How much input do you believe teachers, parents, and administrators should have in selecting the classroom readers used in curriculum?
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I agree the strongest voice should be the teachers. Experts in that particular area of study should be the ones determining the curriculum. Teachers should also have the strongest voice because teachers know their particular students. They know what will and will not work well with their class and their school. There has to be some form of standardization and some form of accountability. Teachers cannot have the only say or each class of students would be learning different things. Other experts have to step in a create a curriculum guideline so there is some uniformity to the learning experience. Parents and students shouldn't have much say at all. They are not experts. Of course, if a parent is offended by a particular work, they should have the right to speak out. A student should be offered some choice in their selection of study as well as their selection of material (at least occasionally). There will always be materials that a student does not want to read, but that they should read and could learn a lot from. I think student and parental involvement can really be problematic if it is not handled correctly.
I agree that the teachers should have the most say in choosing the school's curriculum. But, I will add that all the teachers need to be "on the same page" when it comes to choosing what is best for their students. Their choice then needs to be put forth to a panel or board of experienced teachers who can then evaluate the curricula against a norm or prerequisite.
All public, private, and charter schools within the State of Utah have to meet the state curriculum guide. So, they pretty much know what they're looking for when presented with reading materials.
I agree to a great extent with # 7. In general, I think that teachers should have the greatest "say" in choosing curricula, since they are the ones who have the most first-hand experience with the students themselves. Obviously there should be certain agreed-upon general standards, but I would never want to see a great deal of power put into the hands of educational bureaucrats nor even, frankly, into the hands of schools of education.
I agree with the above statements, but will add that instead of "curriculum experts" at the state level dictating public school curriculum, it would probably be more beneficial to students if universities were involved in the curriculum selection, or at least had input and suggestions.
More and more college professors are complaining that rising college freshman are largely "unprepared" for the rigors of a true university classroom. Yet, how many states even use university input when it comes to curriculum selection? Certainly, it would seem that this should be built in somewhere, but clearly a disconnection is taking place.
I am in full favor of hiring competent teachers and trusting them for curriculum selection. The problem comes when inexperienced teachers are put in new schools with very little professional-peer support.
Parents in my school district have the right to express objections to particular reading materials and request that the materials be reviewed by the administration. If the review supports the reason for the objection, teachers are then expected to arrange for alternative readings and assignments. I think this is basically a pretty good compromise - it allows parents the option of another selection if they have legitimate concerns about an item in the curriculum.
With that process in place, I think teachers - with support from curriculum specialists in appropriate areas - are the most knowledgeable decision-makers regarding the literature and materials that best meet the needs of their students, the Core Curriculum, the high-stakes testing of the district, the NCLB concerns, and all the other criteria we pile on the decision-making process.
Decisions about curriculum and instruction should ultimately be made by professionals. Teachers should have sound reasons for materials they choose and they need the support, but not necessarily the guidance, of the school principal. Curriculum planning should be done at the state level, or at the very least at the district level. Like pohnpei points out, curriculum specialists should do most of the selection because they are trained to do so. Principals are not experts in all areas of curriculum, and they really don't need to be. Teachers should be able to focus on instruction and not mapping a complete curriculum. However, teacher and principals should be a part of the process and parents should certainly have a voice. I believe parents have the right to monitor or maybe even, to a degree, control what their children are exposed to. For example, parents who are concerned about controversial subjects in the classroom are justified, I think, in voicing those concerns. This is especially true for younger children. I have had parents complain about required reading in my AP English course before. It was a difficult lesson for me to learn, but I realized then that I needed to respect their wishes even though I didn't agree with them being so protective of high school seniors and "interfering" with my class. If parents have input at the beginning then many future problems can be avoided, and having the decisions steered by senior administrators almost guarantees that teachers will be supported if situations ever arise.
For the most part, I agree that only teachers and any curriculum experts on the district or state level (who are hopefully teachers from the right subject area) should have serious input into this. However, these people should take into account the opinions of parents in their area. For example, I think it would be unwise for a teacher to come into a rural, conservative district like my own and start to pick really controversial readings if there are others that could get the job done. No sense in antagonizing parents unless there's a really good reason.
I believe that the strongest voice should belong to the teachers. Teachers are the ones who are expected to have the mastery and can identify the texts which would serve to be the best for the students and their learning. After teachers, the administration should have a say. With the number of banned books being reduced, but still out there, the administration should be able to see past the societal views on a text and the importance of the material being taught.
I agree that parental interference can be problematic. As both a teacher and a parent, I know what teachers go through to make sure the material is relevant, able to be mastered, and fits into the Common Core. Many parents simply are not educated on these points.
Experts in the subject matter of the course should select readings. In general, parents have no particular expertise in the subjects being taught, nor do administrators. It would be best for curricula to be designed by scholars sufficiently knowledgeable to make informed choices in light of current research, rather than teachers who might only have general area knowledge.
Parental interference in curriculum is especially problematic. How can a parent, who may not have studied, for example, ancient history, physics, medieval literature, or biology since high school some 20 years ago make an informed decision about textbooks? An administrator whose academic background is in leadership or some other administrative or pedagogical subject may also not have the requisite knowledge to choose the best text.
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