Lawmakers pass bill requiring complaints by parents be reviewed, posted by State Office of Education

Published: Friday, March 14 2014 6:22 a.m. MDT

A bill requiring a parent review committee to field complaints on curriculum was narrowly approved by lawmakers in the final minutes of the 2014 legislative session.

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SALT LAKE CITY — By a single vote in the final minutes of the 2014 legislative session, Utah lawmakers approved a bill requiring a committee of parents to review complaints related to school curriculum and instructional materials and publish a report of those complaints online.

Rep. Brad Dee, R-Ogden, cast the deciding vote in favor of SB257, after the bill's House sponsor, Rep. Greg Hughes, R-Draper, issued a call of the House to break a tie.

The bill calls for a committee of parents commissioned to review the state's computer adaptive testing system to now be charged with a review of parent complaints related to curriculum.

The bill is in response to lingering angst over the state's adoption of the Common Core State Standards, a series of academic benchmarks that describe the minimum skills a student should learn in each grade.

"We have nothing to hide. We have nothing to fear," Hughes said.

But some lawmakers questioned the burden the bill places on the review committee and the State Office of Education, which will be required to review and publish a report on any complaint, issued by any parent in Utah, on any subject, book, test, lesson or other curriculum material.

Rep. Patrice Arent, R-Millcreek, said the potential ramifications of the bill, which provides no funding, was overly broad to be considered at 20 minutes to midnight on the final night of the session.

"I'm a little overwhelmed by this," Arent said. "This could be a very significant amount of time."

Hughes said the review committee's work on the computer adaptive testing system has already proven beneficial to calm fears and suspicions regarding alleged biases in those test materials. He said by allowing a formal review on curriculum-related complaints, the state would be able to move beyond speculation and rumor regarding the Common Core and allow for parents to have confidence in schools.

The bill was approved earlier this week by the Senate in a 24-2 vote. It will now go before Gov. Gary Herbert for his signature.

Email: benwood@deseretnews.com

Twitter: bjaminwood

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