Utah School Curriculum Transparency Bill Paused Amid ‘Coordinated Misinformation Campaign’

By Bill Pan
Bill Pan
Bill Pan
Reporter
Bill Pan is a reporter for The Epoch Times.
January 31, 2022 Updated: January 31, 2022

A Utah lawmaker has put on hold a proposed bill that would require public schools in his state to post all learning materials online for parents to review, saying that his legislative effort was targeted by a “coordinated misinformation campaign.”

The bill in question, HB 234, would require that all learning materials and syllabi for each day of instruction be posted online. It requires public school teachers to make available online all curricula, class syllabi, and associated learning materials they plan to use for instruction. It would also open a pathway for parents to take legal actions against districts that fail to keep them updated with what is being taught to their children.

The proposal was immediately met with fierce opposition from the education community. Utah Education Association (UEA), the largest teachers union in the state, started an online petition against HB234, arguing that the measure would add an unnecessary burden to teachers already struggling with stress over the past two school years.

“This bill is insulting, burdensome, and will not succeed in increasing transparency, but will certainly succeed in driving people from our profession,” UEA President Heidi Matthews said. As of Jan. 28, the petition has garnered some 30,000 supporting signatures.

The bill’s sponsor, Republican state Rep. Jordan Teuscher, said he no longer seeks to pass the bill in this legislative session, but will keep working to make changes to it to clarify what it does and does not do.

“Unfortunately, because of the coordinated misinformation campaign that has been levied against the bill, rather than engage in substantive policy discussions to get to a consensus solution on this topic. I’ve been forced to spend my time putting out fires and dispelling untruths,” he wrote in a statement explaining the decision to put HB234 on hold.

Teuscher added that he hoped the transparency-focused bill would help “alleviate feelings of mistrust” between parents and teachers.

“Anger, hostility, and accusations around curriculum issues continue to escalate, despite teachers’ best efforts to dispel parents’ concerns,” he wrote. “Without a clear plan for transparency and as parents feel that they have no control over what is being taught to their kids, distrust will continue to damage relations between parents and teachers.”

HB234 is one of two proposed curriculum transparency bills this session. The other, SB 114 by Republican Sen. Lincoln Fillmore, has passed in committee and will advance to the full Senate.

Under SB 114, a public school district would be required to add parents into its process of selecting and adopting a district-wide curriculum. The proposed curriculum would be posted online for the public to review and then the school board would conduct a public hearing before voting on whether to adopt it.

Bill Pan
Reporter
Bill Pan is a reporter for The Epoch Times.