State Watch

Newsom says ‘education is under assault’ over banning books, suppressing speech

Associated Press/Rich Pedroncelli
California Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks at the California Association of Realtors Legislative Day in Sacramento on April 27, 2022.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) said on Wednesday that “education is under assault,” criticizing the banning of books across the country, efforts to suppress speech and “the othering of our students, teachers, parents.”

“I do believe education is under assault in ways that I’ve never experienced in my lifetime. I really believe that. I thought it was bad back in the day when folks were debating the merits or demerits around vouchers,” Newsom said while giving remarks at the National Forum on Education Policy after receiving the Frank Newman Award for State Innovation from the Education Commission of the States.

“You know, back in the good old days, in the ’90s, the black and white movie days, and people have different opinions about something called ‘charter schools,’” he mused. “But what’s happening now? Banning books, suppressing speech, the othering of our students, teachers, parents? It’s alarming.”

He slammed Florida, for example, after its Department of Education in April rejected dozens of math books, citing alleged references to or the inclusion of critical race theory (CRT) and social emotional learning (SEL) in them.

CRT, which is generally taught in institutions of higher education, is a decades-old theory that asserts that racism is woven into U.S. laws, institutions and history. 

SEL programming aims to help students manage their emotions, develop and manage health identities and relationships and make responsible decisions, among other goals.

Newsom also slammed Texas for cutting hundreds of millions of dollars in mental health funding after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) earlier this year redirected more than $200 million from the state’s Health and Human Services Commission, which oversees Texas’s mental health services, toward his border security initiative.

“But what about the whole person? What about the wellness of our kids? Everybody’s talking a good game now about mental health,” Newsom said. 

“There’s one large state, Texas, where they cut mental health funding by $211 million. You know why I’m up here? Because we just expanded mental health by $4.7 billion in our public education system in the state of California.”

Newsom has been considered a possible 2024 Democratic presidential contender, though the California governor said in an interview last year that a presidential bid has “literally 100 percent never been on my radar.”

Tags book banning California Florida Gavin Newsom Gavin Newsom National Forum on Education Policy Texas
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