DeSantis Touts Education Legislation, Limits On Book Challenges

April 16, 2024

Gov. Ron DeSantis visited Escambia County Monday to announce his support for HB 1285, which he said will further cement Florida as the best state in the nation for education

Speaking at Warrington Preparatory Academy, the governor said the bill will simplify the process to convert failed “turnaround schools” to charter schools so no child is stuck in a poor-performing school, and incentivizing school districts to grow their roster of Purple Star Schools to support military families.

He said the bill will also streamline content objection process for parents and preventing activists from making bad-faith objections. Specifically, residents that are not the parent or guardian with a child in the local school district will be limited to one book challenge per month.

“The frivolous book challenges need to stop,” DeSantis said. “What’s gone on in the this county has not been something is nothing something that the law has tried to do….I know Escambia had a lot of books that should not have been under review that somehow were. You’ve got to use some common sense on this.”

In Escambia County, Northview High School teacher Vicki Baggett has challenged scores of books in Escambia County and has attended school board meetings in Santa Rosa and Okaloosa counties to challenge more. Under the new law, she will be limited to one new challenge per month because she does not have children in the school district.

DeSantis did not menton Baggett by name during Monday’s event.

“That’s performative, that’s political, you’re trying to be an activist when you should be trying to be an educator,” he said.

“If you don’t have kids in the school district, you still are a citizen. You still can be interested in education, but you’re going to be limited to what you can be objecting to. You can raise an objection, and these are limited to one a month because what we found is you have activists that are going in there and they’re objecting to everything under the sun, and it’s from all ends of the political spectrum,” the governor said.

Penguin Random House, the world’s largest trade book publisher, PEN America, a “free expression organization”, and several individuals have filed suit alleging Escambia County schools have violated the First Amendment by setting out to remove or restrict access to books discussing race, racism, and LGBTQ identities, against the recommendations of the district review committee charged with evaluating book challenges.

The Escambia County District filed a motion that was denied in Pensacola federal court to dismiss the lawsuit. The judge urged the parties to settle the case in mediation rather than moving forward in court.

Pictured. Florida Gov Ron DeSantis touts education bill at Warrington Preparatory Academy in Escambia County on Monday. Image for, click to enlarge.


17 Responses to “DeSantis Touts Education Legislation, Limits On Book Challenges”

  1. Dhg on April 18th, 2024 9:39 pm

    The notion the left is evil and has an agenda is idiotic, at best. This demonization of anything that doesn’t fit into some narrow minded primitive view of the world is wrong. Tge world isn’t flat, evolution is real, and humanity has diversity. And remember, a parent can review what their child checks out without removing books for those that want them. And it’s telling how certain alt-right authoritarian books never make the lists.

  2. BeSmart on April 17th, 2024 2:36 pm

    @Floridian: Please tell me that you are being facetious… You don’t want your children exposed to “critical thinking?” You can’t be this dense.

  3. Bob on April 17th, 2024 12:40 pm

    @Just Me

    Again, what is wrong with any of the books that I mentioned? What is inappropriate about them?

  4. Floridian on April 17th, 2024 11:51 am

    I do not want my children exposed to anything that might induce critical thinking, new perspectives, or anything that may cause the slightest introspection. Mr. DeSantis, please ensure that my children don’t question anything about the religious, conservative culture of the Florida Panhandle. Thank you.

  5. Bob on April 17th, 2024 10:31 am

    @Joey McCall

    Okay, what books did you see that have been banned under the Don’t Say Gay bill that WERE warranted?

  6. Just me on April 17th, 2024 9:04 am

    It’s a sad day when you have a Governor that is stooping down to a low level to be in good sight of the devil. There is no need of these books in schools. God doesn’t like his children to be expose to this fifth in books, internet and television but to put it in a school is deplorable.

  7. What about the First Amendment? on April 17th, 2024 4:26 am

    The part of HB 1285 limiting petitioners without children in public schools to challenge one book per month is probably unconstitutional because it is restricting free speech and the right to petition. Expect a court challenge.

