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Manitowoc school board proposes policy change on how teachers can speak about controversial topics in class

Posted at 10:57 AM, Aug 25, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-27 17:08:01-04

MANITOWOC, Wis. (NBC 26) — On Wednesday night, the Manitowoc school board discussed how teachers can speak about controversial issues to their students.

Now, there's a proposed policy change. The Curriculum Committee presented its first draft of revisions to the rest of the board.

Some of the key changes talked about at the meeting include requirements like "does not indoctrinate or persuade students to a particular point of view" and "does not cause a disruption in the school environment." The current policy states "does not tend to indoctrinate..."

"This policy specifically is centered around controversial issues," board member Tony Vlastelica said. "As defined in the [proposed] policy, that includes anything related to political, social, economic or religious topics that may come up in the classroom."

The board members we spoke with don't represent the entire board, but Matthew Phipps also tells us teachers would still be allowed to voice their opinions if it involves approved curriculum.

He says the policy revisions were proposed because some board members are hearing from parents who are concerned. Phipps says it's all about a focus on student achievement, and he believes the controversial issues could be a distraction in the classroom.

Curriculum Committee Chairperson Kathy Willis voted against the initial revisions. She says teachers should be allowed to voice their opinions when they deem it appropriate.

The revised policy will be on another meeting agenda for a final vote. The full draft is not yet available for public view.

Thecurrent policy in the Manitowoc school district has been around since 2008.