A boost for program transparency | News, Sports, Jobs

Photo courtesy of Nicole Wichmann Students from Southview Elementary worked together on a classroom activity. Area school districts, including Marshall Public Schools, say they are open to speaking with parents for questions about books and instructional materials.

MARSHALL — Although Lyon County school districts don’t have specific policies about making school materials available online, administrators said they’re open to talking with parents about the program.

“Our teachers are very open and honest with what they teach,” said Beth Ritter, director of teaching and learning at Marshall Public Schools.

Ritter said MPS has a form for parents to request to review school materials and voice concerns. She said the district had asked parents to find out about the review process, but to her knowledge, no parent had filed a formal request.

With technology moving more parts of education online, parents may already have access to their children’s textbooks or other learning materials, area school administrators said.

Several US state legislatures are considering bills involving program transparency. Last week, Republican lawmakers in Minnesota also unveiled a “Parents’ Bill of Rights” wrap. The bills in the package would require schools to give parents access to lesson plans and to provide educational materials free of charge to parents who request them. Schools would also be prohibited from withholding information about their children’s lessons or welfare from parents.

Currently, Minnesota laws already require school districts to have procedures for parents, guardians, or adult students to review the content of educational materials. If the parent, guardian, or adult student objects to the content, school districts must also make reasonable arrangements for alternative instruction.

This week, Ritter and other area school administrators encouraged parents to ask questions about their children’s education.

“We encourage them to start with a teacher in the classroom,” Ritter said.

At MPS, concerned parents or community members can also submit a form to a principal to request instructional materials for review. School policies state that a construction team of teachers, administrators, or other staff will review the application and any proposed solutions to the issues.

MPS policies also include guidelines for discussing controversial issues in the classroom. Some of the guidelines state that controversial issues can be discussed if the issues relate to a student’s course of study or relevant current events, if all aspects of the issue can be presented using facts, and if the discussion does not reflect negatively on other people. because of race, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation or other factors.

MPS policies, including policies on curriculum review, are available online at https://marshallpub.ic-board.com/.

Ritter said many MPS teachers make classroom materials available to families. As online learning has become more common at the middle and high school level, textbooks and other educational materials can be accessed online. Many Marshall High School teachers also provide lesson plans for their classes, she said.

Tracy Area Public Schools Superintendent Chad Anderson said parents with questions or concerns about their children’s education can contact the class teacher or building superintendent.

“With many of our manuals already online, transparency would not be an issue. Most of the materials created by teachers are also posted daily to Schoology for their students,” Anderson said.

He also said Tracy-area schools post most of their curriculum on their website, with links to language arts, math, science social studies, and elementary spelling curriculum. .

“Most of the materials created by teachers are also posted daily to Schoology for their students. Teachers plan by (state) standards, so it would be easy to direct parents to the standards, which are already posted on the Minnesota Department of Education website,” he said. “We follow state standards. If a parent has an objection to a standard being taught, we may suggest an alternate task to meet the standard. »

The Tracy Area Public School District Policies, which are posted online at http://www.tracy.k12.mn.us/district/school-board/district-policies/, also include policies concerning books and other materials for school libraries. , and to manage the discussion of controversial issues in class. The Controversial Issues Policy requires consideration of factors such as a student’s right to study a controversial issue at his or her level, recognizing that reasonable compromise is important in society, and respecting all opinions.

Lakeview School Superintendent Chris Fenske said parents in the district should also contact their children’s teachers with any questions about the curriculum or school materials.

“They would be allowed to see the material and decide if it is something they want their child to participate in,” Fenske said. “We are also an iPad school, so many students have educational materials in schoology or on their iPads, which can also be viewed by parents.”

Fenske said that generally if a class topic might be controversial — like learning about puberty — the teacher will send a note home to families.

“If they don’t want to participate, they can do another mission”, Fenske said.

Lakeview student handbooks indicate that teachers must accept the alternate assignment and work with families, Fenske said.

Some area principals said their districts don’t have a formalized request process for parents to see school materials, but they encouraged parents to ask questions.

“We don’t have a formal policy on curriculum review. However, upon request, we are always open to answer parents’ questions about their child’s education. said Minneota Superintendent Dan Deitte. “We are prepared to implement any legislation the Governor and Legislature of Minnesota may enact, including any legislation related to the program.”

Russell-Tyler Ruthton Superintendent David Marlette said the school district hasn’t received requests from parents to see class materials. However, he said the district is also willing to work with parents if there are any documents they wish to review.

“If the parents want more information, we will get it for them,” said Marlette. “We are very open here.”

The selection process for textbooks and other classroom materials for area school districts is an ongoing cycle, school officials said.

Ritter said MPS is guided by state education standards in selecting new materials. The district selects new teaching materials over a six-year cycle for each subject.

For example, she said, this year the MPS is in the second year of the new science program rollout cycle. Other subjects, such as mathematics and art, music and world languages, are at different points in the cycle.

“At Lakeview, we adhere to state-approved standards, more than just prescribed instructional materials,” Fenske said. At Lakeview, books and other materials also go through a curriculum review cycle, culminating in curriculum committee members making a recommendation to the school board. “There are two board members on the program committee, and program materials are approved at a public meeting.”

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