Center for American Progress

RELEASE: Book Banning and Curriculum Restrictions Driven by Political Polarization Are Widely Unpopular

RELEASE: Book Banning and Curriculum Restrictions Driven by Political Polarization Are Widely Unpopular

Washington, D.C. — Politically motivated calls for book banning and curriculum restrictions have surged across the country, forcing public school teachers to teach an incomplete picture of American history and civics. At least 17 states have taken steps to restrict how teachers can discuss American history and current events, including pulling books off library shelves in an effort to suppress “divisive concepts”—a term nearly always used to refer to issues about race and identity. A new report by Center for American Progress outlines the dangers of the anti-public-education movement, its infringement of students’ rights, and the diminishment of thoughtful discussions in the classroom.

Some core findings from the report include:  

  • More than 1,500 book bans have occurred in at least 86 school districts in 26 states since 2019. 
  • 41 percent of books banned prominently feature characters who are people of color.
  • 93 percent of Democrats and 71 percent of Republicans believe it is appropriate for schools to include discussions of slavery and racism in teaching about U.S. history. 
  • 69 percent of parents support educators teaching about the ongoing effects of slavery and racism in the United States. 

“Schools should be allowed to teach a full and honest account of our shared history. The politicization of the K-12 public school system is on the rise, as more states and school districts attack public school classrooms by banning books and restricting curricula—all part of an extremist agendas to defund and privatize public education,” said Akilah Alleyne, director for K-12 Education Policy and author of the report. “The future of civic engagement in America’s democracy and next generation workforce is at stake; our children’s rights to a quality education on the United States’ history and civics need protecting against these anti-public education, un-American measures.” 

Read the report: Book Banning, Curriculum Restrictions, and the Politicization of U.S. Schools by Akilah Alleyne 

For more information or to speak with an expert, please contact Sarah Nadeau at snadeau@americanprogress.org