WASHINGTON (TND) — There was an unintended and unexpected consequence of COVID-19. Parents were at home with their children and had a front-row seat to their education.
They got more involved and in many cases, got angrier.
With changes to masking policies in schools, the debate has shifted toward changes in curriculum. This includes what should be talked about in the classroom and what subjects and books should be off-limits.
The past two years have shown us that education, particularly in a public education setting should not be a one size fits all solution," said Nicole Neily, president and founder of Parents Defending Education.
Neily is upbeat about the idea of changes unfolding in schools across the country, which experts say could bring on a new reality — that what you learn may soon largely depend on where you live.
We’ve seen it happen already with the so-called critical race theory, which seeks to understand the role racism has played in shaping U.S. laws.
The lightning-rod political issue had led 35 states to either sign the theory into law or propose legislation restricting or banning the teaching of it.
"There have always been regional differences in the kinds of lessons students have learned," Neily said. The idea that all students should learn the same thing ... I think it does students a disservice because we want students to grapple with different material.
There are few people engaged in this debate who say having it is a bad thing.
Most are excited about the ability to revisit what we value and also talk about the role of teachers and parents.
But there are concerns that misinformation and manufactured outrage are resulting in curriculum changes that might leave children further behind.
I think it is very concerning when we cannot build consensus around the very basic values in education for our children," said Altheria Caldera, with Howard University's school of education.
Caldera is a former middle school teacher herself. She worries the consequences of new laws could be detrimental for years to come.
"These will be children that will grow up without accurate historical knowledge because this history that is being taught has been so limited and catered to the voices of a small minority," she said. She added that when children grow up, many may leave their communities for college or work and could be ill-prepared.
She argues when we talk about shaping schools moving forward, we should remember what we’re really doing is shaping society.