Pennsylvania Senate Committee Advances Bill Requiring Schools to Post Online Course Information


Legislation touted as an effort to make it easier for parents to find out what their children are being taught in schools is headed for full review by the state Senate.

The Senate Education Committee on Monday adopted a 7-4 party line vote a modified version of the controversial bill. The measure was passed by the House of Representatives last week.

The committee approved changes to the bill to specify what information school districts, charter schools, middle units, and career and technical centers would be required to post on their websites and update them periodically.

This would include a course syllabus, course summary, the state academic standard for each course of instruction, and a title or link to the textbooks, but not if it violates any copyright law. Another change he made defines more clearly which school administrative official is responsible for posting information on the website.

Critics said the bill could be another mechanism to bring classrooms into culture wars, with residents pressuring schools not to use certain books or content in their teaching.

  • Pennsylvania schools may be required to publish their curriculum online. Is it transparency or censorship?

Regardless of the changes, the chances of the bill becoming law appear bleak.

A spokeswoman for Governor Tom Wolf called it an “unfunded mandate and a potentially dangerous way to push further to ensure that all learners have access to specifics in the story and exposure to content reflecting multiple student identities “.

Wolf spokeswoman Lyndsey Kensinger went on to say that critical race theory is not taught in any state-run curriculum at K-12 schools in Pennsylvania. She added, “To prepare our Pennsylvania learners for a global market, they need the ability to learn more about others and their experiences. It shouldn’t be a political discussion.

The sponsor of the bill, Representative Andrew Lewis of R-Dauphin County, described his legislation as an effort to modernize parents’ access to program information by making it available online. He said schools are already required to make curriculum information available to parents. Some have already posted it online, but he said his bill would normalize the practice.

During the Senate committee discussion, Senator Doug Mastriano of R-Franklin County said the bill would allow parents to “take a more active role in monitoring what their children are being taught. children “. He also said he believed it “would help alleviate much of the current distrust between the public and public schools.”

Senator Michelle Brooks, of R-Mercer County, said she hoped it would do even more than that.

“I hope this legislation will begin to bridge some of the divisions that we see not only across Pennsylvania but across the country by adding this transparency, but also creating a partnership with parents and the school district so that we can go moving forward with confidence and understanding and knowing what is being taught to our children, ”said Brooks.

But Senator Lindsey Williams, of D-Allegheny County, joined the other three Democrats on the committee in opposing the bill.

While saying she supports transparency, Williams endorsed the governor’s sentiment that this imposes an unfunded burden on schools and “is also part of a larger movement to pit the public against teachers and politicize l ‘education”.

She later added in a statement that the bill “is nothing more than a solution to the search for a problem, another effort to stir up controversy. It’s time we returned to making sure our teachers and school districts have the resources they need to do the essential work of educating and supporting our students.

Lewis later said he supported the Senate committee’s changes to his bill. The changes respond to the main concerns raised by opponents, he said. Lewis expressed his hope that the governor will come and sign the bill if it passes the Senate.

“To anyone who still opposes this common sense transparency bill after all concerns have been addressed through the amendment process, I would just ask them what they are trying to hide from parents,” did he declare.

Jan Murphy can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at @JanMurphy.

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