Education Secretary Miguel Cardona reiterated the Biden administration’s opposition to book bans in a guest op-ed for the Tampa Bay Times amid the controversy on the topic spurred by restrictions enacted under Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R).
In his opinion piece, titled “As US education secretary, I want us to enrich public schools, not ban books and topics,” Cardona indirectly goes after DeSantis in an outlet from his home state over the removal of certain books from classrooms and school libraries.
“Ironically, some of the very politicians who claim to promote freedom are banning books and censoring what students can learn,” Cardona said.
“As U.S. secretary of education, as well as a father and lifelong educator, here’s what I know to be true: Parents don’t want politicians dictating what their children can learn, think and believe. That’s not how public education is supposed to work in a free country,” he added.
Florida has become the center of book ban controversies over reports of schools and teachers taking books off the shelves until they can get them approved by the state in order to avoid repercussions.
DeSantis held a press conference on the subject at the beginning of the month, standing near a sign reading “Exposing the Book Ban Hoax” while discussing one story of a teacher getting fired after taking a video of empty bookshelves and putting it on social media.
“You’ve had other things where they’ve tried to say you’re not allowed to teach certain things, basic things that we require. Some of those folks have been put on discipline and will likely lose their job,” DeSantis said. “So, a lot of that, what’s been going on is an attempt to create a political movement narrative, and it’s a false political narrative.”
States including Texas and Tennessee have also seen recent negative headlines over school book bans.
“Over the last year, 4 million students have had their reading censored through book bans — with the majority of book bans censoring stories of people of color or LGBTQ Americans. Just imagine being a parent whose kid has never read a single book in school about a family who looks like theirs,” Cardona said, bemoaning “that some politicians want to limit our children’s freedom to read.”
This is the second time this month that Cardona has released an op-ed going after Republicans for their policies, with the previous one in Newsweek hitting the GOP on parental rights in education.
In both, he has sought to argue that the Biden administration has worked to bring people together on education while Republicans are driving them apart.
“They want to ban kids from learning the truth when it doesn’t align with their political agenda. But it’s vital for all of us to understand our full history — the triumphs and the tragedies — so we can build a stronger, shared American future,” Cardona said.