Labor Watch

The Fight for True Education: Academic Transparency

The Fight for True Education (full series)
A Brief History | Academic Transparency
Signs of Hope | Refusal to Deceive Parents

Academic Transparency

I want to give some hope to those parents. Despite major opposition from the two most prominent teachers’ unions, education advocates are fighting for your kids in the public school classroom. At their urging, some states have enacted academic transparency laws.

I interviewed Joe Seyton from the Goldwater Institute about academic transparency laws:

We see academic transparency as about sunlight and empowering parents. Schools across the country are trying to push indoctrination on children. They’re trying to teach them to hate America. They’re trying to teach them lies about America’s founding. And they’re trying to do all of this in secret. They don’t want parents to decide what’s best for their children. They think that they can usurp the role of parents. Academic transparency puts power back in the hands of parents who know their children best. Academic transparency says that parents have the right to know what is being taught to their children in taxpayer-funded schools.

My message to parents is this: Fighting for academic transparency laws is the way to go if you want to take back your child’s public education. These laws will cause curriculum writers to think twice about adding radical gender ideologies or critical-race-theory tenets to lessons. They will have to contend with the eyes of parents who now have open-book access to what is going on in the classroom. But these academic transparency laws aren’t passed without fierce opposition.

“We’ve seen the teachers union apparatus, the public education bureaucrats, they don’t want sunlight,” Seyton explains.

They don’t want parents to know what their children are learning. And the reason they don’t wish to do that is that parents might voice outrage, and they might be upset. They might say I don’t want my child to be learning about this. We’ve seen them claim that this is a concerted effort to hurt teachers. None of that is true.

We know this because of the numerous laments of Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, America’s second-largest teachers union. In a recent speech, she claimed that “attacks on public education are not new. The difference today is that attacks are intended to destroy.” The attacks that she is referencing are the recent expansions of school choice in more than half of our states, academic transparency laws like those being written by the Goldwater Institute, and parents demanding that they should have the paramount choice in how their child is educated.

In fact, Randi Weingarten’s speech on March 28, 2023, should testify to conservatives that there is hope for education in that she is so fearful that she and her mostly left-leaning union members are losing their unfettered control of the classroom.

School Choice

In her speech, she worryingly shares the rising statistics on school choice laws:

This year alone, 29 state legislatures are considering bills to either create or expand school voucher programs. This is on top of the 72 voucher and tax credit programs in 33 states already subsidizing private and homeschooling, costing billions every year.

The Goldwater Institute is a thorn in the teachers union side because they are behind the most sweeping school choice legislation in the nation, with the most recent school choice laws passed in Arizona with other states like Florida replicating their generous policies.

Our vision with academic transparency is that it works in tandem with school choice. We have been leading the nation on school choice. More than a decade ago, Goldwater Institute had the idea of education savings accounts. For every child that goes to a public school, money is getting spent on that child’s education. What if we took that money and you gave it to the parents and said look, you can do with this whatever you want in terms of educating your child the way that you think is best according to that child’s needs? We expanded the states school voucher program to every student in Arizona, more than a million students, and what is making it even better is that since we passed that law in Arizona, we have then gone and passed universal ESA’s in 4 more states, Iowa, Utah, Arkansas, and Florida.”

How does school choice work with academic transparency?

The end goal is that every parent knows exactly what their child will learn before deciding where they are going to send their child to school, and with school choice, they can make an informed decision about where they will educate their child.” In essence, according to Seyton’s logic, academic transparency laws will allow the parent to find the school that best fits their child and have the freedom and finances to enroll them in the school of their choice with school choice law.

In the next installment, we are seeing victories for education even in blue states.

Kali Fontanilla

Kali is serving as CRC’s Senior fellow, particularly focusing on topics related to K-12 public education. She has 15 years of experience as a credentialed educator working in public and…
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