Parent Toolkit - Advocating for Quality Curriculum: Requesting Access to Curriculum Plans and Instructional Materials
As a parent, you have the right to request access to the curriculum and instructional materials. Parents often receive materials directly from the school through your child’s packet of information sent home throughout the year. As a parent, you also have the right to speak with your child’s teacher and principal. In addition, parents can request to see the materials used in their child’s classroom.
The school district website also provides additional details about meetings, trainings, and programs on diversity, equity, and inclusion. Through state freedom of information or sunshine laws, parents can request to see public records more formally. All trainings, programs, and curricula related to CRT or equity-based curricula can be requested. Once you receive the documents, you can share what you observed with parents and post them on social media.
By clicking the link above, choose the state the child attends school in and select “Sample Freedom Of Information Act request.” It will give you an outline, like below, that can formally request information from the school district.
How to Submit an Open Records Request:
Each state has its laws for record requests and open meeting requirements. Open Records laws detail the records, documents, and information of state agencies and local governments. Most freedom of information laws require that public records requests be made in writing. The National Freedom of Information Coalition is a great resource that provides information about individual state laws along with sample letters of request by state. All state agencies in government must disclose if requested. Your state may offer trainings and guides to educate citizens about the specific laws in their state, best practices for making requests, and resources for citizens when agencies fail to comply with requests. A list of additional resources about your state laws can be found here.
What to include in Public Records
- Identify the appropriate person to send the letter to.
- Be specific about what you are requesting but not overly narrow about the labels or terms you use. For example, schools may respond that they do not teach “critical race theory” if that exact phrase does not to appear in any course materials. However, if, in addition to “critical race theory,” you also list critical race theory scholars or topics like “curriculum materials that discuss systemic racism and disadvantages to meritocracy,” you are more likely to receive the information you are looking for. As another example, you can say, “materials used in teacher training from 2020-21 school year, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion materials for 2020-21 school year, outgoing and incoming emails from Mrs. Jones from January 1, 2020 – July 31, 2021.”
- Confirm receipt.
- Pay any fees.
- Follow-up with regular emails until it is received. Many Districts have legally mandated timelines to return your requests, and if they want more time, they need to state a reason. Be prepared to respond to any such requests. You can object or agree.