Charleston Co. School District’s curriculum sparks community concern

When a “curriculum review” was added to Monday night’s school board meeting agenda, it inspired many people both for and against EL Learning
Published: Feb. 13, 2023 at 11:27 PM EST|Updated: Feb. 14, 2023 at 3:40 PM EST
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Teachers, principals and parents in Charleston County Schools are raising concerns about a controversial curriculum – one that district officials say doesn’t need to be.

When a “curriculum review” was added to Monday night’s school board meeting agenda, it inspired many people both for and against EL Education-- the current language arts program in some Charleston County schools - to come forward.

Tara Wood, the chair of the Charleston chapter for Moms For Liberty, who is actively against EL Education, read teacher comments from a Charleston Teacher Alliance survey at the meeting.

“This is, so far, the worst reading curriculum that I have encountered in my 30 years of teaching,” Wood said, quoting the comments. “This curriculum, like some of you, will drive teachers out of their profession.”

The majority of those that spoke during public comment were for EL Education, like teacher, Della Taylor.

“This curriculum has exposed cultural awareness, respect and social and emotional development,” Taylor said. “And with these emphasis, the only theory that I have been exposed to is humanism.”

EL Education is a leading K-12 nonprofit partnered with diverse public schools and districts across the country. This is according to the official EL Education Curriculum website.

Leah Whatley, board member representing district 7, says the district implemented parts of EL Education in about 50 of their schools in the last three years. She says the reason they had “curriculum review” on their agenda was because it’s the time of year to prepare for the next school year calendar. She says because the curriculum is new, they want to see its effectiveness and if it should continue.

“This is the kind of stuff that breaks my heart about my community,” Whatley said. “And we’re at odds and I don’t think we need to be. Because we think. We understand where another person is coming from, but one thing that really stood out to me is that we don’t really understand where one another are coming from.”

EL Education provided this statement in response to their partnership with CCSD:

EL Education greatly values our partnership with Charleston County School District, and we are heartened to see nearly 50 CCSD parents, teachers, principals, students, and community leaders share powerfully about their positive experiences with the EL Education language arts curriculum. We applaud CCSD educators and students for their hard work to accomplish tremendous results with our curriculum, as indicated in impressive data on student growth. We are committed to continuing to support CCSD educators as they use the EL Education curriculum to help students achieve at higher levels in reading and writing and build important life skills.

Due to an agenda issue, the board only listened to public comment and did not take any action. Whatley says they will need to schedule a specially called board meeting before the next regularly scheduled meeting to go over what was originally planned.