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Who Gets to Choose the Curriculum?

Recently, the Florida legislature passed a bill that the governor signed into a law–a law that allows all Florida residents to challenge texts used in classrooms. The new law

“Authorizes a parent or a county resident to object to the use of a specific instructional material and requires the process provide the parent or resident the opportunity to proffer evidence to the district school board that such material does not meet the state criteria or contains prohibited content, or is otherwise inappropriate or unsuitable for the grade level and age group for which the material is used.”

Furthermore, all legitimate citizens’ challenges must be aired in

“at least one open public hearing [which] must be conducted before an unbiased and qualified hearing officer who is not an employee or agent of the school district.”

According to an NPR report the Florida Citizens’ Alliance played a large role in the passage of the legislation. The group has spent time pouring through textbooks and reading materials and asserting their opinions on how those texts aren’t suitable for Florida’s students.

Flaugh a founder of the Florida Citizens’ Alliance, noted,

“We found them [the texts] to be full of political indoctrination, religious indoctrination, revisionist history and distorting our founding values and principles, even a significant quantity of pornography.”

“The pornography…was in literature and novels such as Angela’s Ashes, A Clockwork Orange and books by author Toni Morrison, which were in school libraries or on summer reading lists.”

Called “anti-science” by some because they allow science texts and theories to be challenged, discounted, and removed from the curriculum, this Florida law and would-be laws in several other states (Virginia, Alabama, Oklahoma, and South Dakota) threaten curricula developed by professional educators and experts and would replace such curricula with the personal beliefs and preferences of individuals. NCTE has written and signed on letters of protest to all these.

But the question remains, “Who gets to choose the curriculum and what happens to the students’ right to know?”