Concerns expressed over proposed new course for AHS

A proposed new course for Alpena High School has raised concerns from at least a couple of school board members.

The project based learning course is called Perspectives of Democracy and would be rolled out to 11th grade students during the 2021-22 school year. It would integrate elements of both social studies and English.

A course description reads, “…students will have a deeper understanding of democracy, not only how it works, but why, and what it means to be an American citizen in today’s world.”

Two teachers behind the proposal would work with an instructional coach to design the course if it is first approved by the board of education. That doesn’t sit well with school board member Eric Lawson who said during a board curriculum and technology committee meeting this week, that he can’t support the course without having some details of its content. “I have grave, grave concerns that we would offer a course that would hold our constitution so controversial that it would be left out of the course title,” said Lawson, referring to a change that was made to the name of the course.

Board member Stacey Parr also expressed some concerns with the course. Board president Gordon Snow said he fully supports it.

Meaghan Gauthier, Assistant Superintendent for K-12 Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment explained that teachers won’t invest their time into developing the course only to have it struck down by the board, which is why they seek approval first.

Gauthier noted that that one or more teachers who were asked to review the course also expressed concerns, although they were not political in nature and did not have to do with content.

The committee is expected to receive additional information about the course before it heads to the full board for a vote. In addition, board members would receive updates as the course development process proceeds.