Parents, educators respond to Kansas legislature’s transparency bill

Emma Alderman | editor in chief

Kansas House Bill #2662, which was introduced to the Kansas legislature on February 6, revolves around transparency in schools. If the bill were to pass, all school districts would be required to provide an internet transparency tool containing all curriculum and activities for all grades. The transparency tool would also need to include a catalog of all books that students have access to along with any possible content warnings. 

Ron Highland, the Kansas house representative  for many Wabaunsee county residents, commented on the bill.

“My hope is to find a balance between what parents expect and what our excellent teachers desire.  The trust the public has in the education system, at all levels, is being questioned and all must work together to regain the trust,” Highland said. 

Locally there have been a couple instances of parents or community members wanting information on what kids are learning in school. 

“Parents/community members want to be informed and I’m thankful they want to be an intricate part of their child’s educational upbringing,” superintendent Brad Starnes said. 

One such instance occurred at the start of the school year during which a community member asked for some of the high school curriculum.  

“At the start of this school year, a county resident asked for a list of titles we use in class. I provided a list of books and stories we use in English 1 and 3, which included some things that we don’t use every year,” WHS English teacher Brendan Praeger said.

Lots of teachers already provide easy access to their curriculum for parents. One such way is through Google Classroom. The majority of WHS teachers already use this platform to distribute assignments and even quizzes. It is possible for parents to request access or to look at their student’s device. 

Community members have engaged in discussion following the introduction of this bill and lots of parents have spoken out about it. Some parents believe this bill will allow for easier access to information on their children’s education while others don’t think it is necessary.

“As a parent I desire to have information on all grade levels and classes that my students are in.  Because I do believe strongly in parents understanding what is being taught and that parents should be 100% active and involved in what they are learning,” Ashley Wurtz, mother of freshman Payton Wurtz and step mother of sophomore Wyatt Wurtz, said.

Other parents are unsure whether the bill is necessary or not. 

“Currently, it is very easy to ask a teacher for information on materials. I would reach out to the teacher in question via email and address the issue over emails or arrange a time to meet. I would also make sure to attend parent-teacher meetings that occur every semester. Finally, I would attend school board meetings if needed,” Brock Emmert, father of senior Celia Emmert, said. 

Some teachers have also voiced their thoughts on the bill stating that it is unnecessary due to their curriculum already being accessible. 

“I have read this bill and find that it is unwieldy, impossible to achieve and impossible to enforce. I have had parents ask to see my tests in the past. I sent them a photo of the material in question. I retain my tests during the school year. My doors and curriculum are open at all times and I welcome stakeholders,” WHS science teacher Lisa Hull said. 

 WHS principal Jan Hutley is also unsure whether there is a need for the bill.

“I cannot speak to how other districts operate, but because we already freely provide information and encourage parents to be involved in, and ask questions about their child’s education. I don’t see the need for governmental control of such concerns,” Hutley said. 

The bill was recently withdrawn from the legislative calendar and referred to the Committee on Appropriations. 

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