Wolf vetoes school curriculum bill; signs nine others, including broadband authority, into law

By: - December 22, 2021 3:50 pm

Gov. Tom Wolf joined legislative leaders and education stakeholders at the state Capitol to celebrate the largest state funding increase for public school students in Pennsylvania history and the groundbreaking funding in the new Level Up initiative to provide an additional $100 million to the 100 lowest wealth school districts (Commonwealth Media Services photo).

Gov. Tom Wolf has vetoed a bill mandating schools to upload their curricula and lists of textbooks online for public access.

It had passed along party lines last week, during the Legislature’s last session week of 2021. Wolf ran his veto pen across the bill on Wednesday.

Curriculum transparency bill heads to Wolf’s desk, who opposes it

State law already requires public schools to allow parents and guardians access to their child’s curriculum, academic standards, instructional materials, and assessment techniques by request. 

But the proposal, Republican proponents said, was a simple transparency measure to make it easier for parents and the public to access curricula. Opponents countered that the bill was a culture war-tinged policy to enable ideological attacks on teachers’ lesson plans.

Wolf went with the latter interpretation, saying in his veto message that the bill was “a thinly veiled attempt to restrict truthful instruction and censor content reflecting various cultures, identities, and experiences.” 

It is his fifth veto of the year. He’s also vetoed an omnibus, GOP-written voting reform bill, a bill to eliminate concealed carry permits, and a bill banning public agencies, including schools, from checking someone’s vaccination status.

Wolf also signed nine other bills, including a proposal to set up a state broadband authority that unanimously passed the Legislature last week.

The authority will allow the state to receive hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funding to expand access to high speed internet in underserved communities, argued rural lawmakers.

General Assembly sends Wolf bill creating new Pa. broadband authority

“This is a great day for all of us who have been fighting for broadband access in the most rural areas of the Commonwealth,” state Rep. Tina Pickett, R-Susquehanna, said. 

Two of the bills also expanded eligibility for a state program that helps seniors afford prescription medications.

Wolf’s signatures mean that 100 bills have been signed into law this year. Of them, 19 named bridges or roads. That’s the largest proportion of Harrisburg’s output made up of naming laws in the past decade.

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Stephen Caruso
Stephen Caruso

Stephen Caruso is a former senior reporter with Pennsylvania Capital-Star. Before working with the Capital-Star he covered Pennsylvania state government for The PLS Reporter.