Denying parental access to curriculum may violate federal law

Superintendent explains today, “it isn’t as easy as handling over a curriculum”

By Guy Page

A statement by the Essex-Westford school superintendent may reflect school practices that violate federal law.

As reported in yesterday’s Vermont Daily Chronicle, Supt. Beth Cobb said at the Nov. 9 school board meeting modern teaching methods make it impossible for parents to review classroom curriculum. However, today she said teachers do make materials available to parents when requested.

“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. However, the district’s educational standards and goals and learning units are available on the school website, she said. 

However, not providing parents inspection of classroom curriculum and materials is an apparent violation of federal law: 20 USC 1232h(a)

(a)Inspection of instructional materials by parents or guardians All instructional materials, including teacher’s manuals, films, tapes, or other supplementary material which will be used in connection with any survey, analysis, or evaluation as part of any applicable program shall be available for inspection by the parents or guardians of the children.

Today, Cobb responded to the Chronicle’s request for comment.

Yes, we do need to make instructional materials available for parents when requested,” Cobb said. “What I was explaining in the meeting was that it isn’t as easy as handing over a curriculum. It’s not a book. We teach to the VT Standards and we certainly can give materials to parents. I referenced SEL at the board meeting because I have had FOIA requests for our SEL curriculum and was from a community member. We do work with parents and guardians on requests.”

Republished from yesterday’s edition:

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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Categories: Education

6 replies »

  1. She is making little human “buildings”(?) Aside from obvious unconstitutionality as leftists adhere to, the fact that this educator believes buildings can be human might be a part of the overall problem to.

  2. That’s because there IS no curriculum. Years ago we asked for curriculum. Nothing so we pulled them out.
    No grading (1-4-joke) compliments no curriculum.
    Why do you think it was so hard after three weeks prep time to produce any academic work during cyber learning in spring 2020? If there was a followed curriculum and text it wouldn’t have been hard at all.

    As a matter of fact with no IT dept and no “curriculum coordinator”, our kids private school accomplished this BEFORE the governors deadline. They did it in a week. We had full week full academics. Why? Because they have textbooks, curriculum and a high academic standard.

    Ewsd has gotten far worse with Cobb at the helm, which was hard to do as Denova was pretty bad herself.

  3. Thanks for calling out the Federal law on this matter. No parent should need to feel intimidated to the point of despair and without recourse on this matter.

    Sadly every parent should be vigilent on racial lessons that are being taught. Some can be healthy – appreciation of BIPOC people that have risen and upheld community centered values should be taught. Too many today are being slanted to stir racial hatreds and divides. Awareness that this exists should also be taught along with other community draining elements – too many drugs, too many homeless, effects of sex trafficking that especially older students, though sadly some younger students, should know about, so they know how to protect themselves from decisions that may lead to these outcomes.

    This comes from a North Hampton, MA, parent of a teenager – he specifically mentions these materials: White Privilege – a NYTimes best seller, another Stand, and another This Book is Anti Racist – that looks like a comic book, that have come home from school that teach children to judge people based on their color. He tells of racial teachings in a preschool Montesorri school.

    This comes for Upper East Side of Manhattan where a prestigious costly prep school parent speaks out on what they’ve seen.

    Vermont parents – add your voice. What are you seeing?

  4. Did Beth fail to realize that she had humans in front of her in her experience as an educator?

    Many teachers will not share book lists, lesson plans, or resources used to educate on behalf of the curriculum maps. It’s week 10 of my request, they have only given me the link to Google Classroom, after passing me around to various meeting related to my request. I was told I’m “not trusted” with the information, and that “it would be too much work” to share the information, as well as “it’s an unreasonable request, and the school trusts their teachers”…

    Completely unacceptable! Run for school board and terminate leadership who doesn’t make this a priority.

  5. If people only knew what really goes on in the EWSD Superintendent’s office. Beth Cobb needs to be forced out with a no confidence vote. If taxpayers only knew of the fraud, waste and abuse under her tenure, they would be appalled. They have a curriculum director that has no idea what she’s doing and misuses taxpayer and grant money. Very toxic environment working under Cobb’s leadership. Someone needs to get an accounting firm into the EWSD finance office and just look at the money that’s being used for travel, lodging and other frivolous expenses. It’s like a private checkbook for Cobb and her leadership team.