Parents who are concerned about the increasingly ideological content of public school education just suffered a blow in Michigan, with a court ruling to protect teachers from outside scrutiny.
The judge ruled that course materials in Michigan schools are not “public records” under the Freedom of Information Act, the Daily Caller reported.
Court ruling on school transparency
The case was brought by a concerned parent in Rochester Community School District who had sought information about a class on the History of Ethnic and Gender Studies.
The Mackinac Center Legal Foundation, which represented the parent, wrote that she “has been stymied in her attempts to lawfully obtain records relating to the District’s curriculum, training materials, and other related records” in a lawsuit.
But Judge Jacob James Cunningham, of the Oakland County Circuit Court, ruled this month that Michigan law does not define teachers as “public bodies” subject to oversight under the state’s Freedom of Information Act.
“Additionally, since the court finds public school teachers are not ‘public bodies,’ therefore their papers and work product are not ‘public records’ under FOIA.”
Conservative activist Trent England, founder of the group Save Our States, accused the judge of doing the “dirty work” of ideologues in public schools whose activities many parents were unaware of prior to remote learning during the COVID pandemic.
“It’s no surprise school administrators are fighting to get back into the shadows. But it’s disappointing that a judge would do their dirty work,” England said.
The Mackinac Center warned the ruling would limit transparency across government institutions, leaving parents in the dark about their children’s education.
“We are disappointed with the Court’s decision, which drastically weakens transparency in Michigan’s schools and could have severe implications for transparency efforts across the state,” Steve Delie, director of transparency and open government at the Mackinac Center, said.
“Parents deserve to know what their children are being taught, and this decision will only make that more difficult.”
Battle over schools
Republican legislators have worked across the country to promote transparency in schools, citing public concern with the spread of racist, anti-white critical race theory and age-inappropriate sexual material billed as LGBT-“inclusive” education.
The left has broadly asserted that these ideologies are not taught in public schools, a demonstrably false claim, while portraying pushback as tantamount to Nazi book-burning.
A movement to reclaim school boards controlled by the left has seen mixed results.