Should teachers in Texas be required to post course information for review?

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Educators are concerned about a “heavy” bill that would force teachers to share information about their lessons online – and are watching to see where it goes during this unpredictable special session.

Republican lawmakers want educators to disclose information about their course materials and activities online, raising concerns about the added administrative burden and the purpose of such a requirement.

“It’s heavy. What problem is this legislation trying to solve? said Renee Blackmon, president of the Texas Council for the Social Studies. “Who’s that bogeyman who’s showing up in all these classrooms?” “

Ultimately, the legislation might not gain traction as Texas Democrats left the state on Monday to derail the special session to protest a Republican-backed election bill. But some fear this is a sign of continued overtaking in classrooms.

Conservative pundits and politicians across the country have spread panic over the way race and racism is taught in public schools in recent months. Some groups and members of the local school board are trying to arm parents with specific words to watch out for in their children’s homework – including words like “fairness” and “story” – as part of their efforts to oppose to the “critical theory of race”.

Senator Bob Hall, R-Edgewood, introduced legislation that would require teachers to disclose information used in their lessons, which would then be uploaded to a district website. Hall’s office did not respond to a request for comment. A hearing is not yet scheduled. A bill with similar provisions was introduced in the House by Rep. Steve Toth, R-The Woodlands.

“If you’re going to teach something, just let the parents know,” Toth told the Texas Tribune.

And although the bill is now evolving, some education advocates say it has raised several questions about application and intent.

The bill would require school districts each month to post a list on their websites that “sets out all the information, including title, author, organization or website, as the case may be, necessary to identify any educational material or activity that was distributed or otherwise presented to students in the district during the previous month.

Texas, home to more than 1,000 school districts, has more than 375,000 teachers. The national education agency does not comment on current legislation.

“It’s a huge administrative burden on school districts,” said Dax Gonzalez, of the Texas Association of School Boards. “This is something that would take many hours of work on the part of teachers, campus administrators and district administrators to put all of this information together and keep it up to date on the website. “

Much of what is taught in classrooms can already be made available to parents, either by asking the teacher or by submitting an open case request, he said. For many older students, homework is uploaded to online portals. Meanwhile, Essential Texas Knowledge and Skills – which outlines the standards students are tested against – are also live.

Gov. Greg Abbott signed a new law outlining a broad list of topics and ideas teachers should – and shouldn’t – bring up in schools in an attempt to curb critical race theory. Abbott wanted lawmakers to go further to “abolish” the theory during the special session.

Critical Race Theory is an academic framework that explores how racism is embedded in American policies and systems. It has been confused with a host of other concepts, such as diversity and inclusion efforts, anti-racism training, and multicultural programs.

Educators in Texas and the country have repeatedly pointed out that critical race theory is not taught in public schools from Kindergarten to Grade 12. However, many teachers fear that the highly politicized debate will chill their efforts to have honest discussions in class on difficult topics.

Under the new Texas law, teachers cannot be “compelled to discuss a particular current event or widely debated and currently controversial public policy or social affairs issue.” If schools discuss these issues, they cannot show “deference to any prospect.”

In social studies classes, teachers cannot teach a variety of ideas, including that a person is inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously. School districts are also prohibited from requiring training that exhibits any form of racial or gender stereotyping or blame on the basis of race or gender.

The law also prohibits teaching that “slavery and racism are anything other than deviations, betrayals, or breaches of the genuine founding principles of the United States.” Several of the founding fathers owned slaves.

Some conservative groups recently urged parents to research the program’s buzzwords to eliminate “critical race theory” from the classroom and submit floods of open case requests.

The DMN Education Lab deepens coverage and conversation on pressing education issues critical to the future of North Texas.

The DMN Education Lab is a community-funded journalism initiative, with support from The Beck Group, Bobby and Lottye Lyle, Communities Foundation of Texas, The Dallas Foundation, Dallas Regional Chamber, Deedie Rose, The Meadows Foundation, Solutions Journalism Network , Southern Methodist University and Todd A. Williams Family Foundation. The Dallas Morning News retains full editorial control of Education Lab journalism.


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