Rhode Island Gov. McKee Calling on Textbook Companies to Resist Censorship

Nine other Democratic governors have expressed concerns over censorship of material in school textbooks in a letter sent to several ed publishers.

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Rhode Island Gov. Dan McKee joined nine other Democratic state and territorial governors Friday in signing a letter to nine school textbook publishers calling on them to resist censorship, especially when it comes to U.S. history.

The effort was led by New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, who is head of the Democratic Governors Association.

“We are deeply troubled by the news of some textbook publishers yielding to the unreasonable demands of certain government representatives calling for the censorship of school educational materials, specifically textbooks,” the letter begins.

“We write to you out of concern that those who are charged with supporting the education of this country’s students, such as yourselves, may be tempted to water down critical information to appeal to the lowest common denominator. We urge any company who has not yet given in to this pressure to hold the line for our democracy.”

McKee’s office did not respond to requests for comment.

The move came a little less than a month after Florida authorities worked with textbook companies to “correct” 66 social studies textbooks previously declared to contain “inaccurate material, errors and other information that was not aligned with Florida Law,” according to a statement from the Florida Department of Education.

The scrubbing came after only 19 of 101 submitted textbooks were approved by the state education department for use in Florida schools. The objections from the department included:

  • One textbook encouraged critical discussions at home around athletes “taking a knee” during performances of the National Anthem.
  • The removal of a passage from a middle school textbook calling regarding the murder of Geroge Floyd and Black Lives Matter protests, calling it an “unsolicited topic.”
  • Removal of the word “socialism” from a section on economics where the system was described as a way to keep things “nice and even.”

Other governors who signed the letter included: Maura Healey, of Massachusetts; John Carney, of Delaware; J.B. Pritzker, of Illinois; Wes Moore, of Maryland; Michelle Lujan Grisham, of New Mexico; Jay Inslee, of Washington; Albert Bryan, of the U.S. Virgin Islands; and Kathy Hochul, of New York.

The letter was sent to the Association of American Publishers, which represents the leading book, journal, and education publishers in the United States and the following publishers:

Cengage Learning, Goodheart-Wilcox, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, McGraw Hill Education, Routledge Taylor and Francis Group, Savvas Learning Co., Scholastic, and Teachers Curriculum Institute did not respond to requests for comment.

Pearson declined to comment.

Rhode Island Current is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Rhode Island Current maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Janine L. Weisman for questions: info@rhodeislandcurrent.com. Follow Rhode Island Current on Facebook and Twitter.

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