It has come to my attention that Senate Bill 167 and House Bill 1134 are under consideration to “improve parental involvement” in the school curricula. While this is purported to be a step forward, let us examine some of the ramifications of this legislation.
1. Teachers must post lesson plans and curricular materials on line far enough in advance to provide sufficient time for parental review. If there is a parental objection to any portion the teacher must provide an alternative plan for that student.
2. Educators could not interact with students over social and emotional issues without prior parental approval. i.e. should a student express suicidal thoughts educators could not intervene immediately.
3. Bans teaching that Nazism is bad with prohibitions placed upon eight additional subjects including sex, race, ethnicity, religion, color, national origin or political affiliation.
4. School curriculum for each school will be determined by a committee appointed by the school board composed of 60% parents and 40% educators.
5. Any parent can accuse a teacher of violating this law regardless of whether they have a student in the class. The teacher can be suspended without pay, terminated and/or have their license revoked.
6. Librarians can be sued or jailed for any materials in the library deemed harmful by parents.
There are many other negative aspects of this legislation but in the interest of brevity I will stop the list and add a few comments.
1. Allowing parents to require lesson changes to the proposed lesson plans could result in 25 lesson plans for a class of 25. What chaos. How can any student learn under those conditions?
2. Similarly prohibiting educators from interacting with students on social issues such as suicidal thoughts could be highly detrimental to student welfare. Most educators have training on how to handle these situations. How many parents do?
3. Giving parents the right to accuse a teacher of violating this law with possible suspension is tantamount to approving a popularity contest for teachers, particularly when the accusing parent does not have to have a child in the class.
4. Do I really need to discuss the possibility of jailing librarians because a parent deems something in the library harmful? Are we back to the Scopes monkey trial over natural selection?
5. We are already ranked something like 46th in the country in education. This proposed bill would make it much more difficult to attract and retain quality teachers. Is our goal to be 50th in the nation in education?
6. We are already rated among the five worst states to live in. Do we want to be last here too?
I would strongly urge contacting your legislators and request that they vote no on these bills.
James Bell is a New Castle resident.