Curriculum Controversy in Abington Heights School District

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(WBRE/WYOU) — Controversy is brewing in one Lackawanna County school district as parents and school board members worry the latest core learning approach being tested in classrooms — too intense.

Two curriculums are wrapping up test runs in the Abington Heights School District and one of them has parents on edge.

Abington Heights has been implementing new language and reading curriculum for the first quarter of the 2019-2020 school year. But some parents say the curriculum, both EL Learning and Whit and Wisdom, are too advanced for most elementary students. Parents say the texts are too complex and in some cases, too politically charged for young students.

“These children are being indoctrinated in a way that talks about very political issues,” one parent said.

“It’s not necessary. You want to talk about it, then I’ll talk about it around the dinner table with my kids,” another parent said.

“You know, there are curriculums out there that integrate everything in a more age-appropriate manner,” said another.

One board member echoed the parents’ opinions and believes the school needs to reconsider the course.

“If around the nation, they’re using programs like this, that would explain the need for all the emotional support and all these kids having all these emotional issues developing from learning all this stuff in elementary school. I’m just livid,” board president Louise Brzuchalski said.

But others on the board are more optimistic about the experimental curriculums. Besides, they say both courses are only in the testing phase.

“Both of these programs are definitely reflective of the best, most absolute up-to-date and research-based practices in language arts instruction,” assistant superintendent Marc Wyandt said.

“We are not in a position to make a decision right now. We need to see this before we recommend it to the board to adopt,” superintendent Michael Mahon said.

There’s several other factors involved with the EL Learning curriculum that parents brought to the table, like an element of social and emotional component that should be learned at home. Much like the complexity of texts down into the elementary grades, the school board says they are part of growing requirements in all school districts around the country.

The test run of the two programs will wrap up by the end of Thanksgiving break and Abington Heights will have more open conversations with parents in the near future.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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