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Main Stream Media Panics Over K-12 Education Transparency Proposals

Main Stream Media Panics Over K-12 Education Transparency Proposals

Bills in numerous states proposing that K-12 materials be posted on the internet so parents can see what is being taught have teachers unions and mainstream media crying out loud.

The main stream media often comes off as little more than propaganda for radical leftism. If one pays close attention, one can see a discernible pattern in the way the MSM rolls out its think pieces on how Republicans have assaulted some bedrock foundation of society or another. A prominent recent example is the concern over how conservatives supposedly want to roll back voting rights for marginalized groups in America by not passing the federal takeover of elections.

Another example emerged this week, in the form of proposed transparency laws for K-12 curriculum in several (red) states.

According to a report this week at NBC News, curriculum transparency is some sort of right-wing boogeyman, and paradoxically also an assault on free speech:

They fought critical race theory. Now they’re focusing on ‘curriculum transparency.’

Conservative activists want schools to post lesson plans online, but free speech advocates warn such policies could lead to more censorship in K-12 schools.

As state legislatures kick into gear this month, Republican governors and lawmakers who have fought to limit discussions of race in public schools are lining up to support a new aim: curriculum transparency.

Lawmakers in at least 12 states have introduced legislation to require schools to post lists of all of their teaching materials online, including books, articles and videos. The governors of Arizona, Florida and Iowa, who have previously raised concerns about how teachers discuss racism’s impact on politics and society, called for curriculum transparency laws in speeches to their legislatures this month.

The report goes on to minimize the impact of critical race theory in K-12 education—obliquely referenced as “how teachers discuss racism’s impact”—while repeating the old trope that CRT usually only gets taught in law school. NBC says, “teachers, their unions and free speech advocates say the proposals would excessively scrutinize daily classwork and would lead teachers to pre-emptively [sic] pull potentially contentious materials to avoid drawing criticism.”

Local media reports about such a bill in Pennsylvania repeated the teachers union line that it fans the flames of parents versus teachers:

Critics say the bill puts a burden on school staff and is potentially a tool to censor teachers during a moment of intense debate about how race is taught in schools.

“House Bill 1332 is purposely misleading,” said Sen. Lindsey Williams (D-Allegheny County), minority chair of the Senate Education Committee.

“It’s framed as transparency, but really what it is is an unfunded mandate that stokes the flames of this larger national debate that is pitting the public against teachers…This is part of a larger war that says teachers should not be respected for their career and their expertise and that they shouldn’t have the ability to teach accurate history and cultural and racial competence to our students.”

The framing is obvious. Critical race theory (CRT) is a “catch-all term” that inflames parents to oppose “discussions of race and racism.” Since Texas, a deep red state, passed an anti-CRT law, the familiar line goes that other more sophisticated states shouldn’t pass such anti-teacher laws. Teachers unions only wish to have “difficult discussions” about the “systems of oppression” built into America’s “white supremacist” institutions.

Again, from the Pennsylvania report:

‘Unfunded mandate’ or ‘rebuilding trust’?

Speaking about the “curriculum transparency” bill, Philadelphia Federation of Teachers President Jerry Jordan, said he sees it as part of a larger national push to stop classroom lessons that prompt difficult questions about the legacy of American racism.

“The shameful truth of racism, both historically and today, must be taught. And as a society we must not just teach it, but do all we can to collectively dismantle the systems that have long failed Black and brown people,” said Jordan. “This bill is far from a benign attempt at increasing curriculum transparency.”

Pressure from activist groups has led at least one state to table its curriculum transparency bill:

The Indiana Senate will no longer consider a controversial school curriculum and transparency bill.

Senate Bill 167 was the subject of a nearly eight hour public hearing during the Senate education committee’s first meeting this year.

The bill would have required schools to create parent-led curriculum review committees. It would have also placed restrictions around how teachers talk about issues like race, religion and politics, among other things.

But in an emailed, one-sentence statement sent Friday, Senate President Pro Tem Rodric Bray (R-Martinsville) said members of his caucus “have determined there is no path forward” for the bill and that it will no longer be considered.

Imagine the horror of parents having the unfettered ability to view what teachers are teaching their children!

