I don’t know how well aware Texas parents and guardians are of the pervasive attempts to try to ban books from their children’s schools, but I would love to see widespread civics lessons so that kids can see the role that their family members’ voting (or lack thereof) has played.
And I think the perfect lesson might just be on the horizon.
The short version of what’s going on is that, because of a recently passed Texas law as well as the eagerness of some school districts to surrender to small numbers of angry people who don’t like how librarians do their jobs, it is getting ridiculously difficult to get newly published books onto library shelves in a timely fashion.
That sounds bad enough in abstract, but what’s going to happen when Dav Pilkey’s twelfth book in his phenomenally popular Dog Man graphic novel series is published next March?
“Hey, kids! The good news is, there’s a new Dog Man out today! [Students’ wild cheering eventually dies down.] The bad news is, we won’t be able to have it in the library until sometime next school year. [Stunned silence — at best — ensues.]”
That’s going to stink. If you aren’t convinced, just ask an elementary school librarian to explain it to you.
But at least this crummy and entirely unnecessary situation can be used to teach students about the importance of participating in our political system and how that system personally affects them.
You see, every school’s attendance zone is in the district of at least one state representative and one state senator. How did those House members and Senate members vote on House Bill 900/the READER Act/the Texas book ban? (This isn’t just a rhetorical question — those links will tell you.)
In other words, did the legislators who represent those students’ families vote to make it harder to get Dog Man #12: The Scarlet Shedder onto library shelves the day/week/month it’s published, or did they vote to leave things working the way they had been when Dog Man #11: Twenty Thousand Fleas Under the Sea was published?
OK, so what was each legislator’s margin of victory in the 2022 election? How many additional votes in one direction or the other would have changed the outcome of the election — and thus, perhaps, the vote on behalf of constituents (including those students) on whether to pass HB 900/the READER Act/the Texas book ban?
How many registered voters in those legislators’ districts (or, even better, within the precincts of the school’s attendance zone) did not vote at all?
How many people in those legislative districts or school districts were eligible to vote but were not registered?
How did the voting decisions made by each student’s parent(s) or guardian(s) — including decisions not to vote or not to register — indirectly affect the ability to get the new Dog Man onto library shelves as soon as kids would like?
Looking ahead, who are the candidates in the 2024 elections for legislative districts that include that school’s community?
Where do those candidates stand on HB 900/the READER Act/the Texas book ban?
What would those students want their parent(s) or guardian(s) to know about the importance of being registered for and casting a ballot in that November 2024 election? (Hint: It might involve Dog Man #13.)
And, by the way, when’s the next school board election?