Counselors have changed a lot since I was in school. Today, they are teaching lessons in the classroom alongside teachers, holding small group counseling circles, and implementing and developing curriculum. 

Their presence in the classroom doesn’t seem to be helping students academically. Test scores in Baldwin County show that roughly 34% of students are proficient in math, while only 59% are proficient in reading – a number that drops to 37% for high school students. Thus, I am perplexed as to why ALL children need counseling. In reality, ALL children must be proficient in reading, writing, and arithmetic. 

Because of this, I recently submitted an open records request to review the counseling curriculum used in Baldwin County’s public school classrooms. Rather than accept allegations and make assumptions, I wanted to see the curriculum for myself. 

Unfortunately, there is no current Baldwin County School District Comprehensive Counseling Guide for me to reference at this time. Additionally, the 2003 Alabama State Comprehensive Counseling Guide references the American School Counseling Association guidebook, a work littered with gender ideology and equity and diversity concepts. 

Baldwin County Public Schools' FY23 budget expenditures were $558 million. Its FY24 budget is $737 million. As a tax-paying citizen and the parent of a Baldwin County Student, I have valid concerns and reasons to request the curriculum to see what my child is learning in school. 

Yet when I recently requested the PATH/Peer to Peer/Peer Helper/Thriveway curriculum, the Board “question[ed] the propriety of [my] request.”

“Your letter failed to provide any reason for the request, and the Board’s position is that there is no justification on the face of your request which would satisfy the foregoing requirement,” the response continued. The Board’s response also claimed that some curriculum I requested “may be confidential and copyrighted.”

Confidental? Copyrighted? I’m no lawyer, but a quick Google search revealed 20 U.S.C. § 1232h, which says: “Federal law requires that parents be allowed to inspect, upon request, any instructional material used as part of the educational curriculum for the student. … This policy enhances parents' rights to review instructional materials.” 

I would also argue that the Peer to Peer/Thriveway/Peer Helper program curriculum falls under Fair Use copyright law, which permits limited use of copyrighted material without acquiring permission from the rights holders. If something is used for educational purposes, it is Fair Use and can be used “for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research,” U.S. Law says. So why can you teach this curriculum to children, but not allow me to see it?

As a mother of three children on earth and one in heaven, I consider myself an expert on grief when it comes to children and families. I would never attempt to address these heavy topics with children while leaving out Jesus and their parents. Yet that seems to be exactly what’s happening in the public schools today.

If a child needs counseling services and their parent agrees to allow the school to provide those, great. But that’s not what I am writing about. I am writing about the rest of the children, sitting in the classroom, getting instruction, and also getting pulled out for small group counseling. Parents don’t know what their children are being taught in these counseling sessions or the classroom, nor do school counselors always know the child’s background and how their instruction will affect the child. Furthermore, there are plenty of well-adjusted children who do not know about such topics as suicide, anxiety, and depression, and school is not the appropriate place to introduce them. That is a home discussion.

I have many questions about this curriculum, which could easily be answered if you honored my request. The fact that you won’t is interesting, particularly since your own website stresses the importance of parental involvement, citing research that “students with involved parents are more likely to have higher grades and test scores, attend school regularly, have better social skills, show improved behavior, and adapt well to school.”

I implore you to allow the parents to review such sensitive material addressing suicide, depression, anxiety, and mental health. After all, we are the parents, and parental involvement and a parent’s right to know what is happening during those six-plus hours at school is critical to the well-being of our children. We do not need you to agree, they are not your children, they are ours.

Faithfully,

Rebecca Watson
Moms for Liberty Baldwin County
Chapter Chair

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