Parents Need Academic Transparency, not Intimidation, from their School Boards

Matt Beienburg:

It should not be this way, and fortunately, it doesn’t have to be.

The Goldwater Institute’s Academic Transparency Act model language, which has been adapted into legislation passed by the Arizona State Senate and the North Carolina House of Representatives this spring and is now also being advanced in Wisconsin—would provide parents unprecedented access to the classroom materials being presented to their kids. Under the legislation, schools would post on a publicly accessible portion of their website a simple list (i.e., syllabus) of the actual materials being used in student instruction so that prospective parents like Nicole Solas could immediately review the type of content awaiting her daughter if she were to enroll at the local public district school.

Teachers wouldn’t be required to violate copyright law or spend time scanning materials, but rather simply account for whatever curriculum resources they used during instructional periods—whether that be textbooks, essays like those from the 1619 Project, or online news articles—in a format as simple as a Google Doc.

It should not take hundreds or thousands of dollars—much less a willingness to brave the threat of retaliatory lawsuits, as in Ms. Solas’ case—for parents to know what is being taught in the nearby schools in which they’re considering enrolling their students.

With academic transparency, those roadblocks to parental awareness and engagement can become a thing of the past.