PUBLIC FORUM: Legislative micromanaging is bad news for education

Linda D. Garrow

The Daily News Staff

Dear Editor, 

I write to make people aware of HB 5722 just introduced in the state House. It is an absurd attempt to constrain public education under the guise of transparency.

One of the proposed mandates would require the posting of all “textbooks, literature, writing assignments and field trips that are part of the curriculum” before a school year even begins. This is impossible.

Teaching is an art. It requires informed decisions on content and evaluation of lessons learned. While textbooks, curriculum and state standards guide teachers, many instructional activities are individually prescribed based on student need and progress. Kids are not widgets on a factory assembly line and teachers are not content-spewing robots. There is no way that any teacher could name every book that might be shared with students — many options are by student choice, many are spontaneously selected based on conversation and context within the classroom, others are fresh options. The same is true of writing assignments. What is appropriate for one might not be for another.

That said, the most disturbing aspect of this legislation is the implication that educators have hidden agendas and cannot be trusted. It suggests that parents need to know every detail of classroom engagement and that there is one rigid instructional pathway. The reality is that teachers make hundreds of decisions in a day, regardless of their overall lesson plans. Those decisions meet individual needs, individual interests, individual abilities, individual mindsets, individual moods and experiences, as well as the events of the day. 

Be respectful of those who teach. Support their flexibility and appreciate their creativity, applaud educational innovation by teachers trying to be relevant and challenging. Acknowledge how COVID has created havoc in the classroom and how lesson design has been impacted with absences, online and in person classes, substitute adults and the stress of constant unknowing.

Rigidity is not an educational goal, learning is not linear, public education is not indoctrination. We need to be supportive of those working in our schools, appreciating their professional finesse in providing a range of experiences for students. When any adult will do, when instruction is formulaic, learning and achievement suffer.

Legislators, do no harm. End this legislative micromanaging. 

Jan Wheelock

Greenville

PUBLIC FORUM: Legislative micromanaging is bad news for education

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