Survey says: Majority of educators believe parents should be involved in curriculum choices

Increased parent involvement has quickly become a bright spot amid the otherwise frustrating aspects of schooling during COVID-19. More parents are keeping a watchful eye on the learning materials that come home in the backpack and voicing concern over politicized and divisive curriculum choices.

And educators appear to be supportive of this involvement, according to a national survey by the EdWeek Research Center. A majority (63 percent) of more than 1,300 polled district leaders, school leaders and teachers believe that parents should be involved in curriculum and materials selection in their district or school — 50 percent responded “somewhat involved” and 13 percent responded “very involved.” And 54 percent support the idea of letting parents opt their children out of classes, curricula, or units they disapprove of (29 percent “somewhat support”; 25 percent “completely support”).

But only around a third of respondents said that parents are actually involved in selecting curriculum and materials in their district. A large part of that could be parents not knowing the legal rights they have in their child’s educational setting.

The federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) signed by President Obama in 2015 requires public schools to have policies and procedures in place that ensure “the involvement of parents.”

Minnesota state law (120B.20) requires districts to have a procedure in place for a parent to review the content of the instructional materials provided to their child and, if the parent objects to the content, make “reasonable arrangements” with school personnel for alternative instruction. Further, if the alternative instruction offered by the school board does not meet the concerns of the parent, that parent may provide alternative instruction. No repercussions or academic penalties can be imposed on the student for arranging alternative instruction.

In addition, Minnesota Statute 120B.11 requires school districts to provide for regular community review of the curriculum review process. While this requirement is more broad, it is still a way to ensure parents are involved in overseeing a district’s review and evaluation cycle for each subject area.

During American Experiment’s Raise Our Standards tour, parents were informed of these rights and encouraged to exercise them to better understand their child’s academic environment and to ensure academic excellence is prioritized.

Parents, you are your child’s first teachers and your involvement in his or her education is essential to student success. Know your rights and use them!