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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12/16/13  3:42 pm
Commenter: Mary Doss, HCPS

Undue Burden

This regulation imposes an undue burden on teachers.  Not only are we supposed to read parents' minds on what may or may not be controversial, we are also supposed to have planned out any scrap of material that we may or may not use throughout the course of the year.  Then, if a parent objects, we will then have to plan and grade another activity for that student that still meets and covers the standards from the original activity.  

Teachers already work to keep in contact with parents.  In fact, HCPS has an entire website devoted to keeping parents involved in what is going on at school.  Teachers update HCPS Link to keep parents in regards to what is going on in the classroom.  

I feel this is a case where the DOE is bringing in a tank to destroy a "problem" that could be solved with a water pistol.  The regulation itself states that there are already policies to deal with controversial topics in some places.  Why not simply require those without a policy to create one instead of forcing the entire state to use an unfair policy?  

Teachers are qualified to teach.  We have training in our content as well as educational training that covers topics such as educational psychology.  Teachers are aware of what is and is not appropriate for their students' grade level.  Furthermore, if a controversial topic is introduced, the desired outcome is usually to help students develop the skill set they need to approach, evaluate, and judge ANY topic.  Controversial topics are ideal for developing this skill set because it forces the students to not only identify author bias but they must also identify personal bias.  I am sure everyone realizes (especially in this age of information) how important it is for students to be able to identify objective information and to identify bias when present.  Sifting through a glut of information efficiently is a necessary skill for the future.  

Maintaining student interest is a challenge for all teachers and one of the best ways to do that is to use material in which the students have an interest.  Students are often interested in what's happening NOW and a teacher who has had to plan out and get approval for every word he or she will use, will miss the opportunity to use text regarding current events.  

Again, the target of this regulation is too broad.  If there have really be a number of serious complaints and those complaints have been justified, why not censure or reprimand those bad actors instead of punishing and limiting every teacher in the state of Virginia?

If the ability to make decisions and create continues to be stripped from teachers, you will lose the good teachers.  They will either teach elsewhere or leave the profession entirely.  

CommentID: 29630