Why Is Texas Eliminating School Libraries?
September 7, 2023
Back-to-school season is upon us and here at the ACLU we’ve been following the nationwide campaign to censor education, be that the censorship of important historical and social context in curriculums, or the recent rise in book bans. All of these efforts threaten students’ right to learn. As we chart this issue, our eyes are on Texas. The state is banning more books than any other, eliminating libraries, and through these decisions, targeting low-income students of color.
This year, some students in the Houston Independent School District — the largest district in Texas — may be heading to schools with no libraries or librarians. In August, the state announced plans to convert libraries into disciplinary centers, eliminating librarian positions at 28 elementary and middle schools. Another 57 schools are being assessed for the same outcome, with the goal of addressing low academic performance in certain schools. This alarming change comes as part of a sweeping reform program led by the HISD’s new superintendent Mike Miles, and a new state-imposed school board, both of which replaced the district’s former elected school board and superintendent in the spring.
We’re joined by Becky Calzada and Deborah Hall, two Texas librarians who are advocating for students and the future of their profession. Then, we hear from ACLU of Texas attorney Chloe Kempf, to help explain how the rise in education censorship infringes on students’ civil rights.