(Washington)— In response to the U.S. Department of Education’s appointment of a so-called “book czar” in response to the unprecedented rise of book bans in schools,  Nadine Farid Johnson, PEN America’s Washington director, responded with the following comment:

“Book removals and restrictions continue apace across the country, as the tactics to silence certain voices and identities are sharpened. Empowering the coordinator to address this ongoing movement is critical. We welcome the appointment of Deputy Assistant Secretary Matt Nosanchuk and we look forward to seeing continued efforts by the Department of Education to ensure students’ freedom to read.”

Nosanchuk is a former Obama administration official and nonprofit leader whose work has focused on the Jewish and LGBTQ+ communities. He started his job Monday as a deputy assistant secretary in the department’s Office for Civil Rights. He will oversee the administration’s response to school content challenges and take action if it is determined that removing materials violated students’ civil rights.

PEN America has been at the forefront of documenting and defending against the unprecedented rise of school book bans nationwide. Texas, Florida and Missouri lead with the most books banned currently. Depriving students of literary works flies in the face of basic constitutional freedoms and PEN America is suing Escambia County, Florida, over its book bans.

Black and LGBTQ+ authors and books about race, racism, and LGBTQ identities have been disproportionately affected in the book bans documented by PEN America in the last year and a half. The wave of book banning is worse than anything seen in decades with PEN America counting more than 4,000 book bans since the fall of 2021. Read more about PEN America’s work on this issue here.

About PEN America

PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect open expression in the United States and worldwide. We champion the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. Our mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible. To learn more visit PEN.org

Contact: Suzanne Trimel, [email protected], 201-247-5057