PHOENIX - A bill proposed to the Arizona State Legislature would require schools across the state to post all learning materials and classroom activities online.
Supporters say it gives transparency for parents, while opponents say it will stifle creativity, and create a burden for teachers who are already stretched thin.
Here's what you should know about SB1211.
What is the bill proposing, exactly?
SB1211 will add to Section 15-113 of the Arizona Revised Statute, which relates to the rights of parents in matters of education.
As it currently stands, Section 15-113 of the Arizona Revised Statute allows, among other things, the parent of a student in a public education institution to review learning materials and activities in advance.
"A parent who objects to any learning material or activity on the basis that the material or activity is harmful may request to withdraw that parent's student from the activity or from the class or program in which the material is used and request an alternative assignment," read a portion of the law.
SB1211 will, among other things, require public or charter schools to prominently disclose, on a publicly accessible portion of the website, learning materials and activities used for student instruction at the school, including:
- Textbooks, articles and other required reading materials.
- Videos and audio recordings.
- Digital materials.
- Online applications for a phone, laptop or tablet.
- Instructional handouts and worksheets.
- Grade level or schoolwide assemblies.
- Guest lectures.
- Action-oriented civics learning assignments or projects, including the contacting of elected officials, advocating for or commenting on a political or social issue or participating in political or social demonstrations.
- Service-learning, internships or other forms of collaboration with outside organizations after regular school hours for course credit or as a class project or assignment.
- Other educational events facilitated by the school's staff, including those conducted by outside individuals or organizations.
The bill will also require the information to be posted at least seven days before the start of each school year, if available, or, at the latest, three days before the first use of the material. The listing will remain on the website until the end of the following school year.
The bill has advanced out of a committee on a five-to-three vote.
Why do supporters think the bill is necessary?
In the past year, school boards have turned into battlegrounds in some parts of the country, with highly sensitive topics like Critical Race Theory and sex education becoming the bullet points of the battlefront.
As school boards face increasing pressure, State Sen. Nancy Barto, who is listed as the bill's sponsor, said her would address the concerns of parents wanting to know exactly what’s going on in classrooms
"So many parents are so frustrated at not having access to what their children are learning in schools," said State Sen. Barto.
State Sen. Barto, a Republican, represents the state's 15th legislative district, which covers a portion of north Phoenix.
Nicole Solas, who gained national attention for a highly publicized battle with her kids’ Rhode Island school, said she has filed a large number of public records requests to try and get info. She said that problem would be solved by the Arizona bill.
"This is a Kafka-Esque bureaucratic problem with a really easy legislative solution: academic transparency," said Solas.
What are teachers saying?
For teachers, some see it as another burden on a stressed profession, eliminating some of the creativity that helps in classrooms.
"So, the creativity that educators can bring sometimes happen because a student raises a question. When the attorneys talk to the superintendents, talk to the principals, the assistant principals, talk to the teachers, they’re not going to take chances. They’re not going to take chances," said Arizona Education Association President Joe Thomas.
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