Proposal approved in Cobb County for statewide book rating system

The Cobb County school superintendent will ask the legislature for a law requiring ratings for school books to define which books are inappropriate.

MARIETTA, Ga. — The Cobb County School Board approved, on Thursday, a proposal by the superintendent to ask the legislature for a law imposing a rating system on all school books in the state.

Cobb County wants one statewide standard defining which books are inappropriate for students and which are okay. 

Current state law empowers parents, principals and local school boards to make those decisions, and under that law, the state stays out of it.

But Cobb School Superintendent Chris Ragsdale said it’s time to give a statewide rating to every single school book according to its sexual content–G, PG, PG-13, and so forth–like TV and movie ratings, to guide parents and their school systems in making their decisions about which books are appropriate for their students.

Ragsdale will ask the state legislature to figure out how to rate the books.

“We have the ratings system for movies, we have nothing for books, whatsoever,” Ragsdale told the school board Thursday. “I think it just makes common sense to put some kind of rating system in there.”

Texas enacted a rating system for all its school books earlier this year.

“We’re going after one thing and one thing only, and that is radically sexually explicit content,” said the bill’s author, Republican Representative Jared Patterson.

But booksellers, librarians, and other opponents said it would be practically impossible for a state administrative office to read every book and then get a legal opinion on which rating to give the book.

“We have figured out that it would cost us in the millions of dollars,” said bookseller Valerie Koehler. “It’s not for us to determine what’s appropriate for you and your family.”

A federal court ruling has blocked the Texas law from taking effect, until judges decide if the law is constitutional.

Cobb County school board member Becky Sayler said at the board meeting that she is skeptical of anyone with the state deciding which of Cobb’s books should be rated as inappropriate.

“Inappropriate according to who?” Saler said. “I think this could get us into a situation where people outside of Cobb County are deciding on what books we can have in Cobb County.”

But the Cobb School Board voted unanimously to ask the legislature to enact, as soon as in 2024, a plan to impose a rating system for all school books across the state.

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