Introduction to Controversial Curriculum

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Daddy’s Roommate: A Case Study

Introduction: Controversial Curriculum

The cultural community inside and outside of a school can be a difficult place to navigate, especially when it comes to sensitive issues. As leaders, we have to consider the letter and spirit of the law while acting with integrity as school leaders. When dealing with culture, tensions will inevitably arise [good place for a reference here—why should we believe you?]. The community may not always agree with the school culture. Professionals within the school may disagree with each other. Educational leaders have to understand the school culture and how it may be shaken when the leader makes difficult decisions. Here is one challenging case that Principal Evans needs to troubleshoot. There was a book that addresses families with same-sex parents, Daddy’s Roommate, used in Ms. Bennett’s English class as part of a prejudice and censorship unit; the department chair approved the unit [better to use active voice: Ms Bennett used…]. A fellow English teacher took the book from Ms. Bennett’s classroom and read it to his class while engaging in book-bashing (we interpret this as gay-bashing); the special education teacher followed suit. When the parent of a student in the special education class complained, the vice principal made the hotheaded [careful. I agree it was hot-headed but you should be neutral in presenting the case…”hot-headed” can be your critique later on.] decision to ban the book along with other “controversial” [whose definition of controversial? Anytime something is in quotes it needs to be attributed to someone.] books used within the unit. Principal Evans has been informed [informed by whom?] of the assistant principal’s actions and must properly handle the situation. Good case, of course, and an interesting cultural one to present. Law, Rules, Policies and Procedures

As we tackle this case study, it’s critical we understand the legalities involved. From the top, we consider the Oregon Revised Statues (ORS) Volume 9, Chapters 326-359 regarding Education and Culture, specifically ORS sections 342.350- 342.450. These delegated powers go to the Teachers Standards and Practices Commission (TSPC). From the Oregon Administrative Rules (OAR) 584-020-0010, we find the outline for ‘The Ethical Educator & Professional Practices’. It states, “The Competent Educator will demonstrate a commitment to...recognize(ing) the worth and dignity of all persons and respect for each individual; promote democratic and inclusive citizenship and; use professional judgment.” TSPC’s ‘The Ethical Educator and Professional Practices’ provides a summary for the ethics and competencies for teachers. Very good to go to the heart of the legal matter. Exact policies and procedures for formal actions, such as a plan of assistance, are guided by the local level, in School Board policies, district policies and Contract Bargaining Agreements (CBA). ‘The Ethical Educator’ provides Principal Evans the primary evidence regarding the ethical violations by the two male ‘book basher’ teachers. Contacting Human Resources (HR) would be prudent and depending on prevailing attitudes, and facts from the investigation, informal or formal action could result. The district HR may report to TSPC. Of course, principal Evans’ response and decisions will need to be in alignment with the district. Looking into several local districts, all were very similar in content. We refer here to the Ashland School District board policies. The policy sections INB- titled “Studying Controversial Issues” and IB- titled “Academic Freedom” provide clarity regarding the content of the curriculum developed by Ms. Bennett. INB states, “The Board supports teaching about controversial issues… on an informative basis. A teacher who is in doubt about the advisability of discussing certain issues in the classroom should confer with the principal.” Ms. Bennett consulted her...
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