Who should have more oversight of what is being taught to students: teachers or parents? That’s the basis of the debate that has erupted over an influx of new bills and other state-level actions aiming to censor what’s being taught in the classroom. The most recent proposal is Indiana House Bill 1134, which would require teachers to publish their lesson plans a year in advance.
Expanding “parents’ rights” in the classroom became a touchstone of Republican Glenn Youngkin’s campaign during the tense Virginia gubernatorial election with Democrat Terry McAuliffe. In an election debate with Youngkin last September, McAuliffe said, “I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach.”
The huge backlash to McAuliffe’s remarks demonstrated the growing impact that parents can have on high-stakes elections.
The Indiana bill joins a number of proposals in at least 10 states that would require administrators to list every book, reading, and activity that teachers use in their lessons.
Teachers expressed their outrage on Twitter over individuals with no classroom experience making decisions about their classroom practice.
‘No Idea How Teachers Work’
Curricula Is Already Made Available
Many teachers pointed out that this is not new—most classroom curricula are already public. “Teachers do hand out syllabi, libraries do have open access to the catalogs. This is assuming that there is an adverse relationship when there isn’t one,” said Deborah Caldwell-Stone, the director of the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom, in an Education Week article by Sarah Schwartz and Eesha Pendharkar.
Leaves No Room for Personalized Instruction
Teachers’ careers are built on the ability to adapt and respond to student needs over the course of a semester. Many feel stifled at the notion of having to build out each lesson a year in advance and worry about the impact this would have on individualized instruction.
Will More Teachers Leave?
It’s no secret that the United States is experiencing nationwide staffing shortages in schools. Adding this additional barrier to teaching could hinder a district’s ability to attract and retain educators at a time when they are so desperately needed.