A Bill To Post Teaching Materials Would Help, Not Hurt, Arizona schools

Transparency builds trust.

And though school districts in Arizona and around the country tout trust as one of their core values, they’ve been keeping parents in the dark about the materials used in the classroom to educate students.

Thankfully, state legislators around the country are waking up to the cries of parents and working to pass common-sense curriculum transparency bills that would require public schools to disclose publicly what they are assigning in the classroom.

But the road to successful passage of these bills will not be without a fight. State legislatures are up against pushback from teachers union representatives, special interest groups and district administrators.

These groups claim that parents already have access to lesson plans based on existing parental rights laws. Parents are rightly challenging this notion.

In a recent case, Nicole Solas, a Rhode Island mom who is being bullied by school districts for refusing to back down on the crucial issue of education transparency, is now facing legal action for standing up for her children.

School districts have gone so far as to raise public records request fees up to thousands of dollars in a bid to stonewall parents. In Solas’ case, the National Education Association sued her in hopes of stopping her efforts to expose the controversial materials being taught to students in her district.

In Florida, curriculum transparency efforts are on life support. Special interest groups have shamed supporters of curriculum transparency into retreating from their push to bolster and write into law parents’ right to know about age inappropriate and other questionable academic materials ahead of time.

In Arizona, Senate Bill 1211, a bill that would increase academic transparency, passed through the Senate Education Committee along party lines, 5-3. This is good news.

Still, anti-transparency activists are coming out in full force against the bill, claiming that mandated curriculum transparency will place a high administrative burden on schools, forcing even more teachers out of the profession.

Arizona Education Association President Joe Thomas testified to that effect in front of the committee, saying that this bill will push already stressed teachers further out the door and that they won’t want to come back.

In many cases, Arizona K-12 teachers are in fact underpaid and overworked. But greater academic transparency will strengthen the bond between educators, parents and the community, not add further tension to the already strained relationships.


Because district and school leadership can design an easy plan for educators to post their learning materials online. This doesn’t burden teachers, and it’s a proactive and productive way to rebuild trust in our learning communities.

An online collection of course materials would also give teachers and educators a way to quickly find resources effectively, statewide. This allows teachers to benefit from knowing what resources their colleagues have found successful.

If SB 1211 were passed into law, there would be no need to debate whether or not divisive lessons are being taught in the classroom. The teaching materials would speak for themselves.

The state Legislature must proactively provide parents with the opportunity to see if their local schools are focused on academics or activism before they make an enrollment decision.

With SB 1211 in place, schools will find themselves held accountable for what they are teaching. Nothing done in a K-12 classroom should be done in darkness. This bill will assure that all learning materials are brought into the light and that parents can make an informed decision about how they want their son or daughter to be educated.

Curriculum transparency legislation should be an uncontroversial remedy to the current state of affairs we’re seeing not only in Arizona, but across America. Parents will no longer need to be worried about or wonder what their children are learning, and teachers will benefit from having access to their colleagues’ materials at their fingertips.

While no state has yet enacted a law to require that schools proactively post curriculum materials online, Matt Beienburg, director of education policy at Goldwater Institute, predicts that curriculum transparency bills will be voted on in at least a dozen states this year.

SB 1211 is a great way for Arizona to lead the way and rebuild trust between parents and schools.

Amy Carney is deputy director of Building Education for Students Together (BEST), a project of FreedomWorks, an organization that advocates the principles of smaller government, lower taxes, free markets, personal liberty and the rule of law.


Click Here To Take Action