Pennsylvania legislature approves school curriculum transparency measure, sends to Wolf

Law requires schools to post information about school curriculum online for public review, tasks administrators with maintaining the information.

Updated: December 18, 2021 - 12:07am

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

Legislation approved by the General Assembly aims to give Pennsylvania parents a better look at what their kids are learning in school.

The Pennsylvania House gave final approval to House Bill 1332 after amendments and passage in the Senate earlier this week. It was presented Thursday to Gov. Tom Wolf.

The legislation would require Pennsylvania schools to post information about school curriculum online for public review, and it specifically tasks administrators with maintaining the information.

“Beginning with the 2022-23 school year and each school year thereafter, a school entity shall post an internet link or title for every textbook used by the school entity, a course syllabus or a written summary of each instructional course and the state academic standards for each instructional course offered by the school entity on its publicly accessible internet website,” the bill reads.

The bill states the district superintendent, administrative director or CEO must update the information within 30 days of any revisions. The bill would apply to “a school district, intermediate unit, area career and technical school, charter school, cyber charter school or regional charter school.”

Rep. Andrew Lewis, R-Dauphin, said he introduced the bill at the behest of parents who were surprised by what their children were learning in school, and he’s urging Wolf to sign it into law.

“This curriculum transparency legislation would give parents easy access to research what their children will be taught in school,” Lewis said. “They should be able to get online morning or night to have access to the curriculum plan, including textbooks, and that plan should be updated online each time it is revised.”

Lewis said the bill is intentionally designed to ensure teachers aren’t burdened with updating the information.

The bill comes amid backlash from parents in many schools across the country over issues such as critical race theory, graphic sexual books, sex education curriculum and other issues.

Rep. Joshua Kail, R-Beaver, said he believes the bill ultimately will improve schools through feedback from parents.

“Parents should never be left in the dark when it comes to their child’s education,” he said. “Transparency between parents and school districts will create an environment that best suits our students.”

Rep. Mark Longietti, D-Mercer, described the bill as a “solution in search of a problem” during the concurrence vote Wednesday in the House.

“In my 15 years, I’ve never had constituents come to me and say they’ve had difficulty in obtaining curriculum from a school district, because we have process in place for that currently,” Longietti said. “The concern here is this is yet another unfunded mandate.

“This is going to take significant time from our school districts to administer this function when the timing for that is not good,” Longietti said. “We’re in the middle of a pandemic. Their plate is more than full.”

HB 1332 passed the House in October on a vote of 110-89, and the Senate approved with amendments, 28-21, on Monday. The House voted 112-88 to concur Wednesday.