Only in this absurd post-COVID and post-George Floyd world could such an effort to inform parents be characterized as an assault on free speech.


Jeff Reynolds is the author of the book, “Behind the Curtain: Inside the Network of Progressive Billionaires and Their Campaign to Undermine Democracy,” available at www.WhoOwnsTheDems.com. Jeff hosts a podcast at anchor.fm/BehindTheCurtain. You can follow him on Twitter @ChargerJeff, on Parler at @RealJeffReynolds, and on Gab at @RealJeffReynolds.

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Comments

“but free speech advocates warn such policies could lead to more censorship in K-12 schools.”

But employees don’t have free speech rights while working for employers.
And, in case you forgot it, teachers are the employees, and we’re the employers.

Wait…when did I have anything resembling free speech rights when teaching children? That seems off to me. I self-censor like crazy because making kids believe what I believe isn’t my role.

I have exactly the opposite problem. I keep trying to tell parents what I am teaching and very few care at all.

    gibbie in reply to Dathurtz. | January 22, 2022 at 3:50 pm

    I hope people take this comment seriously.

    Education by government monopoly results in teachers who have to self censor.

    A large number of parents don’t care about what their children are being taught.

This is why parents are now identified as “domestic terrorists”. Of course MSM is in a panic. They’re terrorists! Now they want transparency in school curriculum? When will it end?

Morning Sunshine | January 21, 2022 at 8:32 pm

how about this: stick to the 3 R’s: Reading, wRiting, Reckoning (mathematics), especially in the K-6 years, and there will be no controversy. Focus on JUST those 3 will get kids further along than anything else you do; provide science experiments to those who are interested and keep a library stocked with books, and the rest will come.

Conservative “activists ”
Free speech “advocates”
Nice bias.

They’re not the “mainstream” media – they are the democrat media.

The filthy scumbags have infiltrated most media, and it might be a majority media now, but it’s been fading.

it is the :democrat media.”

Conservatives will never retake America ‘conservatively’. Instilling fear is necessary.

When exactly do teachers have time for all this posting of daily lesson plans online after a grueling schedule then grading then parent emails then lesson plans then aligning lesson plans to curricula then individual lesson plans for all the ISPs/504s then continuing education classes? Nor would I want my boss scrutinizing my every move and turning my every misstep or even a lone misstep into a batrachomyomachy (although it might help with kids acting up). Much less with 30 bosses per class. I’d never get any work done answering parent concerns.

This transparency plan sounds like an excellent plan to get rid of all the good teachers out there. I have no problem with asking districts to make the curricula available, or even letting parents visit the classroom whenever they want. But to expose oneself to all the constant nitpicking and claims of unfair treatment all day long is where I would draw the line.

I quit my 11-year teaching career in 2008 and took on a much easier and far more enjoyable career as a lawyer.

    healthguyfsu in reply to filiusdextris. | January 22, 2022 at 12:39 am

    Get your head out of your ass. Most curricula are decided by the school board so those lazy fantasies with bad attitudes can press a couple buttons to post it.

    I’m in education and even I know this doesnt have to fall on individual teachers (who since the pandemic have been required to post their class documents online anyways). I should know since my wife is one.

    This is not a viable argument since anyone who has ever taught (I did not teach in K-12 but did for almost 20 years at the college level) knows that you are handed a basic “course” that includes all the materials available to students that can be included, week and semester goals, etc. The thing is practically handed to teachers. All they have to do is work up their daily lesson plans (which is mostly just copy and paste from the approved document).

    Once that’s done once, it’s done forever. Teachers just do the same thing over and over, maybe tweaking this or that, but the basics remain the same from year to year. And it won’t change until there’s a new push to include further indoctrination materials and propaganda; at which point, new lesson plans must be constructed to further eliminate any actual learning and to replace it with the latest leftist angst du jour.

      Fuzzy…you don’t know what you are talking about. That doesn’t apply to K-12 education. In the past 11 years I have had to completely rebuild 5 classes 4 times. Done forever…I wish.

      Maybe it used to be that way? We don’t get new standards very often, but we get new guidelines all the time and our principals require us to be compliant with them.

