See Arizona’s Curriculum Transparency Legislation, Strongest In The Nation

Arizona's curriculum transparency bill is the strongest of its kind giving parents a detailed look into what children are being taught.

By Erika Hanson | Published

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arizona curriculum transparency

A controversial bill just passed the Senate Floor in Arizona that aims to make Arizona’s curriculum transparency agenda one of the strongest in the nation. Approved Monday on a 16-13 party-line margin, SB 1211 looks to make it mandatory that all school districts in the Grand Canyon State implement rigorous school curricula materials available for viewing online for parents to view. As the bill heads to the house where it is prospected to win again, it’s a monumental feat for parents in the state looking to bolster school transparency. 

SB 1211 has a goal to enact specific new requirements in Arizona curriculum transparency. It details what schools and teachers have to make available online to parents. The required documented materials range from textbooks and digital materials to online applications and listings of school assemblies and guest lectures. Likewise, the bill would require districts to make such information available online in advance, including individual teachers learning materials and activities inside classrooms. All that material would be organized, at a minimum, by subject, grade, and teacher in order to make access easy for parents.

arizona curriculum transparency

The Arizona curriculum transparency bill also would give parents the ability to speak out against any curriculum material they do not agree with. The new legislation accounted for measuring enforcement procedures that included a required response from the school principal if a parent makes a complaint within 15 days. If the parent is still not satisfied, the law would give the governing board another 25 days to respond. The bill also outlined how parents could pursue legal action as well.

While all the Democrats on the Senate floor voted against the Arizona curriculum transparency bill, it was met with questions of concern from some of the Republicans who voted in favor of the legislation. As it appears, most opposers to the bill do not necessarily disagree with a need for more transparency. Instead, they question how, and to what means, the new laws would make a lasting difference in schools.

Senator Tyler Pace, a Republican who voted yes on SB 1211, questioned whether or not the Arizona curriculum transparency bill was workable. However, he did vote yes with a hope that the House would enact changes when the measure is considered addressing concerns. Similarly, Senator Michelle Ugenti-Rita also voted in favor of SB1211, but with many reserves. Surprisingly though, Ugenti-Rita questioned the impact of the bill on education as well as saying that it fails to address the deeper problem. “Putting up loads and loads and loads of information isn’t really going to solve the problem that we have in K-12…This will leave parents with the impression that something is done when nothing is done,” she exclaimed. She believes that the bill might just create more unattainable work for already stressed teachers. 

Republicans like state senator Paul Boyer refuted opposers’ claims to the Arizona curriculum transparency bill stating that the extra workload was being over-exaggerated. An educator himself, Boyer plans to return to teaching next year. He said, “As teachers, we’re always submitting lesson plans every single week,” Boyer said. “It’s so simple teachers can just upload to a Google Doc or a Word Doc, just the titles of whatever it is.” 

Christopher Rufo, a conservative activist and senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute has long been an advocate for school reform across the nation. Sharing his eagerness to the passing of the Arizona curriculum transparency legislation, he drew reference in the bill to that of his model transparency policy he designed with James R. Copland and John Ketcham while praising the state’s governor for being the first in the country to fully advocate curriculum transparency. Not quite a law yet, the bill now heads to the House for debate.