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“A Slippery Slope to Mass Censorship”: Kern locals express support and concerns about new book policy

The Kern County Superintendent of Schools meeting has grabbed attention with their recent book policy
Posted at 11:30 AM, Feb 15, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-15 14:30:17-05
  • Video shows KCSOS' February meeting, where many locals expressed concern about implementing a new book policy.
  • The meeting had its Policy First Read for supplemental and special materials, or what some locals call a "book ban."


What some consider protection, others consider censorship.

A dozen people stepped up to the podium to share their support and concerns at the Board of Education meeting, after last meeting where Area 7 Trustee Lori Cisneros requested a policy be adopted to review books in KCSOS classrooms.

One of the hot topics had to do with supplementary instructional materials, what many of the locals consider the “book ban.”

It was a passionate topic for students, teachers, and even a local pastor.

“You worry that these topics are too graphic and too mature for us. However, we will eventually, unfortunately, be forced to find out about that,” said one student.”

One teacher said, “I will fight to my last breath to defend my students and their ability to access this literature that will bring them peace, and solace, and to make them feel welcome and accepted and valued.”

Another teacher said the policy is “a slippery slope to mass censorship.”

“This dangerous philosophy must indoctrinate, and in the standard classroom will be transformed into a petri dish for social, emotional, and parental reengineering. How about we get back to the basics and fundamentals of education, which will invite students to thrive,” said a pastor.

But this policy brings in many questions– both from the crowd, and even within the board itself.

“What is decent? What is indecency? What is age appropriate,” asked the pastor.

One person on the board said, “We need some more information on this highlighted piece…”

The board said this policy is not exactly what the crowd is calling it.

Superintendent John G. Mendiburu said, “By this policy that’s in front of you, based on the board’s direction last month, was to bring a first read policy on supplemental and special materials. It is not a book-banning policy”

Additionally, the County Board of Education only has jurisdiction over the county’s court and community schools. With that, KCSOS says that any policy adopted would only affect those programs– not any of the county’s 46 individual school districts.

But rather, KCSOS says it’s requesting an official draft of supplemental instructional materials policy, which they say has long been in practice for KCSOS classes.

This was the first reading of the policy, with the board asking for more information before the next discussion.

The next meeting is set to take place on March 12th at 6:30 pm at the Kern County Superintendent of Schools Office.

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