A bill that would require Pennsylvania school districts to post curriculum online received approval from a key Senate panel on Monday.
The Senate Education Committee voted along party lines to advance House Bill 1332 to the chamber floor for consideration.
“[The bill] allows parents to play a greater and more active role in the oversight of what their children are being taught,” said Sen. Doug Mastriano, R-Gettysburg, before noting that giving online access to the course information will help “restore trust.”
But Democrats on the committee warned that the mandate will further burden school staff and invite unwarranted criticism.
“I’m all for transparency and accountability … but right here we have an unfunded mandate on school districts who are already under a lot of pressure,” said Democratic Chairwoman Lindsey Williams. “And this is also part of a larger movement to pit the public against teachers and politicize education while undermining the teaching of accurate history and racial and cultural confidence.”
The sentiments echo concerns relayed by Democrats on the House floor when the lower chamber approved the bill last week.
“It’s about bringing the fights that start on Fox News to a kindergarten classroom near you,” said Rep. Dan Frankel, D-Pittsburgh. “This legislation is an invitation to the book burners and the anti-maskers to harass our schools and our teachers.”
Other concerns raised included that the requirement was too burdensome and duplicative and that the definition of curriculum in the bill—academic standards to be achieved, instructional materials, assessment techniques, and course syllabuses—went too far.
Frankel also said posting the information online invites challenges from people who don’t even live in the district.
“If parents really want access to their children’s school books, they already can,” he said. “But if parents aren’t dissatisfied and aren’t protesting, then there’s no reason to invite QAnon supporters from around the country to weigh in our teachers’ choices.”
Prime sponsor Rep. Andrew Lewis, R-Harrisburg, said it’s only an extension of what some districts already do—and gives parents access to what their kids are learning without having to visit a school building in person.
“The curriculum plan, including textbooks, needs to be online for parents to review at any time, and those websites need to be updated each time the curriculum is revised,” he said. “Too many parents have no idea what is being taught until they see their children’s homework.”
Originally published at The Center Square. Republished with permission.