Texas lawmaker files bill to require ratings on school books: 'This isn't setting (books) on fire'

Chaz Miller Image
Tuesday, December 6, 2022
Texas lawmaker files bill to require ratings on school books
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Starting in 2024, books told to your school district might look a little different.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- A bill has been filed for the upcoming Texas legislative session that would require publishers to assign ratings to books they sell to state school districts and open-enrollment charter schools.

The bill was filed by Rep. Tom Oliverson, who serves northwest Harris County, and he said the idea came to him while behind the wheel.

SEE ALSO: New study on book bans finds Texas leads the nation in restricting materials in schools

"I was driving in my car one day, and it occurred to me that we've had a system in place for TV content for 30 years," the Republican lawmaker said. "The idea was to take the TV-rating system we have for the purpose of rating books."

Oliverson said there are books finding their way into school libraries that parents might find inappropriate, and this would be an easy way for them to identify what's safe or unsafe for kids to read.

The ratings would range from BK-G, which is considered safe for all audiences, to BK-MA, which is only suitable for students 17 and older.

SEE ALSO: Experts say Texas' excessive ban on books is 'harmful to students'

If the bill is passed, it would go into effect in 2023, and ratings would start showing up on the cover of books beginning in the 2024 school year.

The Texas Education Agency would be responsible for reviewing the ratings established by publishers. Those who don't comply with calls to change a rating would be unable to sell books to schools.

PEN America, which is a national nonprofit that works toward promoting free expression in literature, said this move is "a dangerous escalation in the movement to censor public education."

SEE ALSO: Katy ISD parents want book audit of district's libraries after claiming they found 'porn'

Oliverson disagrees with that assessment.

"I think that's kind of absurd," he said. "This is not piling books in the corner and setting them on fire."

SEE MORE:

Cy-Fair ISD parents will have more input on books students can access in 2022-23

Texas Education Agency's new school library standards push for more scrutiny and parental input

Humble ISD parents form group to remove 'dirty books' from school libraries

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