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Testimony in support of SB 114 1st Substitute – Public School Curriculum Requirements

January 28, 2022

Statement presented before the Senate Education Committee of the Utah Legislature by Stan Rasmussen, Sutherland Institute vice president of government affairs, on Jan. 27, 2022.

Thank you, Mr. Chair, and good afternoon, Senators. Stan Rasmussen with Sutherland Institute.

Again, we appreciate the efforts of Senator [Lincoln] Fillmore and this committee to address the important matter of curriculum transparency. As shared during the interim and in the recent article by my Sutherland colleague Derek Monson – the link to which I sent to you in an email this morning – we see improved curriculum transparency as building up the parent-teacher partnership that is vital to student success as this partnership is where the desires and interests of two institutions meet: the family and public education. Both institutions should be respected, and both have responsibilities under public policy that should be upheld and reinforced.

As educators have a responsibility to be open and transparent in what they are teaching children, and parents have a responsibility to be informed about and engaged in what their children are learning in school, we recommend the consideration of three criteria as you assess whether proposed curriculum transparency legislation strengthens or weakens this partnership:

  • Commonsense solutions,
  • Empowering parents, and
  • Respecting teachers

Rather than discuss these three in more detail here, I would again refer you to the article emailed to you earlier today.

Sound curriculum transparency legislation will further unify parents and teachers in their respective desires and commitments to improve the learning experience and outcomes of students.

Strengthening the unity necessary in the parent-teacher partnership may require an incremental approach to policy reform and will best be accomplished by evaluating proposals through the lens of the parent-teacher partnership as both engaged parents and committed educators are required for a student optimally to learn.

Viewing what Sen. Fillmore proposes in SB 114 1st Substitute through this lens, we think

  1. it is common sense to ask districts to have a process for recommending curriculum and to include the parent voice in that process,
  2. it is common sense to ask districts to establish a process for educators to follow when they want to exercise the right to use materials outside the recommended curriculum,
  3. it empowers parents to include them in district curriculum decisions, and
  4. it respects teachers to ask them to follow a supplemental materials policy created by the district that employs them, which also gives them a voice in what that policy will be.

For these reasons, we see SB 114 1st Substitute meeting the criteria we have presented. As such we encourage you to support this bill.

Thank you.

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