The concerted effort to address book controversies in Mat-Su school libraries took a leap forward on Aug. 2 with the school board approving members to serve on a citizens’ library advisory committee. The board also voted to enact a new library policy emphasizing that libraries are primarily “academic” centers, not places to push ill-defined “ethics and values,” promote so-called equity and inclusion or disseminate sexual books without parental consent.

Approval of the citizens’ library committee members came after the school board voted to reduce the number of school district employee members from six to four. This was to ensure that the 11-member library committee is primarily constituted by citizens, not district teachers and librarians, many of whom opposed establishing the committee in the first place.

“Having an almost equal number of school district employees kind of – I’m concerned about – defeating the purpose of a citizen advisory committee,” School Board Member Jacob Butcher said prior to reducing the district’s representatives. “I would feel more comfortable having more citizens – having it a more citizen heavy committee.”

Butcher’s proposal was unanimously approved.

The primary task of the library committee is to examine controversial library books and recommend the removal of those that are deemed sexually explicit and in possible violation of state law. Nearly 60 books are slated for review. Thes include titles containing detailed descriptions of masturbation, anal and oral sex, sex toys, pole dancing, sex parties, dominatrix, foul language, descriptions of graphic and violent rape, gay teen sex and gender-confused characters.

The new library policy was also approved, along a 6-1 vote. Member Ted Swanson was the lone dissenting voice. He has been critical of efforts to reform the libraries, siding with those upset teachers and librarians who’ve complained that the reforms are unnecessary and akin to censorship.

During the meeting, it was noted that enrollment in Mat-Su schools is about 2,000 students ahead of what was projected by this point in the summer. With roughly 12,000 now enrolled, 16% are signed up for correspondence/homeschooling rather than traditional brick-and-mortar schools.

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Citizen led committee set to restore accountability in Mat-Su school libraries

Joel Davidson
Joel is Editor-in-Chief of the Alaska Watchman. Joel is an award winning journalist and has been reporting for over 24 years, He is a proud father of 8 children, and lives in Palmer, Alaska.