New Bill Limits Learning for Students 

New Bill Limits Learning for Students 

Leo Thompson, Editor

This year we got a new governor, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, and with her administration came some big changes to  the schools of Arkansas. Early this year, she announced that the Arkansas legislature  would be passing a law that will drastically change the school system. The bill would ban all books from schools that are considered to be obscene or contain nudity.

 The big problem that many are having with the bill is that it does not specify what books are considered to be obscene.  This causes a big problem for teachers and librarians who could be met with a large fine and potentially jail time if they give students access to any book that is deemed obscene. Many teachers feel at risk of steep penalties for violating new rules that they have had little guidance on.

High School history teacher, Mrs. Katherine Wren, expressed her concern for the new bill, saying,  “I have closed my classroom library.  All my personal classroom library books are currently covered up and inaccessible to students. I have posted statements to all my students that library books must be turned in immediately.”

This new bill was passed by the Arkansas legislature at the same time as other bills focused on book banning have sprung up around the country.  Many educators are worried about the effects these new laws will have on students, as libraries and schools come under scrutiny for the media they offer the public.

Mrs. Wren explained how this bill could negatively impact students in her opinion, saying, “Ultimately this bill will lead to a decrease in student learning.  When teachers are afraid to allow access to books, students are the ones who lose out. There is also no provision to keep textbooks from being deemed “obscene”.  I struggle to think of how I might teach history if textbook based discussion of difficult topics is criminalized. “

This statement is one many people echo. Passing this law would make it very hard for teachers to do their jobs without worrying that they could find themselves in hot water for teaching books that have been part of the standard curriculum for decades, and it could make it almost impossible for students to read books at all if they live in areas that have been impacted by library closings. Some worry that  it would practically privatize libraries, making it where kids only read what one group wants to read. A public library should never be forced to be privatized despite the fact that some  people say that it is in the best interest for the kids. It almost always benefits the people who are privatizing the library, and limits ideas that students can engage with. I implore everyone to see who this actually benefits.