Vote to reject social science material draws comment from Governor

Valley News/Shane Gibson photo

TEMECULA (CNS) – Teachers in the Temecula Valley Unified School
District are expected to rally today after the school board voted to reject
textbooks and curriculum for an elementary school level social science program.

Comments recently made by Temecula Valley Unified School Board
president Joseph Komrosky about Harvey Milk and the decision to reject the
social science curriculum has drawn the attention of Gov. Gavin Newsom.

Teachers plan to rally in support of the proposed social studies
program at the duck pond at the corner of Rancho California and Ynez roads at 4
p.m. Tuesday.

During its meeting on May 16, the school board voted to reject a
proposed curriculum and textbooks for its kindergarten through fifth grade
social sciences program that the board said contained “morally objectionable
material.” Board members Jennifer Wiersma and Danny Gonzalez joined Komrosky
in voting to reject the materials.

During the comment portion of the meeting, Gonzalez responded to a
question by calling Milk, the first openly gay man elected to public office in
California, as a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, a “known
pedophile” and Komrosky asked, “Why even mention a pedophile?”

Wiersma added, “We can do better.”

The vote put the district in legal jeopardy and perhaps without enough
textbooks for the K-5 social science classes for the upcoming school year.

It also prompted Newsom to tweet on June 3, “An offensive statement
from an ignorant person. This isn’t Texas or Florida. In the Golden State, our
kids have the freedom to learn. Congrats Mr. Komrosky you have our attention.
Stay tuned.”

None of the textbooks being considered for the social science program
referenced Milk, and teachers in the higher elementary grades would have the
option of sourcing supplemental material on Milk.

The tweet from Newsom follows a letter authored by State Attorney
General Rob Bonta and State Superintendent Tony Thurmond addressed to county
school superintendents, district school superintendents and charter school
administrators in California cautioning against book bans and outlined
educational civil rights and legal mandates.

“In the first half of this school year alone, 1,477 books were banned
nationally, with teachers and librarians threatened with prison time for
shelving the wrong book,” according to the letter. “As state leaders elected
to represent the values of all Californians, we offer our response in one
shared voice: Access to books — including books that reflect the diverse
experiences and perspectives of Californians, and especially, those that may
challenge us to grapple with uncomfortable truths * is a profound freedom we
all must protect and cultivate.”

Despite the letter, the Temecula Valley Unified School District voted
to reject the textbooks recommended for the social science classes.

The rejection also came despite 47 of the district’s educators
recommending the textbooks and asking for input from 1,300 parents of students
who were part of the pilot program.

There was little parent feedback and little criticism of the new
curriculum, according to a district report.
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