According to Simba Information, top educational textbook publishers around the country were stunned when the state of Florida rejected a full 41% of math textbooks adopted by Florida’s schools as not meeting the state’s newly revised standards and requirements.
As these books were already selected through the standard textbook adoption process, rejected publishers were taken by surprise and other educational publishers are uncertain as to the status of their own textbooks.
The American Library Association has reported that attempts to ban books are surging to their highest levels in 20 years, and PEN America, a nonprofit literary association, stated on its website that over 150 “gag” bills have been introduced in state legislatures since January 2021.
“This current state of uncertainty for educational publishers leaves this sector in a very vulnerable position,” explained Robert Berkman, Managing Editor of Simba Information’s newsletter Education Market Advisor, which recently published an article titled “School Book Bans: What You Need to Know.”
Berkman recommends a series of steps that can help publishers better prepare for potential challenges related to censorship, particularly for content related to critical race theory, LGBTQ issues, and other areas targeted by conservative and parental choice movements.
Creating a scenario planning task force composed of key persons drawn from the major representative segments of the company: editorial, marketing, sales, school relations, public relations, and other key stakeholders.Re-examining and committing to the organization’s ethics, and mission.
Task force discussions should be driven primarily by the founding principles of the organization.Inventorying texts that could be challenged by certain states and understanding how the legal notion of local community standards could be relevant and play out when one’s books are examined.Knowing options for objecting and appealing any books initially adopted but then rejected by states and school boards.
“As this is a political year and a hot button issue, this topic is not going to go away anytime soon” Berkman added. “Educational publishers need to get ahead of the curve, and not just be passive recipients or victims of what can be a non-transparent and even arbitrary rejection process by state and regional school officials.”