Showing classroom curriculum to parents ‘can’t be done,’ Essex superintendent says

By Guy Page

New teaching methods make it impossible for the Essex-Westford School District to provide classroom curricula to interested parents, School Superintendent Beth Cobb told the school board Tuesday, Nov. 9. 

The school board was debating a proposed new policy committing to provide clear expectations about what’s happening in school.

“It would seem to me that the curriculum, the learning goals, and the specifics of what is being taught are not always readily available,” Board Member Al Bombardier said, in the Media Factory video, beginning at 45:25. 

“That’s a difficult thing to do, as to the way we teach now. We teach to the needs of the students,” Superintendent Beth Cobb said. “Even when I began teaching, it was more a matter of opening a book, and following exactly what the book told us to teach. Now we realize we have humans in front of us. We need to meet their needs. We have to be adaptable and flexible.”

The school district sets standards, goals and learning units, all available on the school website. But the curriculum – the books and lesson plans and other learning materials – is prepared at the classroom level by the teacher, Cobb said. 

And teachers, she said, have autonomy. 

“We have our standards that we teach. And then teachers have the autonomy to teach to those standards,” she said. “We are not making widgets. We are making little human beings.” 

“The curriculum is a difficult thing when somebody says please show me your social and learning curriculum. It can’t be done; it’s an ongoing process,” Cobb said. 

Parents want “retail” level information, Bombardier said. “They are,” Cobb said–but they can’t have it. 

They think about when they were back in school,” Cobb said. “Like when I could hand over the teaching books, the text books. We don’t have those anymore.”

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42 replies »

    • Venezuela, another Marxist regime, has made it illegal for a hospital to list anyone’s cause of death as starvation. If you can’t look for something, you’ll never find it.

  1. So this superintendent is saying that a teacher isn’t required to prepare a lesson plan? Both the superintendent and principal should be removed for incompetence.

  2. “Showing classroom curriculum to parents ‘can’t be done,’ Essex superintendent says.”


    Showing classroom curriculum to parents ‘WON”T be done,’ Essex superintendent says.

    Authoritarians always try to camouflage their tyranny in the ‘I was only following orders’ routine. But that doesn’t make them any less accountable – unless no one gives a damn.

  3. When I homeschooled my son I had to prevent a lesson plan. I deviated from it once in awhile to meet his needs and interests but I still had a plan and curriculum material. I do not want my grandchild curriculum to be created by somebody with a Bernie Sanders poster on their front lawn and clear signs of TDS all over there social media.

  4. I suspect taxpayer funding for schools “can’t be done” until schools begin to show accountability for what they are teach kid.

  5. Isn’t this the same district that continues to fly the BLM flag? There’s your tip off that it’s an organization supporting Marxists. So, of course they won’t share the curriculum. Parents should be pulling their kids out of the school for other options. Then you can start defunding this Government run institution masking as a “school”

  6. The following is a link to the VT Stautes online and what is included in the study of comprehensive health education.

    This is a link to ” an Educator’s Guide to implementing LGBTQ and inclusive Sex Ed” from the Vermont Agency of Education titled Full Spectrum (2018)

    Take a look at these and you’ll have a more clear picture of at least some of the “goals” in the school’s curriculum. It’s a start to being informed.

  7. So, the superintendent is saying that they teach individuals and so it’s impossible to let anyone know about what’s in the curriculum. Does each teacher just come to school each day without a goal and just wing it? Even if they have individual targets or plans for each student, don’t they at least have a goal mind? How will they know at the end of the day whether they’ve made progress toward ‘educating’ each individual student without a plan and a goal? If they have these 2 things, are they super confidential, or do is it possible they think the parents are too clueless to understand it? Maybe they think the parents might understand it, but would disapprove This sounds like they just don’t want to share the information. The parents are responsible to care for their children, AND pay taxes for their education, but they have no right to know any details about what they’re supposed to be learning? I hate to use the latest jargon, but saying things like this certainly sounds like ‘gaslighting’ to me. It also seems rather arrogant, but who am I to ask such questions?

    • So planned parenthood is providing part of the sex education for our precious children? Unbelievable!!
      I homeschooled our 4 children and it was a huge blessing on many levels. Perhaps other parents should consider it!

  8. This is why so many Vermont parents are making the sacrifice and choosing private schools – education is too precious to leave to chance. That is: government schools & union employees.

  9. My, such corrosive and damaging views….saying that “academic freedom” and student-centered pedagogy are simply incompatible with the rights of parents to know what how their kids are being taught. Since when? Parents are not dimwits who have a hard time grasping that classrooms are different now than they were in 1950, Ms. Cobb. Most of them understand and respect the teacher’s role and work. They can also grasp the difference between “standards” and “methods”. They are not asking for the keys to the car. Just for some idea of what the dashboard looks like and how the motor and transmission work. For goodness sake, what a demeaning and insulting posture, Ms. Cobb. People of Essex…..this is shameful. Go in there and demand to know how the kids are being taught. That stuff forms the basis of the school’s teacher performance appraisal system. If Ms. Cobb is expected and enabled to know how the teachers teach, you ought to be too.

