Opinion: Censorship in schools doesn’t protect students from harmful ideologies, it pushes them.

Opinion: Censorship in schools doesn’t protect students from harmful ideologies, it pushes them.

Over 170 books were banned from reaching bookshelves in public schools across Florida as of 2023 as Gov. Ron DeSantis has launched an ongoing Republican-led crusade against “indoctrination” in public schools through library books. The enactment of the Stop W.O.K.E Act and the infamous “Don’t Say Gay” bill soon followed suit. The crusade has also banned teachers from discussing past events regarding racial issues that might “make students feel distressed or guilty.” However, this is not the first time this has happened.


 “Indoctrination” has been a rallying cry in conservative inner circles since school busing was an issue. Critical race theory, a concept developed and mostly applied to law schools, is a view of history showing the effects of racism and slavery in the modern African American community. Systemic racism has been an issue haunting America since the country’s founding, and it takes the most basic knowledge of our history to understand this. In fact, the DeSantis administration has made an effort to ban AP African American studies, alongside books that hint at racial injustice, including the biographies of athletes such as Hank Aaron or Roberto Clemente, who both lived in a time of great discrimination against African Americans.


Yet what Florida is doing isn’t solely relevant there, it impacts other states as well. Florida stands out for its extreme cases, but the push against critical race theory and “indoctrination” in public education is a Texas issue as well. In 2021, Gov. Greg Abbot signed a less drastic yet still controlling anti-critical race theory law that targeted subjects relating to race relations and the civil rights movement. 


The Stop W.O.K.E Act, in particular, bans discussions that cause “feelings of distress or guilt in students on account of their race.” Unfortunately for them, history doesn’t care about feelings. Under the guise of protecting white students from “feelings of distress or guilt,” state governments are running a campaign that white washes the dark past that haunts America, which includes slavery, the Jim Crow laws and the perpetual fight against systemic racism.  Republican leaders like former President Donald Trump advocate for a “patriotic education” that heavily implies the current way of teaching history is unfairly biased against the U.S. (any world history course will show you that’s a lie). 


As more laws that support a rose-tinted view of history get passed, it’ll only blind current and future Americans’ understanding of past world events. The resulting lack of self-awareness in how this country handles racial issues, and even foreign policy, only feeds into the stereotype that Americans are ignorant. In addition, it weakens critical thinking skills, another thing Texan politicians tried to eliminate, making the population easier to control.


Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Schools that are forced by the state to distort history, so as to not offend certain students, will face dire consequences. But the people signing the laws aren’t stupid – they know very well what they’re doing and what their end goal is.