      I wish I was done forever, but I am sure I will be redoing my yearly plans again in the next couple of years.

        Great to hear, Dathurtz! As I noted (repeatedly), I am talking about my personal experience teaching at the college level, so yes, I do know, extremely well, what I am talking about.

        At the same time, I am wondering what would be so hard about posting your lesson plans online if you have only had to change/rebuild them four times over 11 years? Just post your lesson plan, and if it changes, post an update–four times over 11 years doesn’t seem an onerous request to ensure that parents know what is going with their children.

          No fuzzy….you really really don’t. My wife teachers college and I see very well the workload difference and the oversight difference. You are generalizing a semi-related experience where isn’t applicable to do so.

          I fear you simply misunderstand the time it takes to build a course, particularly as you only have, at best, 1 paid hour a day in which to do it. We don’t get to teach 3 hours and then sit in our office the rest of the day.

          I hear you, Dathurtz, but if you are seriously building a new course every time you teach the same course, you are wasting your time and braying about how put upon your are . . . by a burden you created out of thin air. If you have a course in “X” already designed and planned, then why completely redo the “X” course all over again the next year? If it was completely awful, sure, okay, but wouldn’t you have noticed that as the year dragged on and made changes along the way? Thus having a solid template for the next year’s course?

          If you are being thrown new courses (i.e. subject areas), that’s another thing, but if you are working your butt off to create a new course for the exact same maths/English/science/blah course every year, you are wasting your time and contributing to your own stress. I don’t really have much respect for that.

          The state changes the emphasis in how we are to approach lessons. Since I have been teaching I have had 3 separate sets of state standards. There is some overlap, but they were pretty dramatic changes in both content and approach each time.

          I am hopeful with this last change because our state plagiarized the Next Gen Science Standards so I hope they leave it alone for a long time.

          One of those changes was my boss wanted me to use a really stupid canned curriculum, but it didn’t have daily plans in it. That was fun.

          Overall, I do post my scope and sequence and email parents every week with where we are. I am pretty sure none of them read it.

          So your argument against my points above . . . is what exactly? Because it sounds like we agree. But I could be wrong. 🙂

      My main point was the “you’re done with the hard part so here do more work” isn’t how it really works. The state keeps changing stuff.

      Also, I don’t think I have been able to keep a single week of in-person lesson plans in the last 2 years. Somethin always poppin up.

      I really had no argument beyond that. All my stuff is electronic anyways. It is a simple step to share it with parents who want it.

    Dathurtz in reply to filiusdextris. | January 22, 2022 at 8:02 am

    Posting online really doesn’t take any longer for us. We already have to submit our lesson plans electronically (which is a huge time consumer for me, but made no worse for this proposed change).

    I agree that teachers do an insane amount of absolute bullshit administrative work where the entire goal is to get you to tie your own noose if you screw up. I have considered leaving, not because of the amount, but because that amount is entirely pointless and nobody reads the paperwork unless they are looking to fire you.

    The only really crushing part is when there are 10-12 or so IEP/504 students in one class. Need a whole prep period just to do the paperwork for it every day.

      Real question.
      Does any supervisor approve or at the very least maintain a copy of your Lesson Plan?
      If so, then rather than all the individual teachers posting their plans, the supervisor post the approved plan.

        Dathurtz in reply to 1073. | January 22, 2022 at 11:51 am

        They are supposed to read and approve them, but rarely do.

        It would give them something to do, which I think they need. Admin, particularly at big schools, fill their day with pointless meetings so they don’t have to work. But, maybe I am jaded and should be more generous.

    Another argument for school choice. If you choose a school which is compatible with your worldview, the amount of legalism is greatly reduced.

    Milhouse in reply to filiusdextris. | January 23, 2022 at 1:10 am

    Sorry, you have 30 bosses. The parents are your clients. You are working for them, not for anyone else, and it is right and just that you be responsible to them. Because those are their children, not yours and not the school board’s and not the voters’ or the taxpayers’. So it is a higher priority than anything else that they should know what you are proposing to teach their children, and if they don’t like it you should listen to them, because you don’t have the right to teach their kids things that they don’t want them taught.

