School District Under Fire for Asking Parents To Vow Not To Sit In on Children’s Online Learning

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A school district in Tennessee is facing criticism after parents were asked to refrain from listening in during their children’s online classroom instruction.

Rutherford County Schools in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, had asked parents to sign a form agreeing to give teachers privacy with students, according to Fox News.

The district soon came under fire, Fox reported, and retracted its stance asking parents not to listen to what their children were being told during virtual classes.

Parents are now no longer being asked to stay away from participating in the educational experience of their children.

“We are aware of the concern that has been raised about this distance-learning letter that was sent to parents,” school district communications director James Evans told Fox News.

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“We have issued new guidance to principles that parents can assist their children during virtual group lessons with permission of the instructor but should refrain from sharing or recordings any information about other students in the classroom,” Evans added.

Roughly 20,000 of the district’s 48,000 students are learning from home, according to WZTV.

The controversial letter asking parents not to listen in on those home-learning lessons is the second time in recent days where educators have asked for privacy while speaking with kids who are at home.

On Aug. 8, a Pennsylvania teacher named Matthew R. Kay complained online with other teachers that distance learning would prevent him from speaking to kids about subjects such as diversity, gender and sexuality.

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“So, this fall, virtual class discussions will have many potential spectators — parents, siblings, etc. — in the same room. We’ll never be quite sure who is overhearing the discourse. What does this do for our equity/inclusion work?” Kay wrote on Twitter.

“How much have students depended on the (somewhat) secure barriers of our physical classrooms to encourage vulnerability? How many of us have installed some version of ‘what happens here stays here’ to help this?” he continued.

“While conversations about race are in my wheelhouse, and remain a concern in this no-walls environment – I am most intrigued by the damage that ‘helicopter/snowplow’ parents can do in honest conversations about gender/sexuality…”

Kay added his chief concern was “conservative” parents overhearing his discussions with their children.

Other teachers also shared Kay’s viewpoint, and complained that virtual learning would hinder their ability to discuss social issues with kids.

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One teacher who chimed in on Kay’s now-private post, which is archived here, wrote, “In my district, we already had a (white) parent record their child’s Zoom meeting and file a complaint against the teacher for an anti-racist read aloud (saying the teacher’s commentary was inappropriate and biased). It’s going to be an issue for sure.”

Another self-described teacher added to the discussion, “I’m also worried about kids who are out at school but not at home.

“What happens when another parent hears them referred to by their preferred name/pronouns and shares with the parents?”

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