Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Had Offensive Parts Already Been Removed?

Judge Williams ruled against the school district for two reasons. I'll address them in separate posts. The first reason was that the "Establishment clause" of the Constitution was violated. In a nutshell, that means that the curriculum appeared to promote one religion over another. You saw the stuff in the paper, taken from the CRC/PFOX complaint and the judge's memorandum opinion. The quotes badmouth Baptists and say that Quakers and Unitarians are more tolerant of homosexuality, and stuff.

One of the quotes that the judge cited was actually from the curriculum, and it is highly defensible. Nobody would've won any court case based on those statements, it lists some facts and supports them -- even though it promotes the idea that gay people are not freaks, it would not have justified blocking the whole curriculum.

The most offensive quotes that were used came from three different teachers' resources -- none of them were to be presented in class, but everyone on both sides agrees this kind of thing doesn't belong anywhere in a public school classroom. Teachers have the right to read on the side, but MCPS really shouldn't be promoting any specific religious beliefs.

But were they?

All the offensive quotes came from three documents. These were
  • A report from the Planned Parenthood of Edmonton, Canada, called Sexual Orientation Myths
  • A web site by the Family Pride Coalition called Myths and Facts
  • , and
  • A document that was picked up, I believe, from Maricopa County Community College, in Arizona, and which is no longer on the web, and which was also titled "Myths and Facts"
These three documents were listed as teachers' resources in the Board of Education's Novermber 9th, 2004, report, detailing the proposed new curriculum.

As we all remember, however, revised documents appeared on the MCPS web site in the middle of April. We the public don't know when they became policy, but those documents (which you can read, linked on the righthand side of this page, since MCPS has taken them down from their site) were the curriculum. They listed the resources that would be used in the pilot testing. These were sometimes given as sources of definitions, and some were listed at the end of the outline as "content resources" and "activity resources."

By this time, the middle of April, the offensive resources had all been removed from the curriculum documentation. None of the three titles listed above are referred to in either the 8th or 10th grade curriculum Teachers Editions.

I have two thoughts about this. First of all, I am amazed at a judicial system that lets some complaining parties wave a bunch of literature around, and tell the judge that these things are "in the curriculum," and he believes it simply on faith. I observe that neither of the two Teachers Editions seem to have been offered into evidence, at least by the plaintiffs.

Second, you gotta wonder, and I hate to keep bringing this up, but you gotta wonder what the MCPS lawyers were thinking. Did they even know what was in the curriculum? Were they sitting around reading law books, or did it occur to them to mention to the judge -- "These materials did seem offensive to us, Yer Honor, and so our guys took 'em out last month. The plaintiffs have no case."

Did it occur to them?

Do I sound pessimistic? --I believe in this curriculum, it is the right thing to do, and we at have put a lot of effort into supporting it. The question now is whether Montgomery County's school board has the ... whatever school administrators have ... to stand up for a curriculum that corrects a lot of wrongs and leads our kids to a better understanding of human sexuality, or whether they will cave in, with a whimper.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Am I correct in understanding that the documents quoted in the Washington Post and by Judge Williams were NOT in the curriculum OR teacher resources? Or did I miss something?

May 11, 2005 10:16 AM  
Blogger JimK said...

I'm no lawyer, but it looks that way to me. They were in a November 9th 2004 board report, but were not included in the April revised editions -- posted weeks before the lawsuit was filed. Maybe there is some secret stash of documents that teachers are handed quietly on the sly -- but if you look at the revised teachers editions, you won't find any mention of them.

May 11, 2005 10:42 AM  
Blogger Isabel Manuela said...

Well, Jim, at this point, and for the sake of my mental health, and that of my own kids, I want to believe -yeah, because here it seems everything goes on faith- that the documents were still there, regardless of the fact that the revised edition shows me they were not...
Otherwise, I would have to use a few ugly epithets to the MCPS attorneys, and my religion forbids that. Like, if one is this stupid, one deserves to lose. Except that this issue is too important to be left to attorneys and judges.
And, then, Weast, and the BOE and everybody obeys a ruling over something that did not longer exist?????????????????? Who needs prosecutors with this kind of defense attorneys?

May 11, 2005 10:50 AM  
Anonymous Gleeful said...

Ok, so basically you all don't know what's in the reference materials.

Yet you have very strong opinions about it.

Let's see: Who would have a better idea of what was actually in the materials? Would it be a group of bloggers who get their information from reading the BOE website, where BOE is free to post bits and pieces? Or would it be the judge, who has the power to compel full disclosure?

May 11, 2005 11:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gosh, maybe I and the other parents who reviewed the curriculum might have a pretty good idea of what is in it.