Creating an online, searchable resource of the State mandated curriculum along with school district or classroom teacher additions seems a low hurdle for any school district. Adding the semester lesson plan outline and reading list, source material list doesn’t require much more than what they do now. Every instructor has an outline of how they present the material.

The school admin is already supposed to be reviewing the material taught to ensure the instructor is adhering to State and local curriculum policies. Posting that to an online searchable resource is a basic step towards greater transparency. Those opposed are, IMO, either fear transparency or are deliberately obstructionist or both.
For that matter every State and local employee training resource should be available online in a searchable format for review by the taxpayers who fund it.

    Here’s the thing, this is already available. Teachers don’t have autonomy; they must teach and use the approved materials.

    ‘Teacher training’ could be accomplished in two seconds: pick up this folder; it’s what you’re teaching; go do it just as it says in this approved curriculum. Be sure to refer frequently to the “suggested” daily lesson plans in constructing your own.

    This authoritarian control over courses is one of the main reasons that I quit teaching . . . at the college level. It’s worse for K-12 teachers. Back in the day (when I first started teaching college in the late ’90s), I created my own syllabi, I said what the readings would be, I decided what would be read/discussed when and how. I crafted the arc of the course and ensured that it was illuminating, comprehensive, and engaging.

    Slowly, that all got choked out. Fast forward twentyish years: The final straw was when I was handed a syllabus on Modern American Literature (my area) that did not include any required readings by Hemingway, Faulkner, or Fitzgerald. I quit.

    I’d already become disgruntled because in addition to teaching lit I also taught frosh writing. That became such a joke that I couldn’t even stand to read student papers anymore, there was no point in it since I could not comment on their organization of ideas, development of same, research quality and use, grammar or punctuation . . .nothing, just on their “ideas.” Which had to be great because . . . they idea’d them. Shudder. It was a soul-destroying, if gradual, descent into being forced to take part in handing out college degrees to people who literally could not write a complete simple sentence (let alone a coherent paragraph).

    The sad thing is that these students are being destroyed. They think their degree is a ticket to the good life, to the American Dream. But they are illiterate, ignorant, and have no idea at all about whatever field they are studying because it’s all about DIE and passing out college degrees like candy. These people are being sold a bill of goods, they are being lied to and exploited. It made me sick. Actually, it still makes me sick.

      I agree there is no reason, from an education perspective, that a canned program shouldn’t be available to parents.

      Those canned programs are usually bought. How do you answer the company’s objection to widely distributing their materials? I have no idea if they have a real legal argument.

        Parents don’t need a day-by-day lesson plan (though these should be available on request), but they do need to know what is being taught to their children. What’s wrong with publishing a,say Grade 9, syllubus that inludes the exact texts that will be taught in the classroom, a sampling of assignments, and the desired learning outcome for Grade 9?

        What are the goals of a given grade’s teaching? DIE? Or actual learning of basic subject matter in an array of fields like the good ol’ reading, writing, and ‘rithmatic–and by 9th grade, civics courses, geopolitics, American and world history, AP options, and etc.?

        Parents have every right to know; in fact, all Americans, including those who do not currently have children in K-12 have a right to know. These children will be our nation’s future leaders, and if all they learn is that race is ALL that matters about a person and that America is and has always and will always be evil, we have a serious problem. A problem that must be shut down, nipped in the bud, nuked into next year, abolished, gone.

        As an aside, Dathurz, one thing that I find kind of amusing about all this (in the Munch long silent scream kind of way) is that this whole move to block parents from knowing what is going on with their child’s education gives lie to the left’s stance that Big Tech and Big Government surveillance are just dandy. After all, they bleat, if you have nothing to hide what does it matter is everyone can see where you are, what you buy, who you talk to, what you say to those people, and etc.? So hey, teachers’ unions and school boards, if you have nothing to hide, why . . . oh, right. They have plenty to hide.

    Dathurtz in reply to CommoChief. | January 22, 2022 at 8:32 am

    Honestly, I don’t see any real reason why not.

