A school board president breaks his gavel while trying to keep order, police officers escort parents out of public meetings and librarians called “pedophile groomers” for stocking certain books.
Those were just a few of the scenarios Hannah Dellinger and Alejandro Serrano encountered while reporting on book bans in Texas schools for the Houston Chronicle. Through a combination of data and shoe-leather reporting, they discovered that the push to ban certain books was the result of partisan politics, rather than a “parental rights” movement, changing what was the accepted narrative.
Dellinger and Serrano’s investigation involved sending public records requests to nearly 600 school districts that teach more than 90% of Texas’ more than 5 million students. They found there were at least 2,080 book reviews of more than 880 unique titles since the 2018-19 school year. Their reporting resulted in more than 25 stories and an interactive database.
Both reporters chat with Public Editor Kavitha Cardoza about how school board meetings are no longer “boring,” how they kept track of thousands of documents and what their one, and only, disagreement was about.