Academic transparency bill would require teachers to share lesson materials on school websites

Rep. Hugh Blackwell

House Republicans fired another volley in the state’s simmering culture war Wednesday with the approval of a bill that requires school districts and charter schools with more than 400 students to post educational materials used by teachers “prominently” on school websites.

Under House Bill 755, which is also known as the Academic Transparency bill, the burden of listing textbooks and other reading materials as well videos, digital materials and other applications used in classrooms would fall to teachers. It also requires teachers to post lesson plans from the previous year.

Teachers would post educational materials at the end of the school year so parents can review them before the next academic year starts. The information posted would be a list of instructional materials with identifying information, but not include copies of the material.

Bill sponsor, Rep. Hugh Blackwell, a Republican from Burke County, believes HB 755 will 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,” said Blackwell, a former member of the Burke County Board of Education.

Rep. Jeffrey McNeely, an Iredell County Republican, thinks the bill will provide another benefit, which he shared with the House K-12 Education Committee.

“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.

Charges that teachers are indoctrinating students with liberal political views has been a reoccurring theme among Republican politicians since the State Board of Education approved new social standards requiring diverse viewpoints in lessons.

Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson has been vocal in his opposition to the new standards. The state’s first black lieutenant governor has created a task force to end what he calls the political indoctrination of students in classrooms.

Rep. Graig Meyer, an Orange County Democrat, warned that teachers will resist documenting and posting educational materials on school websites.

“You’re going to get a lot of opposition to this bill just based on the workload that it’s going to require,” Meyer said.

The N.C. Department of Public Instruction and school districts already allow educational materials used in schools to be reviewed, Meyer said.

“Now, this is just a whole other level of burden on top.” Meyer said. “I think it’s going to make teachers feel overburdened. This feels like a heavy-handed element of government … Big Brother wants to know what you’re looking at.”

Kelly Mann, a Wake County parent and former educator, spoke in support of the bill, touching on the indoctrination theme in her remarks.

Mann said she is concerned about unlimited online resources teachers share with students. She said the materials often do not align with parents’ values or the adopted state curriculum.

“Everyone benefits from this bill,” Mann argued. “Parents may help prepare their students. This is a great collaborative effort to teachers and educators to find other resources that are effectively being used across the state and posting them and making them available to their colleagues.”

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