Education policy has been under a microscope in Pennsylvania’s midterm elections, with Republican candidates in races up and down the ballot vowing to weed out controversial topics from school curriculums and promote policies that increase transparency surrounding what students are learning.
Like many other candidates in the state’s race for governor, gubernatorial hopeful Lou Barletta is making education a focal point of his campaign, promising to support measures that increase curriculum transparency and give more power to parents.
In a recent interview, Barletta also expressed major concerns with the availability of books in Chester County schools that allegedly depicted sexual acts. Barletta said he would prohibit sexually explicit material that is not age appropriate from being available in schools if elected governor.
“This is something that should be talked about between parents and their child. I don't want some unknown school teacher talking to my children or grandchildren about their sexuality – that's not their place,” he told City & State.
“I'm gonna put an end to this under my administration. This is not going to happen. I think it's wrong and parents need to know what's being taught to their children,” he said. “They have the right to look at their texts. They have the right to look at the curriculum.”
Barletta added that sex education should largely be left to parents and guardians. “I think it should be between parents and their kids because the parents don't know what that teacher is telling their child,” he said.Amid nationwide conversations about the teaching of race, sex and gender in schools, state lawmakers have already advanced legislation that would have required schools to make all curriculum materials available for review on a school’s public website.
The bill was ultimately vetoed by Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, who said the legislation was a “thinly veiled attempt to restrict truthful instruction and censor content reflecting various cultures, identities and experiences.”
Wolf also said that state regulations already require schools to provide parents and guardians with information about textbooks and other curriculum materials upon request, and added that the legislation would be “duplicative” and “overly burdensome.”
Barletta, however, said he would sign the legislation if voters send him to Harrisburg. “I want parents to be able to look at the curriculum,” he said. “They're gonna have the right to the notification of school curriculum, right to complete information of textbooks and teaching materials. They will have the right to be notified when lessons deviate from the written public curriculum.”
Barletta is currently one of the leading candidates in Pennsylvania’s race for governor, with the former congressman routinely appearing as one of the top two candidates in polling conducted on the race.
A poll from The Trafalgar Group released on Monday has Barletta in second place, following 10 points behind state Sen. Doug Mastriano, who led the poll with support from 27.6% of likely Republican voters. Businessman Dave White and former U.S. attorney Bill McSwain came in third and fourth with 15.1% and 14.4%, respectively.
Barletta said he is proud of how his campaign has fared to date, and that he “couldn’t be happier.”