Decisions about a school’s curriculum must be based upon legitimate pedagogical concerns. On occasion, these concerns have included teaching material, classroom expression, or other matter criticized on the grounds of the following issues:
- Advocacy of political or similar matters
- Bias or prejudice
- Conformity or nonconformity to shared or community values
- Distracting from an educational atmosphere
- Inability to teach prescribed curriculum because of disagreements with course content
- Lack of neutrality on religious matters
- Quality or professionalism
- Sexually harassing speech
- Suitability or unsuitability for intended students
- Vulgarity, profanity, nudity, sexuality, drug use, violence or other inappropriate themes
The definition of “legitimate pedagogical concerns” may be outlined in state statutes or regulations. State Education Board policies also may be relevant.
An important consideration is the age, maturity, and sophistication of the students to which educational material is to be provided. A school’s oversight or authority over curriculum matters is greater where younger students are involved.
Schools need to identify pedagogical concerns before making decisions about a curriculum. Curricular decisions should not be made after a parent or someone else makes a complaint about ideological issues, and when there has been no pedagogical review. Such decisions are as suspect as the self-serving comments that attempt to justify those decisions made after the fact and not based on the previous record.