Parents raise concerns over Facebook-made curriculum

Posted at 3:10 PM, Dec 08, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-08 15:10:53-05

Cheshire, Connecticut (WFSB) — A Facebook-made curriculum is causing controversy in one Connecticut town.

Cheshire is the first in the state to adopt the “Summit Learning Platform,” and it’s getting some backlash.

The eyes of the state are on Cheshire as this type of learning spreads throughout the country.

Parents are upset about nearly every aspect of this program. They say teachers’ roles are diminished, there’s too much computer time, and it’s too hard.

“Kids who are like 11 years old are being parked in front of computers and being asked to teach themselves,” said Heidi Wildstein, of Cheshire.

Her son goes to Doolittle School in Cheshire and he used to like going, but now her sixth-grader dreads it.

“They’re nervous and scared about failing another assessment. These are kids, who previously, have been very successful in school,” Wildstein said.

She said it’s because of the new curriculum rolled out this year, which is near and dear to the heart of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.

When he announced he would give away a huge chunk of Facebook shares to charity, this endeavor was one of the recipients and Facebook makes the software.

In Cheshire, students from fifth through seventh grades are using the programs in subjects like math, science, and social studies.

Assistant Superintendent Shawn Parkhurst explained at a Board of Education meeting on Thursday evening how it’s different from a traditional classroom.

“In a traditional classroom, learning starts and ends at a certain time. Time becomes the variable in this component. Different students are able to have support or enrichment along that can continue throughout the year,” Parkhurst said.

Wildstein says children simply aren’t adjusting well.

“They’re not feeling like it’s a positive learning environment, it’s becoming a negative learning environment,” Wildstein said.

She’s not the only one who feels this way.

Hundreds of Cheshire parents have signed a petition asking the district to suspend summit and dozens turned out tonight to make that appeal in person.

Officials promise to address concerns and continue to work with teachers to get them familiar with the software, but right now, they say Summit isn’t going anywhere.