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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1/8/14  12:43 pm
Commenter: Karen Swortzel, Alleghany High School

Increasing disparity among students

As a 24 year veteran teacher in the Commonwealth, with three additional years of teaching in a college education department, I have seen many changes in the educational system.   Many changes have been initiated by parents who were concerned about the education of their child.  As a parent and as a teacher, I appreciate parent involvement.   Parents should have a say in their child's education; however, that is a local issue.  

It is my understanding that this amendment will require local school boards to have a policy on the use of  "controversial" and "sensitive" materials in the classroom.  As stated in the NOIRA Agency Background Dosument, many local school boards already have a policy in place.  It would seem to make sense that all localities should have such a regulations.  But, therein lies the problem.  Some districts don't feel the need for the policy.  Some parents welcome diversity and thought provoking texts for their children, regardless of their personal beliefs.

Requiring such a policy  of every district could open the curriculum to censorship with each school board election.  The terms "controversial" and "sensitive" are vague, yet loaded words.  Who is to decide what is "controversial" or "sensitive"?   Ears perk up when these two words are mentioned; there must be something wrong!

There is already great disparity among students' exposure to curricular materials based on where they live within the Commonwealth.  It's is not something we like to admit, but it is a truth, nonetheless. To amend the current regulation, may unwittingly increase the disparity. 

I cannot support the amendment as it is written.

CommentID: 29893