Orange Unified’s New Superintendent Suspends Access to Digital Books

In one of his first acts as interim superintendent of Orange Unified schools, Edward Velasquez has announced the temporary suspension of Sora, a digital library app that makes books freely available to students. The controversial decision was based on parent complaints about inappropriate reading material.

“Virtual libraries are a critical resource for students to utilize, but they must have the proper safeguards in place to allow parents to choose what they feel is appropriate for their child and ensure students are protected from content that is not age-appropriate,” Velasquez said in an email to parents on Sunday.

“Moving forward, a committee will be formed to review app content before apps are approved for installation on student devices.”

The move elicited criticism from free speech advocates as well as Greg Goodlander, President of the Orange Unified Education Association. He said the suspension was rushed without teacher input and would eliminate an important resource for disadvantaged students.

The material flagged by parents ranged significantly in terms of severity. One parent complained about a book in which a male polar bear wishes to marry a male seal. Another parent, however, claimed their second-grader had accessed a book that described a sexual assault and contained the words f*ck and sh*t.

Literary censorship is on the rise across U.S. schools, bolstered by a conservative backlash against “woke” academics. In Flordia, for instance, the Washington Post reports that school teachers are covering classroom books with paper or removing them entirely to avoid felony charges under a new book censorship law. 

Read more about the suspension of Sora and the reactions at Voice of OC.  



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