Agencies | Governor
Virginia Regulatory Town Hall
Agency
Department of Education
Board
State Board of Education
chapter
Regulations Governing Local School Boards and School Divisions [8 VAC 20 ‑ 720]
Action Amendments Regarding Use of Controversial or Sensitive Instructional Materials
Stage NOIRA
Comment Period Ends 1/15/2014
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1/14/14  3:00 am
Commenter: Justin Toney, teacher

This regulation is un-American, unnecessary, and unsupported.
 
I have taught at Virginia public schools between 2010 and 2013. Currently, I teach overseas, but am planning to return to continue my teaching career this August in my one true home: the Commonwealth of Virginia. I teach for ideological reasons: I believe that a true democracy must consist of a pluralistic society of informed individuals. It worries me greatly, therefor, that my representatives must deign to consider the proprosed regulation.
 
I offer the following reasons for my opposition:
 
 - Many controversies are over issues of fact. You can't curtail the teaching of verifiable evidence (facts) and call yourself an educator; you become at best a passive indoctrinator.
 
 - This will not prevent children from encountering controversy. Controversy is everywhere from the recess playground to the halls of Congress.
 
- This regulation will magnify the very controversies it wishes to diminish. As every counter-claim to a controversial subject (or claim of a subject's controversy) is no longer the sole business of individual Virginians, but the business of the state and/or local government, the public sphere will be rife with controversy.
 
- Nothing and nobody should prevent children from encountering controversy. The free and un-regulated speech of all citizens is a prerequisite for a functioning democracy. While controversy can be frustrating and its existence necessitates compromise, to wish to do without it is to invite a tyranny upon the mind.
 
- Even still, parents have ample opportunity to administer such a tyranny upon their children through state-supported homeschooling. Children also live at home under the care of their guardians who vote on the school board and pay taxes for the schools. Any further limitation on the freedoms of educators seems to me (at the very least) utterly redundant.
 
- The vague phrasing of this regulation allows for the possibility of. . .
  • the oppression of minority expression.
  • the rule of an outspoken minority over the public conscience in public schools.
  • a limitless and unchecked fight over censorship. 
  • additional untold burdens on the educational system for no additional cost or clarification.
  • the (theoretical) removal of great swathes of curriculum without a means to replace or defend it.
  • the repression of truth. Because what if somebody doesn't agree with your version of the truth?
- It's un-American in principle. When the government defends the inclination of people to indiscriminately violate the right to free speech for another American, it is a corruption of the very principles this nation was built to stand for.
 
- I am personally opposed to any person or creed that equates silencing their opponents to a validation of their truth. It is solutionism at its worst. 
 
 - Controversy cuts both ways. It seems clear to me from the comments in support of this regulation that a conservative politico-religious faction is the primary support of in this increase of government interference in the education of the young. These constituents have shortsightedly supported a means to remove from public schools such "controversial" expressions as "one nation under God,"  "Intelligent Design," abstinence-only sexual education, and prayer in schools. 
 
 - There is no double jeopardy limitation on how often a review of a subject may take place, nor is there a framework to revisit past decisions that may no longer be suited to changing facts and demography. 
 
- This will inundate our already busy court system with civil lawsuits as people beseech the courts to resolve their differences for them.
 
 - And ultimately, it will humiliate Virginians (again!) for our unconstitutional attempts to muzzle the expression of our own citizenry.
 
Please, do not support this or anything like this.
CommentID: 30338