Across the country, state legislators have introduced academic transparency bills in twenty states. This legislation requires schools to post all school curriculum, lessons, materials, and activities in a public portion of the school district’s website, so that education is no longer a government secret.
Last week, I testified before the Arizona legislature’s Senate Education Committee in support of the Academic Transparency Act (Senate Bill 1211). I recounted my cautionary tale of what happened to me because my state does not have academic transparency legislation. The teachers union sued me for submitting public records requests about critical race theory and before that, my school district publicly threatened to sue me for submitting those same requests. You can hear my full testimony here.
Arizona parents also testified at the hearing in support of academic transparency, and you can see some of their testimonies here, here, here, and here.
I also met with Arizona Governor Doug Ducey, who supports the rights of parents to know what their children are learning. Governor Ducey is a strong proponent of academic transparency reform and school choice.
The Goldwater Institute’s academic transparency reform initiative includes model policy for both the state level and school district level. Parents can give these model policies to their state legislators to pass into law.
When I tell parents to do this they say, “Okay, but what exactly do I do?” Most parents have no experience advocating—this is certainly all new to me! Here are the action items I propose:
1. Contact your state legislators.
Email your state senator and representative, and ask for a meeting about introducing an academic transparency bill. If you can’t meet, send an email in support of academic transparency reform and include links from this blog and The Goldwater Institute.
Not sure which representative is politically aligned with academic transparency? Find legislators who are already on your side. You can research the voting records of legislators who have strong voting records in favor of pro-parent and pro-student bills like school choice. Keep in mind that it’s always good to have bipartisan support.
2. Be prepared with policy.
Give your state legislator a model policy for academic transparency. You could also bring a bill that was successfully passed in other states, including legislation recently passed by the Indiana House.
3. Follow the bill.
Ask your state legislator when he or she will introduce it and mark your calendar. Once it’s introduced, sign up for bill tracking on your legislature’s website so you can be notified of any progress within the House or Senate.
4. Testify in favor of the bill and bring friends.
Sign up to testify on the website of your state legislature. Organize a group of friends to sign up. Tell others to submit written statements if they cannot attend. Document your hard work. Take pictures and post them on social media to encourage others to advocate for academic transparency in their states.
5. It’s not over ‘til it’s over.
If the bill passes, CONGRATS. Continue to track it to the next level. Record the representatives who did not vote in favor of the bill. Use their voting records against them in their re-election campaigns. This is war and every loss is ammunition for your next win.
If our schools will not hold themselves accountable, then our elected representatives must help us hold schools accountable. No more public records requests. No more begging for your parental rights. Instead, vindicate your rights with academic transparency legislation that opens the window to public schools and the door to your children’s future.