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House Republicans revive ‘academic transparency’ legislation in budget proposal


House Republicans revive ‘academic transparency’ legislation in budget proposal

Mar 30, 2023 | 5:46 pm ET
By Greg Childress
House Republicans revive ‘academic transparency’ legislation in budget proposal
Toni Morrison's "The Bluest Eye" was among more than two dozen books removed last month from a school library at Goddard, Kansas, following a challenge by a parent. The books have since been returned to the shelves. Max McCoy/Kansas Reflector

The North Carolina House budget proposal calls for a 10% pay increase for teachers over the next two years, but would have to work harder for the extra money under a substantive provision that would require “Academic Transparency.”

The House budget bill would require teachers to prominently post, course materials, lessons plans and supplemental materials on school websites.

“The governing body of a public school unit [school board] shall ensure that the following information for each school it governs is prominently displayed on the school website, organized, at a minimum, by subject area and grade level,” the budget provision says.

The academic transparency provision in House Bill 259 is mostly the language from House Bill 755 that was filed and backed by Republicans in 2021.

Course materials include all instructional materials, supplemental materials, videos, digital materials, websites and other online applications.

A teacher’s lesson plan from the previous year would have to be made available on a school’s website by June 30 of each year.

In 2021, Rep. Hugh Blackwell, a Republican from Burke County, who sponsored HB 755, said it would improve academic outcomes for students by involving parents in their children’s education.

“I think it may be pretty well established over many years that where parents are actually active and engaged in their children’s education, that their children have better outcomes,” Blackwell said.

Rep. Jeffrey McNeely, an Iredell County Republican, said HB 755 would allow parents to review teachers lesson plans before the start of the school year.

“To me, this will help the parents going to the next grade be able to look and see what that teacher taught the year before, and hopefully we’re just going teach the kids and we’re not going to try to indoctrinate them and teach them in a certain way to make them believe something other than the facts, the knowledge and the ability to write and the ability to read,” McNeely said.

The budget bill also requires school boards to establish a “community media advisory committee” to investigate and evaluate challenges from parents, teachers and members of the public who deem certain instructional material and supplemental materials unfit. The State Board of Education would be required to establish a “State Community Advisory Committee to review challenges to instructional and supplemental materials on appeal.

“The State Committee’s determination shall be limited to considerations of whether the material is unfit on the specific grounds of the material being (i) obscene, (ii) inappropriate to the age, maturity, or grade level of the students, or (iii) not aligned with the  standard course of study,” the provision says.