. You’re a very strange and off-putting dude, but not a completely stupid one (he’s a Yale graduate with a Harvard law degree). You know part of the GOP strategy here is to scare some into silence, while encouraging others to complain about anything that bothers their white sensibilities. He may not be explicitly saying this book or that book is banned, but the underlying message is still there: Be nervous. If in doubt, don’t touch it.
Manny Diaz Jr., DeSantis’ Commissioner of Education, further called the Clemente book development “fake news.” When coming from a Republican, that’s usually a sign it is true. “Florida does not ban books, and this particular book on baseball legend Roberto Clemente is currently on school bookshelves across the state,” Diaz Jr. continued. Oh, but Florida does remove books, gentlemen. Just ask Tango the penguin.
LatinoJustice PRLDEF president Lourdes Rosado urged Duval County to restore Clemente’s book “and others that shine a light on the experiences of exemplary people in our country who have contributed greatly to our society and culture," NBC News said. "Our children deserve to understand the full scope of our society’s flaws and strengths.” Policies like book banning and restricting learning may work to DeSantis’ political advantage in his state, but it may not be so nationally. Per Civiqs polling, 46% of independents, and 51% of respondents overall, oppose his recent attack on an Advanced Placement African American studies course.
How can you tell when a poll is actually high quality? Natalie Jackson, research director at PRRI, joins us on this week's episode of The Downballot to discuss that and more. Jackson tells us the indicators she looks for to determine whether a survey is worth taking seriously, what she thinks the future of polling aggregation ought to look like, and why white evangelical Christians are the real outliers when it comes to religious groups' views on abortion.
Co-hosts David Nir and David Beard also break down Democrats' big special election victories in Pennsylvania; new efforts by progressives to pick their preferred GOP opponents in two key Wisconsin races; the first true retirement from the House this cycle; and a proposal to increase the size of the House, which has been capped at 435 members for more than a century.