A Teacher’s Perspective: HB 2331 likely to force good teachers out of schools

A Teacher’s Perspective: HB 2331 likely to force good teachers out of schools

*Guest post by CLW Member and Washington Public School Teacher

I want to start out this column by first saying that I am supportive of good teachers. I acknowledge all the awesome teachers in WA and around the country who are doing their best to try and give students in their classes a great education when the higher ups who have not been in the classroom in years are dictating how and what these good teachers are supposed to teach to their students. Most of these teachers, myself included, have been teaching 10, 15, 20+ years and have witnessed the decline of our educational system, especially in the last 5 or so years. Hence, why the public is seeing declining test scores across the state and country right now. These good teachers know that the new policies and procedures enacted by the State and forced onto local districts by the power of the purse aren’t effective.

So, that takes me to WA State HB 2331. The first part of the bill states in Section 1, “(1)(a) Except as provided otherwise by this section, a school district board of directors may not refuse to approve, or prohibit the use of, any textbook, instructional material, supplemental instructional material, or other curriculum for student instruction on the basis that it relates to or includes the study of the role and contributions of any individual or group who is part of a protected class as established in RCW 28A.642.010 and 28A.640.010.” What does this even mean? To start off, it takes away local autonomy from communities in WA state to make recommendations about curriculum they want in their schools. We know the values and desired educational goals may vary greatly between urban and rural communities, but HB 2331 requires that all school districts adhere to this new requirement.

The next question I ask myself, who is a part of these protected classes? According to RCW 28A.642.010, it states, “Discrimination in Washington public schools on the basis of race, creed, religion, color, national origin, honorably discharged veteran or military status, sexual orientation including gender expression or identity, the presence of any sensory, mental, or physical disability, or the use of a trained dog guide or service animal by a person with a disability is prohibited…” So that means that school districts can no longer say no to books that may have to do with controversial topics like gender identity because that is considered a protected class. Let’s outline another hypothetical. Let’s say an elementary school teacher decides they want to introduce “supplemental instructional material” in the form of the now infamous book Gender Queer, by Maia Kobabe, to their 3rd grade class. This book includes graphic depictions of masturbation, sex toys, blow jobs, and chest binding.


Well, the school board and/or administration would no longer be allowed to restrict a 3rd grade teacher with an agenda from using the book as the “supplemental instructional material” because it includes a protected class based on gender identity and sexual orientation. While this type of scenario may seem completely implausible to include such a book as supplemental instructional material, a teacher would merely need to link the book to a “wellness” curriculum. We only need to look to the Salem Keizer School District of Oregon in 2022 to find a real-world example in which the School District decided to keep the book in the middle school library system as it included “topics touched on in wellness.”

HB 2331 is clearly another power grab by the State and OSPI to rigidly enforce their desired curriculum and weaken autonomy at both the classroom and school district levels. This opens the door to any instructional material, books, etc. that could be deemed inappropriate in schools. Remember, what I said earlier about good teachers? We are the ones who would not even consider bringing books into the classroom that have inappropriate content and/or aren’t grade level appropriate. But with this new law, teachers would be required to implement grossly inappropriate content even if their local administration and school board agreed for fear of breaking the law. HB 2331 does set forth guidelines if parents want to challenge the instructional materials that their children are exposed to, but all those requests must be in writing sent to the librarian or teacher and the principal. I actually appreciate that this bill is acknowledging that parents may have a problem with certain material, but if the state already knows that parents might take issue with these instructional materials, why would they even consider a bill like this? Makes one wonder.

So, to wrap up this column, is WA State HB 2331 something citizens of Washington should be concerned about? Absolutely! The many entities that govern public education in this state are stripping what little remaining power school boards have over student curriculum and could take this potential new law and utilize it in a way that is inappropriate and frankly unsafe for the children. Please continue to pray and think about the good teachers out there fighting the good fight. We are trying our darndest to do the right thing for students in our classrooms, but it keeps getting harder and harder. I see good teachers leaving the profession at an increasing rate and the question everyone should ask themselves is who is left to teach the next generation of children?

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