Newsom to Deliver Textbooks Rejected by Southern California School Board to Students

Newsom to Deliver Textbooks Rejected by Southern California School Board to Students

California Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks during the Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills, Calif., on May 2, 2023. (Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images)

Micaela Ricaforte

Micaela Ricaforte

7/14/2023

Updated: 12/30/2023

California will purchase and deliver copies of a social studies textbook to students in a local school district after district officials blocked the book because of “inappropriate” content, according to Gov. Gavin Newsom.
The Temecula Valley Unified School board in southern California first gained the governor’s attention in May when it rejected a social studies textbook containing references to LGBT activist and politician Harvey Milk—whom the board’s president Joseph Komrosky called a “pedophile” based on reports that Mr. Milk had a sexual relationship with a minor.
In a July 13 Twitter post, Mr. Newsom threatened to send the books to Temecula students and to enact legislation that would fine the district if the board doesn’t accept the textbook.
“We’re going to purchase the book for these students, the same one that hundreds of thousands of kids are already using. If these extremist school board members won’t do their job, we will, and fine them for their incompetence,” the governor said.
The debate centers around a book called “Social Studies Alive,” a textbook recently piloted in schools within the district and was brought before the board for official approval in May. While the textbook does not mention Mr. Milk in its main text, its optional supplemental material features him.
In a July 13 statement, Mr. Newsom also claimed Temecula’s students would begin the school year on Aug. 14 without enough social studies textbooks for every student “because of the school board’s decision to reject a widely used social studies curriculum.”
The governor said he would partner with lawmakers to pass Assembly Bill 1078 to prohibit local school boards from excluding books that contain “diverse perspectives.”
State Superintendent Tony Thurmond said he supported Mr. Newsom’s actions and likened the Temecula board’s decision to “book banning.”
“School districts should not ban books in California, especially as it harms students of color and LGBTQ+ youth,” Mr. Thurmond said in a July 13 statement. “[Assembly Bill] 1078 lays out the structure for today’s action and I am proud to have sponsored this bill to protect our students from the harmful effects of book banning, exclusion of inclusive textbooks and discrimination.”
California State Superintendent of Schools Tony Thurmond speaks during a news conference at Nystrom Elementary School in Richmond, Calif., on May 17, 2022 (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

California State Superintendent of Schools Tony Thurmond speaks during a news conference at Nystrom Elementary School in Richmond, Calif., on May 17, 2022 (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

In response, Mr. Komrosky said in a statement the same day that the board did not ban the textbook in question, but simply chose not to include it in the district’s social science-history curriculum.
He added that board trustees are also concerned about not getting sufficient feedback from the community in the process of selecting books and ensuring the curriculum satisfies students with special needs.
“What the governor has conveniently ignored is that members of the Board of Education expressed other significant concerns about the district’s process, including whether it had adequately engaged the community regarding the adoption of curriculum, as well as whether the proposed curriculum adequately addressed the needs of English learners and special education students,” he said in a July 13 statement.
Mr. Komrosky also called the governor’s claim that Temecula students would not have enough social studies textbooks by the start of the school year “categorically false.”
The board, he said, made arrangements with the publisher of its currently adopted social studies curriculum to ensure sufficient materials for all K–5 students in the district should a new curriculum not be adopted before the start of the school year.
Parents in support of the Temecula Valley Unified school board's decision to terminate the district’s superintendent amid controversy surrounding critical race theory and other school curricula attend a board meeting in Temecula, Calif., on June 13, 2023. (Micaela Ricaforte/The Epoch Times)

Parents in support of the Temecula Valley Unified school board's decision to terminate the district’s superintendent amid controversy surrounding critical race theory and other school curricula attend a board meeting in Temecula, Calif., on June 13, 2023. (Micaela Ricaforte/The Epoch Times)

Mr. Newsom previously criticized Mr. Komrosky on social media after the latter referred to Mr. Milk—reportedly the first openly gay man to be elected to public office in California—as a “pedophile.”
“An offensive statement from an ignorant person. This isn’t Texas or Florida. In the Golden State, our kids have the freedom to learn,” the governor wrote on Twitter June 3. “Congrats Mr. Komrosky, you have our attention. Stay tuned.”
Mr. Newsom and state Attorney General Rob Bonta also released a joint statement on June 7 demanding the board provide information regarding its process for rejecting the curriculum.
In a press conference on the same day, Mr. Komrosky said his comment did not target Mr. Milk’s sexual orientation, but to reports—including a 1982 biography titled “The Mayor of Castro Street”—that Mr. Milk had a sexual relationship with a teenage boy when he was 33 years old.
“I’ll ask you one simple question, governor—do you approve of any 33-year-old person, regardless of their gender identity or sexual preference, having a sexual relationship with a 16-year-old?” Mr. Komrosky asked.
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Micaela Ricaforte

Micaela Ricaforte

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Micaela Ricaforte covers education in Southern California for The Epoch Times. In addition to writing, she is passionate about music, books, and coffee.

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