  10. Oh yeah? Let me tell you something folks. Parents are in the Drivers’ seat, and do not let anyone tell you otherwise. The hog wash that superintendent uttered is just that, HOGWASH!! !!! Parents, keep demanding the curriculum, and do not rest until you have it.

  11. Vermont cost per student is 5th highest in the nation @ $19,000 ….
    Superintendent Cobb is clearly a trained Marxist/Soros pet when she states, “We are making little human buildings.” She couldn’t supervise the spreading of mustard at a hot dog cart. She is now naked on Front St. – Your Fired – Go Virginia!

  12. Wow, these school boards are really full of themselves ! They are no more than two bit dictators. They need a comeuppance ! Vote them out !

  13. I’ve been 30+ years in classrooms and like the lively discussion this has generated. I know what Advisory Classrooms in many of Vermont’s Middle Schools and High Schools look like and feel like. I saw lessons that came not from the teacher’s but from the Essex administrative team last spring. Ms. Cobb, those are likely easily available. Share them with your community. From a legal friend – the federal law entitles parents to know….20 USC 1232h(a)

    The daily Essex advisory lessons included discussion questions like – compare a lynching from the fronteir days to police brutality of today. The cover of the New Yorker magazine with a collage of pictures making up George Floyd’s image composed of scenes of black people killed in ugly circumstances that drop down clicks revealed portions of the stories. However at the Essex board meeting the students present knew nothing about George Floyd’s drug and prison history and his less than stellar poster child background. They hadn’t been taught that side of George Floyd. They also hadn’t been taught anything about the darkside of BLM, the flag your district continues to fly high while allowing the American flag to get disgarded at one of your schools.

    What happened to the days when what was displayed to our children were people of all races and creeds that exemplified healthy models of community support were depicted as examples to our children? Bring back the models of MLK, of Fredrick Douglass, of Sojourner Truth and many others. Teach it to both your BIPOC and white students, that all may learn to honor integrity and the freedoms and justice our constitution provides. Teach them the constitution that America’s founding fathers gave not only to America, but to the world as a hope for governance of We the People, not some dictatorial authority figure who wants to divide and dominate the people.

    This clip is long, but well worth your time – it is an overview of the history of governance throughout the recorded history of mankind. It was recorded this past weekend by Bill Federer, a prolific author and reknown historian.

  14. I think that Essex Superintendent Cobb just said that Essex Westford school have no standards they can produce….did i misunderstand something ?

  15. This report and the comments are all speaking to the issue of changing/ improving/fixing the public school system…making it more responsive to families. Parents are cast in the role of desperate petitioners to the school and its powerful professional overlords. These professional have an unassailable excuse network justifying why these family customers can’t have what they want. Is this a tenable model for a service organization? That is, customers molding themselves to what the providers say they must take under the disconnected fiscal control of a bureaucracy? Shouldn’t the roles be reversed? Shouldn’t families control the resources for educating their kids? Shouldn’t teachers be untethered so they can offer services families might want?

  16. Don’t live in the Essex School District, but I suggest things are going to get worse. This will spread through Vermont, like a Smelly, Rotten Fungus. Already, The State Board of Education is a cheering squad. All of us in every School District must rise up, protest energetically, rid our School Boards of those who would deny us the right to review what our children and families are subjected to. If you have 25 kids in a class there is no way a teacher should be expected to create an individual educational road map. The class should have goals that every student should be expected to achieve. Some could need additional assistance to reach that goal. if the goal is for all to read at fifth grade level then so be it. Or math at third grade level. Teachers should be evaluated on student achievement. We have seen students in high school that can barely read at elementary.

  17. I didn’t know that the link would appear in the reply for the Bill Federer – We the People overview of world history. You might want to skip the 4 min. intro piece. It is really a history lesson that touches upon some Adult Sunday School. Please, let the history lesson draw you in even if church isn’t your forte.

  18. Educators use vague curriculum maps as guidance and introduce their own materials and lesson plans-1) this allows for autonomy in teaching, and very little transparency snd accountability, unless the teacher prioritizes this for parents, which would make their lives much easier. 2) The administration doesn’t need to review any content or appraise the teacher, because they can’t- making their job much easier.

    Solution- Introduce a resolution to audit different lesson plant randomly and quarterly as a Board. Hold teachers to a standard of performance if the administration will not. The Superintendent essentially said she won’t do her job, sorry I can’t do it.

  19. Oh Guy, you’re such a rascal……..This is just an early April Fool’s Day joke, right?

    No rational Superintendent would ever make such an outrageous claim and actually expect to get away with it…..If one did think he could get away with such a response, he has no business running a school system and over seeing the education of Vermont children on the tax payer’s dollar.

  20. This is either ignorance or deceit, either way she needs to be fired. You mean to tell me teachers can’t show parents what they’re teaching kids because they don’t know and I’m supposed to believe that?

  21. This is so wrong. You can understand why more parents are homeschooling their children. The children do not belong to the school or state.

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