HomeRights, Justice, and Culture NewsExclusive Report: Popular Online Curriculum Platform Bypasses Parents’ Oversight

Exclusive Report: Popular Online Curriculum Platform Bypasses Parents’ Oversight

Parents are concerned about the curriculum used to teach their children in public schools. Several recent school board meetings have erupted in chaos and were overwhelmed by angry, frustrated parents. Curriculum and teaching materials have become a focal point.

State and local education departments nation-wide have adopted curriculum rooted in left-wing ideology and aimed at teaching young children radical ideas about race and sex. Much of the instruction undermines and contradicts traditional American values.

The National Sex Education Standards, for example, are curricula developed by three left-wing groups receiving federal government funding, Daily Caller reports. Several states are currently considering revising their curriculum, using materials provided by the radical organizations. In schools adopting their programs, students as young as five are taught sex education and the ideology of gender fluidity.

“Students in kindergarten are taught the names of reproductive organs and introduced to gender identity and reproduction,” writes Varun Hukeri for Daily Caller. “Students in elementary school are taught about masturbation, hormone blockers, sexual diseases, and ‘gender expansive’ identities like transgender or non-binary. Students in middle school are taught about abortion, contraception, and the types of sexual intercourse. Students in early high school are taught about ‘reproductive justice,’ a term used by proponents of abortion.”

In addition to explicit and distorted sexual education, parents have recently learned of efforts to teach their children radical racist ideology. Critical race theory has moved from college campuses to elementary schools in several states. Children are taught that America is inherently racist, and bad. Children are categorized, labeled, and segregated by race in the classroom.

Some states moved quickly to ban the radical racist teaching from their schools and to restrict the use of the curriculum.

The process for selecting curriculum varies from state to state and even school to school. Teachers like to select their own curriculum, but that has resulted in wide-ranging results, Jamie Gass, Director of the Center for School Reform at the Pioneer Institute told Budget & Tax News.

“One of the big problems going back decades is this ongoing commitment to K-12 educational fads,” Gass said. “Things like Common Core, social/emotional learning, and lots of highly politicized efforts that will never deliver results for kids.”

Decades of experimentation have left students lacking basic skills. With no universal curriculum and no oversight, teachers or schools are often left on their own to select teaching materials.

“States need high quality K-12 math and English standards—and they need state standards with some degree of oversight,” Gass said. “States also need some way to make sure that there’s academic quality in the curriculum and we don’t really have that today. No curricular oversight nor any basic way to evaluate it is the default setting, so that most teachers just share and what they tend to share around is often poor-quality materials.”

Teachers want to determine their own curriculum and select their own materials, but Gass says this is not the best solution.

Teachers currently can obtain teaching materials through a curriculum-sharing organization, Teachers pay Teachers (TpT), a web-based platform that allows educators to purchase curriculum and educational materials created by other teachers.

There are two options for teachers to use this service. They can request that their administration establish a business relationship with Teachers pay Teachers, or they can create their own access.

The Teachers pay Teachers website boasts that it is “The world’s most popular online marketplace for original educational resources” and encourages teachers to purchase materials from one another through the site.

Launched in 2006, TpT advertises impressive statistics regarding its reach into the education community.

“Today, TpT empowers teachers with the world’s largest catalog of over 5 million pieces of educator-created content,” the website states. “Our community of more than 7 million educators, including 85 percent of PreK-12 U.S. teachers use TpT to save time, support students, and learn from each other.”

The organization currently advertises that schools can apply taxpayer-provided COVID relief funds to their TpT subscription.

The usage data cited on TpT’s website indicate a significant influence on teachers’ choice of curriculum materials for students:

7 million teachers used TpT in the past year.

5 million resources are available on TpT today.

1 billion resources have been downloaded from TpT.

The site also promotes the ability to track trending materials to determine their popularity. The materials used most frequently are easily identified.

Popularity is not the best measure of the quality of materials, says Gas. The fact that other teachers used a lesson does not mean it is reliable or rigorous, says Gass.

“Curriculum that is shared around is often not very good,” Gass said. “The problem is K-12 curriculum and materials are just not very good in terms of academic quality. And there’s no way to externally verify what is any good or not.”

Many administrators see no problem with this. The website says more than 8,000 principals have introduced TpT to their schools, though even teachers who do not have a school connection can obtain materials directly through the public site.

Created by a New York city public school teacher, Paul Edelman, TpT provides teacher resources from pre-kindergarten through 12th grade. Edelman says he believes teachers should be able to use their own talent and innovation to create materials and share them with others. The stated mission of the organization is to help teachers connect to teach other and share resources and information.

“Teachers can simply request through the school’s site content that they want,” says Ron Farrow, Principal of Franklin Elementary in Cape Girardeau, Missouri in a TpT video.

Assistant Principal April Becherer of Eagleview Elementary in Columbia, Illinois says in the same TpT video she knows teachers use TpT all the time on their own, and “if I can help that process, maybe take a little bit of the burden off, give them what they need, right then a week later then I feel like they are going to really work on what resources they want, really buy into the curriculum, really research and make sure it’s what’s best for the kids.”

TpT CEO Adam Freed says teachers almost always know about TpT, but most people outside the teaching profession do not. “The company has lived under the radar,” Freed said. “It’s been a place where teachers came to get quiet help.”

“Teachers think they have something good because other teachers have used it, but that’s not necessarily the case,” Gass said.

Teachers should not be a position to select curriculum unilaterally, but they should not be excluded from the decision-making process either, says Rebecca Friedrichs, a former teacher and the Founder of For Kids and Country. Curriculum should be selected by a committee answerable to the taxpayers who pay for the schools, Friedrichs says.

“Curriculum committees should include parents and should also include teachers with the topic expertise. Parents and communities should be involved,” Friedrichs said.

Parents must have access to the curriculum and clear understanding of what their children are being taught, says. Max Eden of the American Enterprise Institute. Transparency is a critical key to reform, says Eden. If teachers alone review textbooks, bias can dictate the process. A Rand study found most teachers recommend materials based on their own preferences, not an objective assessment.

What America’s children learn is significant to parents, employers, communities, and the country. Political commentator Patrick Buchanan says we need to remember that, in addition to educating children, the schools are entrusted to build informed and responsible citizens.

“For what their children are taught and not taught in the public schools to which parents consign them from age 5 to age 18 are matters of grave concern for those parents,” Buchanan writes in School Reform News. “For it will affect the kind of adults and citizens their children will become. Who, in the education of America’s children, decides what is historically, morally and socially true? And who is allowed to participate in those decisions?”

Eileen Griffin
Eileen Griffin
Eileen Griffin writes from Richland, Washington.

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