The Tennessee textbook commission expressed its need for additional staff and an attorney, following the passing of a new library materials law requiring schools to catalog and publicize their lists of library and classroom materials.
Director of Schools for Bradley County and Textbook and Instructional Materials Quality Commission Chair Linda Cash spoke to the legislative subcommittee that the law has added a lot of work “to people who already have a full load.”
Cash suggested that an independent attorney may be needed to answer any legal questions that the commission has as they sort through this process.
“The way that we’re designed currently, it’s hard to get an opinion,” Cash told lawmakers.
The commission is responsible for issuing statewide guidance regarding the library materials law by December 1 to ensure that all school materials are appropriate for their students.
This year, the Tennessee General Assembly passed the library materials law, which requires public schools to review their library materials to ensure that all library contents are age-appropriate and publish the full list online for parents to see. This law allows for all parents to have the option to see what their children are reading in school and gives the parents the opportunity to provide input into their education.
The Age-Appropriate Material Acts gives parents the ability to voice their concerns about any books that they believe are not appropriate for their child. Parents are able to appeal to the school board to remove a potentially objectionable book from the school library.
According to the Tennessee Department of Education, “The State Textbook and Instructional Materials Quality Commission is composed of 10 members whose responsibility is to recommend an official list of textbooks and instructional materials for approval from the State Board of Education.”
The commission is required to be made up of two school directors, a principal, a teacher from grades K-3, a teacher from grades 4-8, a teacher from grades 9-12, and a member who is not employed in the school system. There are also nine members of the commission who are appointed from each grand division of the state by the Speaker of the Senate, the Speaker of the House, and the governor.
The commission was encouraged by the subcommittee to pursue funding for additional staff and an attorney to provide support throughout this process.
Watch the meeting:
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