Peoria Unified School District Parents Denied Access To Science Curriculum Selection Meetings

books

Parents in the Peoria Unified School District are questioning whether there are any science textbooks available for grades K-12 that are not written with a decidedly political bias. The question was raised after the parents took the time to review the texts proposed for adoption by the District this spring.

According to Peoria Unified administrator Marla Woolsey, the proposed material was reviewed twice by  a science committee. In the initial meeting, the committee determined which proposed curriculum met state standards. Representatives of the companies that survived the initial review were then allowed to conduct their sales pitches to the committee.

Only after that process were parents given the opportunity to review the materials. Initially the materials were only available for parental review in the District’s administrative offices, however parental pressure forced the District to begin making the materials available at school sites.

Despite the fact that texts contain blatant political bias, McGraw Hill, Discovery Education, and Houghton Mifflin made the semi-final cut for elementary classrooms and McGraw Hill, Houghton Mifflin and Savvas made the semi-final cut for high school classrooms.

A quick review of the materials should have made any educator or parent dismiss the materials out-of-hand. From baseless comments about “climate change deniers,” to characterizing some Christians’ beliefs as part of an effort to “distort the facts,” the authors fail to hide their intent to persuade rather than inform.

The barely veiled implication is that one must accept all “climate change orthodoxy,” or be declared a heretic. That is not how science is supposed to work.

climate change

One thing that struck parents while looking through McGraw Hill Environmental Science textbook was the fact that kids were encouraged to “Act Green.” Acting green, according to the text, includes eating less meat, purchasing green energy from utility companies and riding a bike instead of driving a car. The power of suggestion on kids K-12, is quite strong; encouragement translates to commands. It is highly inappropriate for a textbook to suggest behavior that is clearly out of a student’s control and has nothing to do with their current or future academic performance.

The Discovery Education textbook authors go so far as to suggest children engage in political activism on social media sites at the same many parents are struggling to keep their kids off the sites.

One Discovery Education teacher workbook suggests as an activity for students writing a short social media post about solutions to decrease human impact on the environment called the SOS Strategy: Tweet, Tweet.

A study release in February 2021 found that as “the amount of time young teenage girls spend glued to Instagram, TikTok and other social media sites goes up, so does their long-term risk for suicide.” Yet, these so-called educators are calling for more alienating screen time.

According to parents, they have been told by staff in Peoria’s Curriculum that the curriculum content is about multiple perspectives. But they say, a review of the materials shows that is clearly not the case.

Independent education experts are encouraging the parents to not only comb through the texts and teacher workbooks but also through the proposal outlines for each publishing company. Should they take the time to do just that, they might find, as one parents did, McGraw Hill’s  explanation of the goals behind the curriculum. “The curriculum provides avenues for the students to see STEAM as a way to understand and improve their world, take actions that combat equity or promote equity, and connect learning to social, political, and/or environmental concerns,” explains the company.

“As if it weren’t hard enough to get straight and honest answers about the curricula being taught, the materials being used and the textbooks being considered for purchase in their children’s classrooms, the Peoria Unified School District is now (or is that once again?) outright defying the law in order to make things even more difficult for parents,” former Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas told the ADI. “ARS 15-721(F)(2) and ARS 15-722(B)(2) very clearly “requires that all committee meetings for the purpose of selecting or reviewing textbooks are open to the public pursuant to title 38, chapter 3, article 3.1.” And yet PUSD’s Chief Student Services Officer, Carter Davidson, apparently believes that by duplicitously renaming such a committee which has been tasked with selecting textbooks to be considered for purchase the “Science Committee” the district can circumvent the law. It is neither lawful nor ethical but alas they can and will get away with it because as with virtually every statute in Title 15 that is intended to protect parents’ rights there are no consequences for districts that so flagrantly disregard those laws and rights.”

From: Dr. Carter Davidson <cdavidson@pusd11.net>
To: heather.rooks; Marla Woolsey <MWoolsey@pusd11.net>
Cc: Dr. Kendra Bell <KBell@pusd11.net>
Sent: Monday, January 10, 2022, 11:34:17 AM MST
Subject: RE: [EXTERNAL] Science curriculum committee questions

Hello Ms. Rooks. I wanted to respond and was unsure if you had heard back yet. The science committee meetings were not open to the public and there are currently no more scheduled.

Thank you
Carter

Carter Davidson, Ed. D.
Chief Student Services Officer
6330 W Thunderbird Rd
Glendale, AZ  85306
Phone: 623-486-6003
www.peoriaunified.org

It is apparent that parents have been left out of the most meaningful portion of the selection process. They are left with only deciding which low quality text would be less agenda driven. As a result it is has been suggested that the District go back to the drawing board and include parents from the start.

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