Governor Newsom and State Leaders: If Temecula School Board Won’t Do Its Job, State Will

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: California will secure textbooks for students in Temecula if the local school board fails to take action at its next board meeting and the state will enact legislation to impose fines on any school district that fails to provide adequate instructional materials.

SACRAMENTO – Governor Gavin Newsom, joined by Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond, Senate President pro Tempore Toni G. Atkins, Assembly Speaker Robert Rivas, and Assemblymember Dr. Corey Jackson today announced the State of California will begin the process of securing textbooks for students in the Temecula Valley Unified School District and enact legislation to fine school districts for failure to provide adequate instructional materials. Elementary students in Temecula are slated to begin the school year on August 14, 2023, without enough textbooks for every student because of the school board’s decision to reject a widely used social studies curriculum.

“Cancel culture has gone too far in Temecula: radicalized zealots on the school board rejected a textbook used by hundreds of thousands of students and now children will begin the school year without the tools they need to learn,” said Governor Newsom. “If the school board won’t do its job by its next board meeting to ensure kids start the school year with basic materials, the state will deliver the book into the hands of children and their parents — and we’ll send the district the bill and fine them for violating state law.”

“I am glad to join in this action with Governor Newsom today and thank him for his leadership in calling for Temecula’s school board to reverse course to prevent further harm to students,” said State Superintendent Thurmond. “Inclusive education promotes the academic achievement and social development of our students.  School Districts should not ban books in California, especially as it harms students of color and LGBTQ+ youth.  AB1078 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.”

“Censoring learning materials based on bigotry and ignorance prevents our students from getting a good education,” said Senate President pro Tempore Toni G. Atkins (D-San Diego). “Culture war extremism doesn’t belong in the debate of how to teach our children and school districts should always put students first. That’s why I’m pleased the Governor is stepping in to make sure the children in Temecula have textbooks to start the year, and I look forward to working with the Governor and the assembly on a clear legislative solution. We have a duty to help eliminate ignorance in all its forms.”

“The antics of the Temecula Valley Unified School District are intolerable and damaging to its students’ opportunities to grow, prosper, and succeed,” said Assembly Speaker Robert Rivas. “Book bans betray the most basic of California’s core values. I hope the members of the school board are able to reflect on their decisions and come to make better decisions for our children’s futures.”

“Book banning is not acceptable and will not stand in California,” said Assemblymember Dr. Corey Jackson. “It is my honor to have the Governor’s support of Assembly Bill 1078. This sends a clear message that such actions will not be tolerated. We stand united in our commitment to protect our students’ access to diverse educational materials and ensure an inclusive educational environment. We will not go backward. We will meet this historical moment.”

Temecula Valley Unified School District’s current curriculum is outdated and in violation of state law. Students in the district are forced to use a textbook published in 2006. In the process of acquiring updated textbooks for students in grades one through five on May 16, 2023, school board President Joseph Komrosky asserted false claims about the instructional materials. The board voted by a 3-2 majority to reject the adoption of the new social studies curriculum that was recommended by teachers representing every elementary school in the district and overwhelmingly supported by parents and community members. The textbook, one of four standard programs approved by the state, is routinely and widely used across hundreds of school districts in California.

Following the school board’s decision, Governor Newsom and state leaders wrote a letter to school districts statewide highlighting the legal obligations of districts and joined California Attorney General Rob Bonta in demanding information and answers from the board. The administration also began working with the Legislature and Superintendent Thurmond to advance AB 1078 (Jackson) to strengthen state law to ensure students in California have access to adequate instructional materials. Among other provisions, AB 1078 would:

  • Require a two-thirds supermajority vote for a school board to remove instructional materials or curriculum;
  • Establish a process for the California State Department of Education to purchase adequate standards-aligned instructional materials for a district, if the district has failed to provide them for students; and
  • Institute a funding penalty for school districts that do not sufficiently provide standards-aligned instructional materials.

California provides instruction and support services to roughly 5.9 million students in grades transitional kindergarten through twelve in more than 1,000 districts and over 10,000 schools throughout the state. Under Governor Newsom’s leadership, education funding is at a record high in California, totaling $129.2 billion in the 2023-24 budget.

Governor Newsom released a video to Temecula parents that can be viewed here.