N.J. Dems Say Textbook Publishers Should Ignore GOP Censorship Demands, Avoid 'Lowering Educational Standards'

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Classroom without children at school's out. The desks are in rows and you can read the names of the children on the front of the desks drawn in multicolour. Photo was taken in elementary school in Quebec Canada.
Classroom without children at school's out. The desks are in rows and you can read the names of the children on the front of the desks drawn in multicolour. Photo was taken in elementary school in Quebec Canada.

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A group of New Jersey Democrats are concerned that restrictive education laws in other states might spill over into Garden State curriculum.

In a letter addressed to CEOs of major textbook publishers on Friday, seven U.S. officials representing New Jersey claim that conservative-leaning states have launched a "bigoted censorship campaign" on education in order to "frighten parents, stoke racial grievance, and bully textbook publishers into submission."

While outside states have no authority over New Jersey schools, the letter argues that if publishers "bend to their censorship demands," it will impact everyone.

"Given the leverage large states like Florida have over the content of school textbooks used throughout the United States, we are deeply concerned that any changes made to appease their demands will affect the quality of public education in New Jersey and other states," reads the letter, helmed by Rep. Tom Malinowski and Sen. Cory Booker.

The lawmakers include an example of the Florida Department of Education banning a math textbook for "briefly highlighting the biographies of two prominent African American mathematicians," one of which was Dorothy Vaughan, who led a computing unit for NASA and is highlighted in the Oscar-nominated film Hidden Figures.

The state's reasoning, according to the letter, was that the book contained tenets of critical race theory.

"In the weeks and months to come, there will be significant commercial pressures put on you as leading publishers to produce textbooks that appeal to politicians in Florida and elsewhere," the letter warns. "We urge you to be transparent with the public about any changes you are asked to make in response to such demands."

It goes on to request that if any changes are made to the publishers' curriculum, states be given the option to purchase the original, uncensored versions of the textbooks.

"We are proud of having some of the highest rated public schools in the country in our state, and we will not stand for lowering our educational standards and learning opportunities for our students based on the divisive politics of censorship from politicians in Florida, Texas or anywhere else," it continues.

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"We strongly agree that educational content should be appropriate to the ages of children to which it is taught," the lawmakers say, adding that recognizing dark facets of history and acknowledging the ways in which people are different is not "woke indoctrination," but an "important truth."

In addition to Malinowski and Booker, U.S. representatives Robert Menendez, Bill Pascrell Jr., Donald Payne Jr., Albio Sires, and Bonnie Watson Coleman signed the letter.