Anyone who has spent much time around the General Assembly is familiar with Alan Hoyle, even if they might not know the name. Hoyle is a Lincolnton, NC street preacher. But around Raleigh, he’s most notable for circling the General Assembly in his red truck adorned with anti-gay messaging, Bible verses, and graphic images of aborted fetuses. He’s a religious extremist and bigot. Yet a special provision tucked away in the House budget would give Alan Hoyle the authority to dictate what our schools are teaching.
Section 7.22 of the House Budget proposal is titled “Modernize Selection of Instructional Materials,” but if this provision were to become law it would return us to the stone age.
Under current law, the state is responsible for identifying textbooks that align with North Carolina’s Standard Course of Study. The state then uses its substantial purchasing power to negotiate best-in-the-nation pricing, ensuring that no schools anywhere in the country receive books for a lower price than North Carolina. Local school boards have the authority to purchase books via the state contract, purchase other instructional materials, and hear complaints from parents, teachers, and members of the community.
The House is proposing to upend this system. The efficient, statewide program for reviewing, selecting, and purchasing textbooks would be replaced with 115 district-level efforts for reviewing, selecting, and purchasing. Of course, these are the same districts whose funding has been slashed nearly 40 percent over the past decade. Many districts lack the time and expertise to carry out such detailed evaluations. The House proposal would not provide any additional funding for taking on this new responsibility.
The unfunded local burden would be greater when it comes to sex ed, or “health and safety programs.” When selecting instructional materials for these classes, local boards would be forced to conduct public hearings. They would also be required to maintain a centrally-located physical repository of all instructional materials that have been adopted or – in the case of sex ed – are even up for consideration to be adopted. District personnel would have to allow any member of the public to visit the repository to review these materials in person upon their request.
Of course, unfunded mandates that dissolve responsibilities onto local governments are simply par for the course under this General Assembly.
The real issue is how this law would allow Alan Hoyle and other fringe zealots to effectively veto any instructional materials that fail to align with their unique world view. Read more