    There is nothing in the Constitution that requires the government to address a petitioner’s assertion. Book reviews and timelines/deadlines for the government are being established by the Legislature and Governor, and thereby school boards, and are being essentially self imposed by lawmakers. If the deadlines to address the petitioners are too short or are not serving an overall betterment of public services, the government could simply ignore the petition. (Think about the women’s suffrage movement. It took 80 years for petitioning to be addressed.)

    But to attempt to simply shut down or limit petitioning is pushing awfully hard against the First Amendment.

    I do not agree with the petitioner’s aggressive pursuit of this issue (because there appears to be a goal of a broader than necessary effort of unreasonable censorship). However, the free speech and petitioning rights of all appear to be getting tightened by an overly aggressive Legislature and Governor.

  8. Joey McCall on April 17th, 2024 12:11 am

    @Bob and @Joni,

    I was not referring to an all inclusive list of books that have been challenged and banned. I do not know the reason for banning all the books the two of you referred to in your post. I was strictly referring to the books I have seen posted on social media by a few brave advocates working hard to save what little bit of innocence our elementary, middle school, and some high school children still have. Innocence that so many folks are so willing to sell to the devil! God help us!

  9. Joni on April 16th, 2024 6:12 pm

    @Joey so you haven’t heard of a book that was banned locally that shouldn’t have? What’s wrong with Meg Cabot’s The Princess Diaries series? Or Wuthering Heights? The Diary of Anne Frank? Webster’s dictionary? That’s just a few.

  10. Bob on April 16th, 2024 4:16 pm

    @Corrupt Government

    Again, what is wrong with Finding Alaska? or Dubliners? or Webster’s Dictionary and Thesaurus for Students? or David Copperfield? or The World Book Encyclopedia? or The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy?

    How are any of the books I’ve mentioned harmful to children or “indoctrinating” children?

  11. Corrupt Government will stop at nothing! on April 16th, 2024 3:09 pm

    @Bob, Joey McCall is right the left will not stop their evil agenda for anything. This might seem meaningless to u but infecting our kids is their goal. It starts with books in libraries in public schools and then indoctrination in college. After they come out of college u have a full fledge liberal that would rather believe in science than God. Wake up Bob!

  12. David on April 16th, 2024 2:18 pm

    re: @JoeyMcCall, I am in agreement with you as to the titles you mentioned. I didn’t realize that books such as these were banned. I am 80 years old and a 1961 graduate of Tate High, and I consumed many books such as you listed. Unfortunately, there is other media that is far more dangerous than the great books of old, which is both on the television and the Internet.

  13. Dhg on April 16th, 2024 2:03 pm

    DeSantas started this book banning mess and a pulling back is necessary but the shame still hangs around his neck. And it is telling what books get banned, and which do not. T
    He bigotry and racism behind most bans needs to be corralled. Nothing good has ever come from book bans, but a lot of wrongs have.

  14. Bob on April 16th, 2024 12:06 pm

    @Joey McCall

    What is wrong with Ulysses? or And Tango Makes Three? or Where the Crawdads Sing? or Slaughterhouse Five? or A Tale of Two Cities? or Les Miserables? or When Wilma Rudolph Played Basketball? or The Diary of Anne Frank? or Schindler’s List? or Catch-22? or Flowers for Algernon?

  15. Joey McCall on April 16th, 2024 10:48 am

    DeSantis is caving to the leftist pressure. Sorry, but I haven’t seen a book challenged by our local advocates that wasn’t legitimate. Put these books in the local book stores if you want to so that parents that want their kids exposed to this sick mess can take them their and purchase it. But keep that trash out of the public schools when my tax dollars are paying for it.

  16. Bob on April 16th, 2024 10:21 am

    I’m glad that DeSantis recognizes that his bill allowing the mass banning of books from schools was a mistake and is working on walking it back, but does that really need to be attached to legislation expanding charter schools?

    It seems like his policy is make a bad decision, then refuse to correct it until we agree to let him make another bad decision.

  17. Oversight on April 16th, 2024 10:14 am

    Limiting objections to inappropriate material to once a month for someone without children in the public school. This is a direct attack on an educator who is closest to the problem, like Vicki. Time to enlist parents with kids in the school. There, fixed it for the Legislature and the Gov.