Bill that addresses ‘non-approved’ teaching materials in classrooms raises questions

Feb 10, 2022, 7:14 PM
school board immigration RISE tests...
Photo: Getty Images

SALT LAKE CITY — Does it empower teachers, or micro-manage them?  Another education bill being proposed this legislative session is raising eyebrows among teachers, with some believing it would interfere with their lessons and teaching materials.  However, the bill’s sponsor says that’s not what it does. 

Teaching materials

Teachers say they need to be flexible while leading their classrooms.  They might have their lesson plan mapped out, but the students may take their discussion to an unexpected place. And instructors may need to use other materials like videos and articles to teach that lesson. However, some of those things may not be pre-approved for academic use.  Senate Bill 114 requires that school boards make a process to approve new instructional materials for classroom use, plus they would have to give teachers better guidance on how to use those non-approved items.

Like other bills being proposed this year, SB 114 is coming under fire from educators.  The Utah Science Teachers Association issued a statement saying it’s one of a handful of bills that undermine the credibility of educators, undermine the depth of student learning and misrepresents teaching as “a collection of deliverables.”

Salt Lake Education Association President James Tobler says, between the pandemic and the 2022 legislative session, a lot of teachers feel beat up.

He said, “I’ve heard from a lot of people, saying, ‘I’m so glad this is my last year.  I’m done, and I’m out.”

According to Tobler, there are roughly 200 open positions within the Salt Lake City School District.  He says some faculty members have been asked to step in as substitutes. And some teachers have been asked to clean their own classrooms.  He believes adding more restrictions on teachers would push them over the edge.

“If we have to get approval to use material ahead of time, that’s going to be a dagger into the teaching profession and you are going to see people resign,” he said.

Bill’s sponsor says teachers wouldn’t need pre-approval

Would SB 114 require teachers to get all their last-minute teaching materials approved before they could use them?  The bill’s sponsor, Senator Lincoln Fillmore, is adamant in saying “no.”

Fillmore said, “Senate Bill 114 specifically exempts any material that a teacher chooses for use in their own class.  Those don’t need to be pre-approved by the board.”

As a former teacher, Fillmore says he understands educators need to be flexible and adapt to what they’re students need. That is why he says the bill would not “interfere” with their lesson plans.  He wrote the bill to try and make school districts more transparent in how new teaching tools could be approved.

“The district just needs to be transparent with its teachers about what its standards and expectations are,” he said.

Fillmore says what he doesn’t want is for teachers to show unapproved materials just to have their districts not support them.  For example, last December, teachers in Cache County showed a music video for the song “400 Years” during an anti-racism assembly.  After getting backlash from parents, Sky View High School Principal issued an apology, saying the video was “more divisive than unifying as it relates to race.”

Read more:

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Today’s Top Stories

Education + Schools

Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin spoke on Capitol Hill on March 29 in support of the Access to AED...
Carma Hassan, CNN

This life-saving medical device isn’t required at all schools. Damar Hamlin wants to help change that

Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin said Wednesday that when he played football as a child, he never thought about CPR or where there might be an automated external defibrillator (AED) nearby.
7 hours ago
ogden high school pictured, it was a victim of a utah school shooting hoax...
Adam Small

Ogden High School community reacts to active shooter hoax

Ogden High School was one of several schools that got a call about an active shooter, leading law enforcement to lock the school down.
1 day ago
Granite School District pictured...
Samantha Herrera

Granite School District says it’s prepared in case of an active shooter

Granite School District's chief of staff says he is confident that officers with the school would have a quick and efficient response to an active shooter scenario.
1 day ago
Several schools were placed on lockdown Wednesday morning after a series of hoax calls reported an ...
Samantha Herrera

Multiple Utah schools received fake reports of school shooting, officials say

Several schools in Utah were the victims of fake school shooting reports Wednesday morning. Schools in other states reportedly faced a similar hoax.
1 day ago
As the doors of five elementary schools in Alpine School District may be closing for good at the en...
Logan Stefanich

Alpine School District exploring potential closure of 5 elementary schools

Because of expected school closures, parents at a Tuesday meeting expressed fears about their children's educational future.
1 day ago
Six people were killed at a small, private Christian school just south of downtown Nashville on Mon...
Associated Press

What we know about the Covenant school shooting in Nashville

Police say the shooting took place over about 14 minutes. The shooter, Audrey Hale was a former student. She is also dead.
2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Cheerful young woman writing an assignment while sitting at desk between two classmates during clas...
BYU EMBA at the Marriott School of Business

Hear it Firsthand: 6 Students Share Their Executive MBA Experience at BYU’s Marriott School of Business

The Executive MBA program at BYU offers great opportunities. Hear experiences straight from students enrolled in the program.
Skier being towed by a rider on a horse. Skijoring....
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Looking for a new winter activity? Try skijoring in Bear Lake

Skijoring is when someone on skis is pulled by a horse, dog, animal, or motor vehicle. The driver leads the skiers through an obstacle course over jumps, hoops, and gates.
Banner with Cervical Cancer Awareness Realistic Ribbon...
Intermountain Health

Five common causes of Cervical Cancer – and what you can do to lower your risk

January is National Cervical Cancer Awareness month and cancer experts at Intermountain Health are working to educate women about cervical cancer.
Kid holding a cisco fish at winterfest...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Get ready for fun at the 2023 Bear Lake Monster Winterfest

The Bear Lake Monster Winterfest is an annual weekend event jam-packed full of fun activities the whole family can enjoy.
happy friends with sparklers at christmas dinner...

15 easy Christmas dinner ideas

We’ve scoured the web for you and narrowed down a few of our favorite Christmas dinner ideas to make your planning easy.
Spicy Homemade Loaded Taters Tots...

5 Game Day Snacks for the Whole Family (with recipes!)

Try these game day snacks to make watching football at home with your family feel like a special occasion. 
Bill that addresses ‘non-approved’ teaching materials in classrooms raises questions