NC House budget would make it easier for parents to challenge ‘unfit’ school materials

·2 min read
Jonathon Gruenke/For WUNC

North Carolina Republican House leaders are reviving efforts to require teachers to post lesson plans online. They want to make it easier for parents to challenge school materials they consider to be unfit too.

The House budget proposal released on Wednesday included elements from “academic transparency” legislation that GOP legislators were unable get passed in the Senate in 2021. The provisions include requiring school districts and charter schools to post online the instructional materials they used in the past school year.

The legislation had been opposed in 2021 by Democratic lawmakers and the North Carolina Association of Educators as being a burden on teachers.

But Rep. Jeffrey Elmore, a Wilkes County Republican and a teacher, said at Wednesday’s news conference that the requirements shouldn’t be a problem because “much of the material is posted online or in some sort of website format.”

Posting lesson plans

When the bill was introduced in the House in 2021, House Republicans said the provision “ensures that tax dollars are spent to educate our students and not on distracting political projects.”

Any material used for instruction, including all textbooks, other reading materials, videos, digital materials, websites and other online applications would require posting.

Schools would also have to post information on each event and activity that took place outside classrooms during school hours. Required information would include a list of each person who spoke, what organization they represented and what instructional materials were presented.

Challenging ‘unfit’ materials

In a related budget provision, school boards would be required to create a local community media advisory committee to investigate and evaluate challenges to instructional materials and supplemental materials on the grounds that they are “unfit” materials.

Unfit is defined in the budget as being obscene, inappropriate to the age, maturity, or grade level of the students, or not aligned with the state’s standard course of study.

The budget also calls for the State Board of Education to create a State Community Media Advisory Committee to review challenges of materials, including those rejected by local committees. Currently, state law says that school boards may establish these local committees.

The districts that have committees have received a number of challenges. Over the past two years, people have brought at least 189 book challenges across this state’s 115 public school districts, journalists from nine North Carolina newsrooms learned by surveying the districts as part of Sunshine Week.

Books on race and sexuality were among the most targeted.