Fact is, JimK is right. The stuff the plaintiffs complained about, the stuff the judge found offensive, wasn't in the April "teachers edition" of the curriculum that was "field tested" to real live actual students.

I know for a fact that the Grade 8 material posted on your website is in fact the April edition of the curriculum that was given to the teachers to be used in the schools. How do I know? I saw it, with my own eyes, in the school.

While the judge may "have the power to compel full disclosure," he sure didn't do so here.

May 11, 2005 12:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Checking around, it seems that the literature that was quoted by the judge is what's called "background resources." Apparently, there are "key resources" which are used in the curriculum, for instance definitions come from those, and "background resources," which are like extra reading or something. I am hearing that MCPS didn't really "remove" the background resources, but just didn't list them. What that means, I don't know. Were these shown to teachers? Were they recommended to teachers in another document? I hope MCPS will explain.

May 11, 2005 12:57 PM  
Anonymous Gleeful said...

If being one of the parents who reviewed the curriculum were a sufficient qualification, then the CRC seems to have a couple of members as well qualified as you are yet disagree.

The BOE stated that the reference materials were part of the curriculum. They did not state they had been removed. Some have surmised that they have been removed because of what was posted in April, but you don't really know because they haven't said one way or the other. Sound about right?

If all the objections were to the background material and the BOE doesn't mind removing them, then why didn't the BOE just drop them initially instead of forcing parents to take them to federal court?

May 11, 2005 1:53 PM  
Anonymous Bnonymous said...

Here's a guess: maybe they didn't guess that the complaint would be so trivial...?

Complaints about the content of the courses could be answered easily, and who would guess that they'd throw out the whole thing based on some materials that the students don't even see?

May 11, 2005 2:04 PM  
Blogger Kay2898 said...

Nobody forced "parents" to take them to court. Some parents and a host of outsiders did that.

Remember ExRecall (CRC) said they did it because BOE would not meet with them, etc....

John Garza for ExRecall(CRC)was quoted on 5/4 from Wash Times,

"It's not a curriculum to give kids knowledge. This curriculum is an indoctrination program,"

"It's setting forth a viewpoint on sex and homosexuality that goes beyond impartation of knowledge."

Kay R

May 11, 2005 2:10 PM  
Blogger Theresa said...

Correction, Kay -

A lot of parents. 700 on the CRC online petitions, 3500 from the signed petition. Most on the signed petition are Montgomery Residents... and since our online petition is visible on the web and does list the zip codes, you can go check it out. Amazing how many of the signatures start with 208xx, which is Montgomery County....pretty sure.

Unless you choose to believe that 700 people came to our web site, and made up zip codes ?

And CRC tried to get the BOE to meet with us, lots of times. They refused- even after we delivered 3500 signatures. We have asked publically at least 4 times. And we continue to ask.

May 11, 2005 2:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was curious, so I went to the CRC website and looked at some of those 700 online petition signers. I just looked at a page or two, but thought it useful to block and copy here some of the comments by the "signers:"

I love the new curriculum and as a health teacher at Seneca I think that all schools should use it starting in 6th grade.

You are all morons All I want to say is that this petition is one of the stupidest things I have ever read.

May 11, 2005 3:22 PM  
Blogger Theresa said...

Yep - every once in a while you get some of those...

I have probably had 10 or 15 out of the 700 we had to void.

I left the SV one up since he at least he wasn't rude...

You can go count how many line voided there were if you want...
Estimating 15 out of 700 that is 98% valid signatures. And lots of very valid comments.

May 11, 2005 3:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For a 'health teacher' at Seneca Valley you are quite unprofessional in your tone and choice of words. And furthermore, I am sure you would love to get this currciulum into the 6th grade as well -- that is the whole idea isn't it? Younger and younger...

May 11, 2005 3:41 PM  
Blogger Kay2898 said... opposed to citizens who live in county in favor and those who do not care....

Numbers displayed not too impressive.

Somehow somebody thought those "numbers" would get EXRecall (CRC) keys to the kingdom.

Kay R

May 11, 2005 3:42 PM  
Anonymous Gleeful said...

Trivial complaints?


No, it seems clear the Boards of Education don't want to meet with groups of parents who are going to criticize their actions because they would rather attempt to steamroll them. It didn't work this time.

And the idea that "students don't even see" those materials is ridiculous. Do you think that they were just there as interesting reading for the teachers? No, they are intended to repeat those statements to children.

At least the court injuction got Jim to post about the real issues instead of slurring the parents group all the time.

May 11, 2005 4:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Way to go Gleeful!

May 11, 2005 4:33 PM  

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