|Action||Amendments Regarding Use of Controversial or Sensitive Instructional Materials|
|Comment Period||Ends 1/15/2014|
The intent of this proposal is not a call for censorship or an attempt to ban books.
It is a step toward full disclosure. This change is an attempt to require that material which could be deemed too intense or sensitive for minors be better identified to both students and parents. While there is guidance currently in place, implementation has been found to be inconsistent in the Commonwealth. Simply providing a long list of possible books that “may” be read or a vague reference to curriculum side steps the intent of the regulations and does not provide appropriate transparency for families. Trusting the current system has proven unsettling and disappointing. Better identification similar to what is currently done for FLE (Family Life Education) materials, school movie policies or what is found on the back of movie or video game jackets would restore parental rights to approve and actively engage the student in the material being covered or allow them to request an alternative assignment. A consistent classroom “opt out” policy should also be established.
Students stand to loose the most. Parents are the best judges of what is best for their individual child; given that it is nearly impossible for teachers to know and understand every student’s personal background that intimately. For the good of the child, there needs to be collaboration. (Teachers are not trained as counselors and may not be aware of abuses or special circumstances in the home.)
As professionals, this regulation should not require undo burden on teachers because they should already be aware of the material they are teaching. I speculate that the wording in the proposed change is intentionally vague to allow individual localities the autonomy to determine what is considered “sensitive” to the families they serve. Properly utilizing input from local parents serving on state mandated Curriculum Review Committees should serve as an excellent measure for what material might alert concern or require consent.
It is very difficult for parents to be solely responsible to independently investigate the reading and curriculum material for each one of their children and impossible for a single parent, parent with special circumstances or non-English speakers to evaluate assigned books. It is likewise, difficult for students who strive to fit in and do not wish to go against their teachers when presented with uncomfortable material.
I strongly support the proposed amendment!