Curriculum – Responsibility And Authority – Who Cares?

The Board of Education meets tonight with an agenda that opens with the usual audience of citizens followed by a time of recognition for student leaders.  The new business is rather limited but deserves some comment.  Later in the meeting under old business we have a discussion on the role and responsibility of the Board concerning curriculum.

One of the items under new business is approval of a high school trip to Germany, Italy and Switzerland.  The approval for trips usually is quick but is this really a school function, and why is the school approving the trip?  Could the same trip be run without school approval?  Is there some motivation, class credit or liability issue that should be looked at before the trip is approved?  These questions should be asked.

Under old business is a topic entitled the “Role and Responsibility of Board regarding District Curriculum”.  This would seem to be one of the primary responsibilities for any Board of Education but according to previous minutes this Board wants to discuss at what level to be involved.

In most communities the Board of Education takes the role and responsibility for oversight seriously and it would seem that is a correct course of action.  The Coventry Board of Education over the past several years has taken a very minor role in regards to curriculum.

There have been many courses added over the last few years and this Board has not looked at the course content or text books as part of their role or responsibility.  It was during a recent discussion of new courses that Board member John Barrett asked about the responsibility and role the Board should take.  Is the current level of participation what it should be?  I would say no, but that a matter of opinion?   Consider just this part of their role according to State Statute:

Sec. 10-229. Change of textbooks. (a) No board of education shall change any textbooks used in the public schools except by a two-thirds vote of all the members of the board, notice of such intended change having been previously given at a meeting of such board held at least one week previous to the vote upon such change.

We spend considerable funds on textbooks and have introduced many new courses but does anyone remember the discussion of textbooks?  This has not happened in recent memory but is that ok?  Let’s take a closer look at what our own Board policy says in this regard:

Section 6161 says An effort shall be made to ensure that comparable materials are available to all students throughout the school system. All large scale textbook adoption recommendation should be available for public viewing for 60 days prior to Board of Education discussion.  The Board of Education will discuss the suggested textbook at one meeting, and then at the next Board of Education meeting the textbook will be warned for adoption.

Can anyone recall meetings in the last four years when 7 new courses were added that this procedure was followed?  It is possible that none of the courses have textbooks but it seems that is highly unlikely.

It is hard to imagine if the curriculum has not been reviewed in detail over the last four years how the Board can be in compliance with their own by laws that require them to consider, revise and adopt any changes in the curriculum.  When discussion has come forward it is often after the changes have been made.  This was also the case with the new grading and report cards.  The Board has not been an active participant or taken an active role in executing their responsibility and it will be interesting to hear why tonight.

Do you as a parent or taxpayer believe that the Board of Education should be taking an active role to consider, review, and adopt any changes in the curriculum before they are put in place?  Would you prefer that the Board of Education limit their role to being informed by the administration as to what is happening?

This could be the best on television tonight so get your snacks ready and tune in at 7:30 on channel 13 locally.


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