I just read this in the twitterverse, and looked it up to see if it was true.. Seems like Florida has voted to remove school board salaries. They think this will encourage people who really care about kids to be on those boards.. Seems like a great idea to me. Here, if you are interested…

https://weartv.com/news/local/florida-passes-bill-stripping-school-board-members-of-salaries

    This is a very good idea. Let’s do it for Congress, too, that was never meant to be a full-time job.

      broomhandle in reply to Fuzzy Slippers. | January 22, 2022 at 2:45 pm

      Would that make a difference in Congress? I thought that the game was influence peddling and insider knowledge that can be exploited after a politician is no longer in office. I’m not opposed to eliminating salaries for congress but I don’t think that compensation is what they are after. Am I wrong?

The problem isn’t that posting lesson plans online is hard. It’s that so many teachers never really create them. I went to a “Learning by Design” seminar as a student teacher, which was all about creating lesson plans. Every other participant was an experienced teacher. They were asked to bring samples of their current lessons as a starting point, but at least half of them had none to bring. When the classes were over, many of the participants thought having detailed lesson plans was too much work.

    Dathurtz in reply to elliesmom. | January 22, 2022 at 8:11 am

    Detailed lesson plans are great if you only teach one class. This is the first year of my career where I have fewer than 5. Doing the detailed lessons plans took up a full two days of my planning period. It isn’t too much work, but it is very time consuming and unnecessary.

      elliesmom in reply to Dathurtz. | January 22, 2022 at 9:21 am

      How can you teach a course without detailed lesson plans? How do you know if you met your goals if you haven’t articulated what they are? Lesson plans are the most necessary part of teaching unless someone has handed you a “canned course” to teach, which would already come with lesson plans.

      It became glaringly apparent most teachers work by the seat of their pants when they were forced to turn their classroom lessons into online ones. The essential questions the kids needed to be able to answer remained the same. A teacher with good solid lesson planning skills would have had lessons already planned that would have needed some tweaking to work online, but they wouldn’t have had to start from scratch. Assessments could for the most part remained the same. A true online teacher has a different set of skills, but classroom teachers who were well-prepared to teach in their classroom did a decent job during the pandemic as long as the kids showed up. The teachers who needed to start from scratch are the ones who needed weeks to get ready, complained about being overworked, and failed the kids.

        Dathurtz in reply to elliesmom. | January 22, 2022 at 9:28 am

        What do you mean by detailed? I mean the plans I had to make for my useless ed classes that planned everything in 3 minute increments. Those are silly and nonfunctional.

        I’ve been doing this long enough that something like “Ideal gas law today” is good enough for me be fully effective in my teaching. And, besides, detailed lessons NEVER happen as planned. EVER. There are zero vet teachers who don’t understand that they are simply a waste of time.

        If you have time to make detailed lesson plans for multiple classes a day, then you are either neglecting your family or yourself.

          CommoChief in reply to Dathurtz. | January 22, 2022 at 10:16 am

          Yeah a semester outline and source material with a weekly update that lets Parents know what is happening is fine. Sure you could try and build a minute by minute breakdown but that’s not going to happen with any certainty. If the State/District really want that level of detail then it would make sense to have it created centrally and test run a few years with corrections made and only then imposed on the class.

          The issue with instructors working multiple subjects is a problem. You won’t like my answer though. Require a BA/BS with a major in the subject to be taught. If that means a History major, an MA in International relations, a political science major and a Sociology major teach individual courses to replace a single Social Studies teacher so be it.

          Open up the classroom to folks with the academic credentials to instruct the subject matter. Get rid of Ed grads. As far as being constrained to a set curriculum in K -12, the set curriculum is the point. If a particular teacher really wants to teach something besides the basics they can earn a PhD and get in line on the academic track at a University. K-12 is about a general grounding not concepts or theories from a graduate seminar elective course.

          In most (if not all) states, an Education degree requires that the student pick a major and get their degree in that field. So an Ed BA or BS may have their degree field in English or Engineering, or Unicorn Studies. This supposedly “qualifies” them to teach that subject area.

          The problem, and why everyone (even we English majors) scoffs at them, is that this is accomplished within the BA/BS hours. A BA/BS is typically 120 or so credit hours. In Ed, they require that a huge chunk of that be in “education” courses, so in addition to the basic requirements for a four-year degree, they have to take their DIE/social justice “education” courses, and only after that do they take a handful of courses (three or so) in the actual field they are going to teach.

