Pennsylvania Democrats oppose education transparency bill

by mcardinal

Chris Lange, FISM News


The Pennsylvania House of Representatives approved a measure last week that would require K-12 schools to post curriculum online, giving parents access to what their children are being taught in school.

“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,” said the bill’s primary sponsor, Rep. Andrew Lewis (R-Harrisburg), in a news release. “Too many parents have no idea what is being taught until they see their children’s homework,” he said, adding that the bill is in keeping with current practices in other districts.

The bill received stiff opposition from Democrats who accuse Lewis and fellow Republican co-sponsors of spurious motives and bringing “culture wars” into the classroom.

“It’s about bringing the fights that start on Fox News to a kindergarten classroom near you,” said Rep. Dan Frankel (D-Pittsburgh) on the House floor last week. “This legislation is an invitation to the book burners and the anti-maskers to harass our schools and our teachers.”

The bill would require school administrators or other school-appointed designees to post lesson plans prior to the start of each school year, beginning with the 2022-2023 academic year. This would allow parents to share feedback and prepare their children for school. “I’ve heard from many parents who want to be empowered with this information,” said Lewis. 

“If parents really want access to their children’s school books, they already can,” said Frankel, who claims that posting curriculum online invites interference from individuals living outside the district. “[I]f parents aren’t dissatisfied and aren’t protesting, then there’s no reason to invite QAnon supporters from around the country to weigh in [on] our teachers’ choices.”

House Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff (R-Bellefonte) argues that schools are already required to disclose curriculum publicly, telling reporters last Wednesday, “If we’re honest with ourselves, much of that information, whether schools open, whether schools close, whether they have hand sanitizer and whatever else, has also been provided electronically over the last 18 months,” adding that the proposed legislation “ is not really any different.”

The bill now moves to the Senate for consideration.