Virginia Regulatory Town Hall
Department of Education
State Board of Education
Regulations Governing Local School Boards and School Divisions [8 VAC 20 ‑ 720]
Action Amendments Regarding Use of Controversial or Sensitive Instructional Materials
Comment Period Ended on 1/15/2014
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1/14/14  11:38 am
Commenter: E. Basnight-Johnson, Henrico County Public Schools

NO to vague language

As an educator, I am very concerned with the language of the proposed addition--

… a copy of the syllabus for each of their child's courses, including a notice to parents about any sensitive or sexually explicit materials that may be included in the course, the textbook, or any supplemental instructional materials…


First of all, the term “sensitive” is subjective—what may be of concern to one group is not the case with another.  Such subjectivity in the proposed change could compromise the professional judgment of classroom teachers as to whether the instructional materials that they choose to teach with are “appropriate.”  Also, “materials” means anything read or viewed in any class needs to be put in the syllabus at the beginning of the year with justification and notes about sensitive or sexually explicit content (which, again, is subjective and changes from one end of our county to the other).  This takes away from teachers having the ability to change curriculums and lessons to meet the needs of students, as they will now be bound to a document drafted before they have even met their students and parents for the year.  Additionally, with the emphasis on 21st century learning and online resources, this puts our teachers in a bind, as much online content changes daily; thus, there is no way to include a notice about what is found on a site at the beginning of the year when it is likely to change by the middle of the year.  


The language of the proposal will affect more than just English classes and summer readings, which is where the issue sprung.  No one person can possibly define sensitive and controversial for every citizen being serviced, which is why choice is given on summer readings and class assignments. I urge you to reconsider this change.

CommentID: 30420