Fielding Punts

State Board of Education Chair Fielding Rolston wrote last week about Tennessee’s social studies standards in light of a “controversy” ginned up by the ACLJ and latched onto by state legislators like state Representative Andy Holt and state Senator Dolores Gresham.

What’s the problem? It seems teachers across Tennessee are indoctrinating their students with Islam.

Not really, of course. And Rolston goes into some detail about the Tennessee social studies standards, the process for creating them, and the upcoming review of those standards. The review process invites feedback from any citizen and includes Tennessee educators.

Then, he punts:

Local districts determine the curriculum and instruction, adapting what classroom instruction looks like for the students and teachers.

There are no State Board of Education requirements regarding the length of time to be devoted to any topic or guidelines on how that topic is taught in the classroom. 

It is always a local decision how long a particular topic is covered in the classroom and the textbooks and curriculum employed.

These statements, while accurately describing the process, also left a door open, and the ACLJ walked right through.

Now, local school boards are responding to broad, expensive to fulfill open records requests. Legal responses will be required.

Rolston suggests that while the state’s standards should be rigorous, a local district can spend less time on topics that may be the subject of the controversy of the day.

Tennessee’s social studies teachers might have appreciated a more vigorous defense.

For more on education politics and policy in Tennessee, follow @TNEdReport

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