Thanks, Citizen Sleuths!
It appears that some in the education lobby didn’t like our “citizen sleuth” exercise from two weeks ago. (This was our call for your help calculating ease of access to health [sexuality] education curricula on school district websites.) Our simple research effort was spun this way in a Senate hearing on curriculum transparency:
…we actually got wind of an email that went out calling for “citizen sleuths” from a group to sign up to do the “how to catch teachers teaching sexuality” in our classrooms…it is not sexuality* we are teaching, it is the human reproduction and anatomy of what happens to your body when you go through puberty and how we make babies in South Carolina.
You know what the actual exercise was! You were charged with helping us assess school district compliance with the budget proviso that requires the posting of curricula. There was no attempt to “catch teachers teaching sexuality” or our using the word “sexuality”* improperly. Our request was essentially clerical.
So, what did the citizen sleuths find?
It was this: of district websites searched by our volunteer researchers, most districts were at some level of compliance. Some curricular postings were for previous school years, others were difficult to find, but the overall grade for technical compliance (curricula being posted somewhere online) was a passing grade on a pass/fail scale. But, our researchers found that the sites of other districts contained nothing, or generic information about health [sexuality] education but no mention of the actual curriculum being used. One education official suggested to us that the problem in the latter cases could be poor website design. Possibly.
Nevertheless, a codification of the Grooms proviso on the terms we proposed two weeks ago and in Senate testimony should provide the encouragement needed for all districts to make all curricula difficult to miss.
*The Comprehensive Health Education statute itself uses some form of the word 21 times, as it should. Aside from citing a media reference to suspect Planned Parenthood-promoted curricula, we raised no concerns with the curricula (yet), only the unevenness of transparency.