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Public Education in Crisis: a discussion on the impact of censorship and recent statutes undermining public education in Florida

Webinar featuring PEN America and Florida Freedom to Read discussing the state of censorship efforts in K-12 public education and how recent and proposed Florida legislation undermine our public education system.



Kasey Meehan is the Freedom to Read Program Director at PEN America, leading our initiatives to protect the right of students to freely access literature in schools. Previously, Kasey served as the Associate Director of Postsecondary Policy at a mission-driven education research organization in Philadelphia, Research for Action. Kasey’s research centers students, educators, and school leaders’ experiences in identifying strategies for reform and capturing emerging best practices and strives to connect research to policy and program change. Kasey holds a BA from the University of Pennsylvania and a MPA from the Fels Institute at the University of Pennsylvania, along with a Certificate in Politics.  

Katie Blankenship is the inaugural director of PEN America’s new Florida office. She oversees advocacy in defense of free expression, including strategies for educating and empowering writers and other communities, in the state that has led the nation in book bans and education gag orders that limit what can be taught and learned in public classrooms. The new presence in Florida was funded by a group of bestselling writers who came together to fight censorship in Florida.

Stephana Ferrell is an Orange County Public School parent of two. Caring deeply about academic freedom, freedom of speech, truth in education, and equal access, Stephana found other like-minded people after writing an op-ed in the local paper about districts removing books. She is a photographer by trade and spent nearly a decade in corporate training. Now, she spends her days tracking censorship in Florida as Director of Research & Insight of Florida Freedom to Read Project.