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GOP lawmakers want school materials listed online

Posted May 4, 2021 6:00 p.m. EDT
Updated May 4, 2021 6:32 p.m. EDT

— A bill that passed the House Education committee Tuesday afternoon would require schools to post online a comprehensive list of all teaching, classroom and assignment materials used by every teacher in every class session.

Rep. Hugh Blackwell, R-Burke, is the sponsor of House Bill 755, titled "Academic Transparency." He said the lists would have to be completed by the end of the school year, not in advance, and schools would be required to list titles and authors or other identifying information, not the entire document or resource itself.

"I think it may be pretty well established over many years that, where parents are actually active and engaged in their children's education, that their children have better outcomes," Blackwell told the committee. "We've made a real effort here on our part to try to make this as simple as possible, while still providing the transparency so that parents can be aware of what is being offered to their students."

The school would also have to post the procedure for parents or guardians to follow if they want to come in to review the materials in person, Blackwell said.

Rep. Jeff McNeely, R-Iredell, voiced support for the bill, saying he was surprised that his son had an English class on the topic of environmental pollution.

"Hopefully, we're just going to teach the kids," McNeely said. "We're not going to try to indoctrinate them or teach them in a certain way to make them believe something other than the facts, the knowledge, the ability to write, the ability to read."

Rep. Graig Meyer, D-Orange, a former teacher, predicted strong opposition from teachers because of the increase in their workload.

"We already have public disclosure of all textbooks, software, workbooks, maps, et cetera, that come through the state Department of Public Instruction, and every local school district – I think it's required by law – has a system to allow for review of the materials that they purchase," Meyer said. "So, now this is just a whole other level of burden on top that. I think is going to make teachers feel overburdened."

"This feels like a heavy-handed element of government," he added. "Big Brother wants to know, what are you looking at?"

Rep. David Willis, R-Union, said his preschool sends out a "monthly snapshot" to parents.

"They should have the ability and the foresight to know what's being taught, what materials are being used, so that then they can help their children with that process as well, because that learning does not end when the school bell rings at the end of the day," Willis said.

Blackwell said it could be a simple as a Google Document or an online form for teachers to fill out.

"I think it can be a very simple process. But it's new. We haven't done it before. The more information you give out, the more likely you are to get a question about it. And for some people, that's a concern," he said.

The bill is expected on the House floor Wednesday.

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