Dr. Oran Smith
Curriculum Transparency: Codify and Expand Grooms Proviso
Dr. Oran Smith
Much of the testimony on the South Carolina Transparency and Integrity in Education Act last week was concerned with the teaching of critical race theory and the need for strengthening parent rights. The organizations representing parents (including Parents Advocating for Children’s Education [PACE] and Moms for Liberty) did a phenomenal job speaking to grave concerns about CRT.
Our approach was a little bit different. We asked the bottom line question about existing curriculum transparency:
”Which South Carolina school districts are following current state law on sexuality (health) education transparency?
Here’s a quick history of transparency and a request for your help as a “citizen sleuth.”
In 1988, the Palmetto State passed the Comprehensive Health Education Act. The Act made it very clear what could be taught in South Carolina public schools on the matter of human sexuality.
However, in the early 2000s, evidence began to pile up that the law was not being followed. Parents were horrified at some of the concepts being taught to their children in violation of state law. Accusations of the involvement of Planned Parenthood in certain curricula were raised.
So, to provide disinfecting sunlight, Senator Larry Grooms (R-Berkeley) successfully inserted a simple proviso in the state budget (1.49). The proviso requires that “[e]ach district shall publish on its website the title and publisher of all health education materials it has approved, adopted, and used in the classroom.” Failure to follow the proviso would result in a cut in state funds to the district.
The Grooms proviso preceded the new curriculum transparency movement in America and is nearly ten years old, so it needs revising and expanding.
We believe that the Grooms proviso (now numbered 1.41) should: a) be placed in the state code not just a budget proviso, b) include all curricula for all courses taught, c) require placement on the district home page, and d) include real penalties for failure to provide information required by law.