How to Fix Politics in the Classroom? Sunlight

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In too many of our nation’s classrooms, children are being taught that everything should be seen through the lens of race—a divisive and damaging worldview that negates the value of the individual. Instead of reading our country’s founding documents, students are being told that America was founded on fundamentally hateful and intolerant ideas. And they’re learning that the American Dream isn’t really for everyone. What is a parent to do?

In a new paper released today by the American Enterprise Institute, Goldwater Institute Director of Education Policy Matt Beienburg shows that in order to truly put parents—and not bureaucrats—in control of kids’ education, more sunlight is the answer. And Goldwater is leading the effort to bring that sunlight to school districts across America, in the form of academic transparency.

To date, state lawmakers have dealt with the issue of politically charged classroom content by either doing nothing or banning certain curricula or materials. But neither path is sufficient to proactively root out political content in our schools. And neither path gives parents the power they need to make the best possible decisions regarding their children’s education.

There is, however, another way, Beienburg writes: “empowering parents to hold schools accountable for the content used in their classrooms,” known as academic transparency. To make this possible, the Goldwater Institute has developed the Academic Transparency Act, which would require each public school in a state to disclose a listing of the actual instructional materials used during the past academic year on a publicly accessible part of its website. “With academic transparency in place, Beienburg explains, “prospective parents would suddenly be able to see which nearby schools insist on pushing a political agenda—and parents could make their enrollment decisions accordingly.”

Fortunately, state lawmakers are acting to make sure this commonsense approach becomes law. Several states are taking up the Goldwater Institute’s bill to ensure that, as Beienburg writes, “political ideology is never again advanced under the cover of dark.”

You can read Beienburg’s new paper, Academic Transparency to Protect Students from Radical Politics in K-12 Education, here.

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This article was published July 6, 2021 and is reproduced with permission from the In Defense of Liberty blog at the Goldwater Institute.

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