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Bring transparency to school curricula

The Education Committee of the state Assembly recently passed legislation we endorse: A bill requiring public school districts to publish curricula and lists of textbooks used on their websites.

According to Ryan Brown’s column in Monday’s edition of the Williamsport Sun-Gazette, the bill’s sponsor, state Rep. Andrew Lewis, R-Lower Paxton Township, says the measure could help curb “anti-American socialism” in textbooks.

We are skeptical that any school in Lycoming County is teaching anti-American socialism. Such a theory, really, makes the strongest case against other proposals from some in the state Legislature to ban or dictate what is taught in the state’s schools. In reality, a “one-size-fits-all” proposal on curricula would fit many school districts poorly. Schools where community members are adamant in the opposition to socialism are highly unlikely to be teaching it. Legislators from such communities may very well have such an expansive definition of socialism that the demand-side capitalism parents and taxpayers in other districts want taught would be blocked by state edict.

But the proposal from Lewis still allows the residents of each school district to speak with courtesy and reason to their school boards in crafting the district’s curricula and better provides the district residents the tools to better know what they support including in the curricula and what they want removed.

We hope such a law would help dispel fears and rumors about what our local school districts’ curricula include. We are confident that greater transparency would equip community members to contribute in school board meetings in a more constructive way. We appreciate that this proposal keeps decisions on what textbooks should be used and what a school’s curriculum includes where they belong — in the communities where students are being educated and with the school boards elected by the tax-paying community members.

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