NEW YORK, NY – Last month, gubernatorial voters in Virginia reacted against the sentiment, expressed most memorably by then-candidate Terry McAuliffe, that parents should not have a say in the material schools teach. Yet research shows greater academic outcomes when parents are actively engaged in their children’s learning.
To that end, a new policy document produced by the Manhattan Institute provides model language designed to promote transparency in public-school curricula. Compiled by experts James R. Copland, Christopher F. Rufo, and John Ketcham, the document recognizes that the finer points of curricular design need not be directed by plebiscite, but that states can provide parents with a pathway for reviewing materials and objecting to those that a plurality would consider flagrantly misguided.
Unfortunately, recent innovations in curricula, particularly those that encourage children to see themselves as victims or oppressors based on unchosen racial and gender qualities, demonstrate the need for transparency measures. But with an emphasis on openness, built on the understanding that funding common schools within a democratic system requires information and engagement, America’s public schools have an opportunity to improve educational outcomes while restoring parental trust.
Rufo and Copland are senior fellows and Ketcham a fellow with the Manhattan Institute. Rufo directs the institute’s initiative on critical race theory and Copland directs its legal policy efforts. The authors explain the motivation and logic behind their new document in an op-ed for City Journal: Next Step for the Parents’ Movement: Curriculum Transparency.