          This is why everyone knows that Ed. degrees are the hugest joke in academia (even after the isms degrees) and their holders are deemed (and actually, almost uniformly, are) dumber than rocks.

          Dathurtz in reply to Dathurtz. | January 22, 2022 at 11:02 am

          Commo…I absolutely love that idea.

          1. Better teaching like that.

          2. Less competition for me.

          gibbie in reply to Dathurtz. | January 22, 2022 at 4:06 pm

          Fuzzy, Thanks for that description of ed school. This is exactly what I have heard from everyone I know who has had to go through it.

        elliesmom in reply to elliesmom. | January 22, 2022 at 12:24 pm

        A lesson plan-

        What are the essential questions that need answers or skills I expect the students to have at the end of the lesson?

        How am I going to assess whether the lesson was successful?

        What activities am I going to do with the students to achieve the goal of the class lesson?

        It’s not rocket science. You start with a unit plan, and then you break the unit down into lessons. Yes, it takes some time to do it right. But it’s your job if you’re a teacher to have a goal of what you’re going to teach and how you’re going to get there and a way to assess whether you met your goal. Knowing your subject means nothing if you’re haphazard about how you’re going to move that knowledge from your head to your students. Most people believe if someone is knowledgeable in his field, he can teach it, but we’ve all had brilliant people who sucked at teaching.

      I wonder if we all mean the same thing by “lesson plan.” I would jot mine out for the class I was teaching that day during my commute on the train; it took all of five minutes. Again, though, I did not teach K-12, so my students already had a syllabus of the entire course readings and any quizzes, tests, etc., so my lesson plan was basically what I was going to do with that day’s scheduled materials that day.

      Let’s say they read “Harrison Bergeron” and “The Unknown Citizen” for today.

      Roll call.
      Return papers from last week (back when they submitted them in hard copy)
      Get discussion rolling on the two works assigned this week.
      Poss disc. ? if needed: Who is JS/07 M 378? How do we “know” this “Unknown Citizen”? What information do we have? How is that data attained? Was he free, was he happy?
      Looking at HB: What is the main conflict in HB? How far should government or society go in ensuring that all citizens are equal? Does Harrison feel like he might as well be called “JS/07 M 378”? Why or why not?

      Lecture: Satire: origins, examples, HB. Historical framework. Similar socio-cultural conditions and factors in the ’30s/early ’40s and ’60s. What were the authors saying and why?
      Go over next week’s assignment. Q&A

      And done. (And actually, my lesson plans were usually far less detailed than this, sometimes just key words or points I wished to make–obviously this was where they learned about satire. I enjoyed engaging with classes and just going with the flow (back when that was still possible). If I were to make lesson plans available online, I would obviously flesh them out a bit, but the basics wouldn’t change.

      So I agree with you that detailed lesson plans are unnecessary, but to spend two days on one? Unless you are building a course from scratch, how can it possibly take that long?

        Sorry, it took about two hours per week to put everything into a format required by the school.

        My real lesson plans usually happen on paper, take about 15 minutes, and are highly effective. Those lesson plans wouldn’t pass muster with a lot of principals. They want me to spend literal hours planning every few minutes of every class. Plan out 5 hours every day in 3 minute increments and see how long it takes you just to type it out. It’s a long time. Plus, ya know, the actual planning to be effective.

        Plan loose is a good thing. Stuff goes wrong, you realize a lot of kids didn’t get your approach and you have to try again, they are missing some key background you need to reteach, etc.

        If you plan tight, you either aren’t actually teaching or you won’t be able to keep your plans.

          CommoChief in reply to Dathurtz. | January 22, 2022 at 10:29 am

          Absofuckinglutly. Detailed plans to the minute don’t have a hope of survival in the real world. Sure backwards plan from the ultimate objective in a broad sense by what is
          planned to be covered weekly leaving time for interruption or retraining. A by the minute requirement is eye wash for pencil pushers who need to justify their job.

          Dathurtz in reply to Dathurtz. | January 22, 2022 at 11:30 am

          Commo, they usually don’t even read them. It took this dummy two full years to realize nobody reads all the stuff I wrote for admin.

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