Progressives must stop fighting parents on education

For the left to be saying that there should not be transparency in curriculum is anathema to their whole program.

Libby Emmons Brooklyn NY

After legislators in many states began proposing laws that would demand curriculum transparency, the American Civil Liberties Union, as well as teachers unions and other progressives, came out against it. Transparency in curriculum is actually an amazing legislative concept. And the idea for these kinds of transparency in certain laws should be well praised by the left as well as the right.

The ACLU claims that "Curriculum transparency bills are just thinly veiled attempts at chilling teachers and students from learning and talking about race and gender in schools." These groups link parents' desire to see what their kids are being taught with racism and transphobia, but it simply isn't the case.

The ACLU didn't used to be so opposed to transparency, either; they used to believe that accountability required transparency. Now, after a decade that saw them completely reverse their entire mission and set of values, they are advocating against parents getting to know what goes on in classrooms and what their kids are being taught.

Education is taking a national spotlight and it's because it impacts all of us, whether we have kids or not. Education, and the quality of our education determines the quality of our future leaders and businesses and our future parents.
For the left to be saying that there should not be transparency in curriculum is anathema to their whole program. We want parents to be involved in their kids' education. We want parents, when their kids come home, to say "what homework do you have today? Let's have a look at that together. Is there anything I can help you with?" We want parents to be able to look at materials along with their kids to help them understand it.

The qualification of putting a syllabus online prior to the start of school year, knowing that other forms of media will come into the room, that adjustments will be made along the way, is not a burden. Teachers come up with coursework before start of term anyway, this would just make that coursework accessible to parents and students prior to the start of the year. It would give a roadmap so that parents and kids can work together to know what's coming, to understand the learning map, and yes, to pose concerns where concern is warranted.

Randi Weingarten, president of one of the biggest teachers unions, is clearly against this, but this is something that she should know would be hugely helpful to the parents of New York City, where she is.

Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, said that "Good schools and good school districts have always had curriculum transparency — including extensive two-way communication between parents and educators on what we are teaching and how to support our kids. Pretending otherwise is just the latest attempt by Chris Rufo and others to exploit the frustration of Covid to create a toxic environment where the biggest losers are children and their recovery."

But in New York City during the pandemic, the only transparency was via Google Meet screens, and despite teachers' best efforts under really trying circumstances, it was very hard for parents, or students, to get a handle on the curriculum, expectations, or what was coming next. Things were constantly shifting, hard to follow, and often led to kids and parents throwing up their hands in frustration. Test scores and assessments attest to the failure of our educational system over the past few years.

And now, as the pandemic wanes, New York City students are going to school—schools are open; they're not closed. But even so, a lot of times materials don't come home. They stay in the classroom, lessons are given in worksheets, text books never come home, or the work is given in Google Classroom, and we don't even really know what it is without digging through endless links and creating new accounts and passwords to access lessons.

The ACLU, Weingarten, and other progressive opponents should know that giving parents the chance to know what their kids are learning is the right thing to do. Parents are allies, not adversaries, regardless of what the Biden administration, the National School Boards Association, and teachers unions would have us believe.

What's making parents angry is that they are being left out of this conversation. They are hearing snippets and tidbits of what's going on in the classroom, without being able to have any input and without even knowing where to look to understand what's coming next. Give parents a chance. We don't hate education, obviously. It's because we really want our kids to be well educated, that this has become a national issue.

For decades, teachers, unions, and progressives have wanted parents to be involved. Now that we are, they don't like it, but they should.


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