According to our own Pam Benigno, an elementary school in Jefferson County has been quietly working to install a controversial curriculum while it and the district continue to provide parents with misleading information concerning opt-out opportunities.
Assembled by AMAZEworks, the curriculum in question addresses a broad range of issues that relate to various spheres of social and emotional life, with a special focus being placed on “anti-bias education.” It goes without saying that one should applaud the school’s overall motives which are ostensibly to build a community that respects individual differences and is generally welcoming of others regardless of who they are.
There comes a point, however, where the tactics being used to achieve these aims, which are on their face admirable, begin to do more harm than good. The AMAZEworks program touches on a number of topics that are at the heart of heated national debates, as well as others that are far more innocuous but nonetheless cannot be disentangled from the belief and value systems of individual families. For this reason, some parents have been expressing their opposition to- and concern about the curriculum, and in responding to them the school and the district have seemingly been acting in ignorance of their own policies.
There are certainly topics where we should assent more easily to the opinions of education and curriculum experts, but the topics that these parents are expressing their apprehensions about are not spelling or multiplication, but rather divorce, death, or “gay/lesbian/transgender family members.” Moreover, an elementary school parent may be understandably worried that in introducing politically fraught topics such as incarceration, immigration, or even deployment, the school might be striving to bring their child up as an ideal citizen according to its own ideological framework.
It seems that in implementing the curriculum the school and the district have been acting largely by fiat and disregarding the opinions and ignoring the rights of a subset of their community. We hope that in carrying out its mandated obligation to oversee curriculum construction, school boards (including Jefferson County’s) will be mindful of their own policies and listen to all the voices in their communities, not just those who are the loudest or most numerous, especially as initiatives to “support the teaching and development” of curricula pertaining to hot-button social issues are brought before them.