Chartrand says he's not in favor of banning books
Gary Chartrand, chairman of the Florida Board of Education, suggested Tuesday at the state's education summit that Florida develop a task force to screen reading lists for subjects that upset people. He specifically cited socialism and homosexuality.
"Math is math...reading lists get people fired up," he said. "If there is a way to screen the reading list, develop a task force or something."
Chartrand's comments came during a subgroup meeting at the summit in which participants were talking about how to convince the public that the Common Core State Standards are good for Florida. Members of his group suggested changing the name - they ultimately dismissed the idea, though another group thought it had merit - and said that strong leadership was needed from the top down to spread the message about Common Core.
Chartrand said Wednesday that some people misread his comments to mean that he wanted to ban books and that he objects to homosexuality. He said that his point was that critics of the Common Core could use reading lists to generate negative publicity.
"There are some people, particularly on the far right, that you know are looking at all the reading lists and if they find someting like homosexuality and socialism they're going to speak out loudly," he said. "I'm not a proponent of going through reading lists and taking anything out."
He said the Chartrand Foundation in Jacksonville is the largest contributor to JASMYN, a non-profit organization in Jacksonville that provides support for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender youth.
"To suggest that I'm going to ban that information is not correct," he said.
Chartrand said his comments about developing a task force came from Massachusetts. That state created its own state-centric reading content to go with the new Common Core standards. He thought that could be replicated in Florida.
"What we should be doing is making sure that the curriculum for Florida is Florida's," he said.
His original statement about screening reading lists "was made in the context of why are some people against Common Core," he said.
His group ultimately submitted a suggestion to the larger summit that said, "Proactively look for ways to provide curriculum and instructional materials (eg reading lists) that align with Florida's values and culture while allowing local control."