I had meant to post this earlier, but preparing for finals and other events put it off.
The New Hampshire state legislator recently overrode the veto of their wise governor to pass what I describe as the worst education law in America.
Parents in New Hampshire now have the right to file formal objections to any aspect of their child’s curriculum. This could be an objection to a book being used, the technique being used, the very topic being covered. The school must respond by allowing for that asect of the curriculum to be rewritten on the spot for that particular child. Any parent requesting this would have their name suppressed, so that retribution against their child or themselves wouldn’t be possible. The only catch: the parent would have to pay for the curriculum to be rewritten (note: this is generally not a cheap)
By the way, this insane bit of legislation is in fact more sane than what was originally written, since New Hampshire almost became the first state in the union to remove the requirement that their kids actually receive an education. The author cited “college students are often not required to attend class” … note: 3rd graders and college students are not the same. They aren’t even close. Congratulations New Hampshire, you avoided stepping back into the nineteenth century!
On the surface, it could be argued that this is a law that looks worse than it is: how many parents are going to spend thousands of dollars to rewrite the curriculum? The answer is: very few … but then again, as noted in this article, this law was not really passed because some hockey mom objects to her kids learning how to use the quadratic equation.
Certainly, English classes will be objected to in terms of their selection of books. Parents needn’t make fools of themselves any longer by objecting to their school teaching Huckleberry Finn because a white boy befriends an African-American boy, or The Canterbury Tales, because one character kisses another’s buttocks. They can do this anonymously, and if they are rich enough, they cna have their way.
History classes will be in real trouble: teach a little too much about the loss in Vietnam or FDR’s New Deal or the Civil Rights Movement, and not enough about Ronald Reagan or the successes of Richard Nixon … there could be a challenge.
However, none of these areas have active war chests of money opposed to them. It would generally take a rich parent or several parents pooling money to launch a successful attack.
Biology, however, is a different topic.
Any one parent objecting to the inclusion of evolution or sex ed can file an objection. There are several far right wing organizations who would be thrilled to pony up money to remove either or both of those topics from the curriculum. Heck, with Texas now controlling the textbook market, more and more biology textbooks are being written to de-emphasize these topics.
On the other hand: if a parent or parents decide they don’t want their kid exposed to this, let those parents deny their kids; it won’t effect the others. That is not the truth. If a teacher (or more likely a group of teachers) is pulled in to rewrite a curriculum at the last minute, you can be sure that this is pulling teachers away from the other students. The teachers will not be as focused on their classes.
Of course, if the teachers are harassed enough, they simply will adopt the new curriculum for the whole class. This, I suspect, is what the authors of the bill want: this is how they get to mandate the curriculum without seeming like they are the ones actually interfering. Now it is the teacher who is forced to be the bad guy by adopting the new curriculum for the class … given that groups who don’t want to see these topics removed don’t have the money to challenge it.
Congratulations New Hampshire! You now have the worst education law in the country.