Sunday, June 05, 2005

The Times Summarizes the Situation

The Times has a nice summary of the MCPS sex-ed situation this morning.
Montgomery County parents are seeking to gain more influence over how public schools teach their children about sex by applying for advisory committees, and are working on long-term strategies for activism.

"We see our little organization continuing to grow and addressing issues maybe in a broader range, maybe in the state level," said Michelle Turner, a parent and president of Citizens for a Responsible Curriculum (CRC), which won a federal lawsuit against the school system's new sex-education course.

"If we can have success here, and some of these issues we have concerns about are coming from the state Board of Education, then maybe we need to take a look at what's happening there." Montgomery parents seek more say on sex education

We at know that there is a danger that groups like (Ex-)Recall spread out to other issues. CRC starts in the schools, demanding that the public schools ignore hugely important aspects of human sexuality that challenge certain cherry-picked Biblical values. Other groups start elsewhere, in science and research, for instance, "cleaning up" any theoretical or methodological features that might not meet a puritanical standard, or in families' private health decisions. Our particular battleground is the public classroom, where not only sex-ed but biology is under attack, in the form of teaching nonscientific theories, literature is under attack as good books by minority authors are removed from the classroom, history is under attack as facts are edited, moved, and removed.
The school system is required by law to set up the committee. But school officials have said they intend to "reconstitute" it, which means all aspects of the panel -- number of members, length of terms, amount of influence -- are subject to change.

"We'll be watching the whole process very carefully," said Jim Kennedy, a parent and co-founder of (TTF), which supported the curriculum.

Several parents from TTF and CRC have applied for positions on the committee.

Applicants for openings on the previous citizens committee have received letters thanking them, and telling them that their names will be retained when the new committee is formed. It is all very vague, as this article makes clear, and no one seems to know what is going to happen next.
School officials could not say who is eligible for the new panel. However, the committee likely will play a less significant role.

The school board has tasked Superintendent Jerry D. Weast with developing the new course and voted that "the new Revisions shall be developed by professional educators within MCPS and consultants, appointed by the superintendent."

The new revisions will be given to the citizens advisory committee "for review and consultation, to the degree deemed appropriate by the superintendent," the board decided.

TTF is hoping that the public school system doesn't intend to make any substantive changes to the course.

"They didn't say they would do it any different. They just said they would do it over again," said Mr. Kennedy. "The school district is taking back the power."

But we don't know what the lawyers are talking about -- that's the great mystery here. Who knows what deals they're dreaming up?
But Mrs. Turner said she is worried that the schools are trying to disentangle themselves from negotiations with CRC and Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays (PFOX), the group that joined the lawsuit against the curriculum.

"While the board is obviously feeling the heat from parents ... we feel it is trying to do an end-run around the suit," Mrs. Turner said.

"In its public statements, the board claims absolute authority over the curriculum. Nowhere does it state a willingness to come together with us parents to make sure the curriculum meets community standards."

The schools had better not negotiate with CRC and PFOX, that's all I have to say. They have no favored status in curriculum development, and are simply a special interest group, like the Flat Earth Society would be in designing a Geology course.

This "parents" thing could be an Achilles heel for CRC, y'know. For one thing, they are not mostly a group of MCPS parents. Lots of white hair at their meetings, lots of older folks, lots of home-schoolers and private-schoolers. For another thing,parents in Montgomery County do not agree with them. MC parents are liberal by a long shot. There may be some uneasiness about homosexuality, but we are not a county of haters. CRC's approach, that's it's all so terribly sinful and immoral, just won't fly here. So it they want "parents" to be involved in the process, they will be cutting their own throats.

And I do love the "end run around the suit" comment. The suit itself was an end-run around the wishes of the people of Montgomery County. CRC/PFOX/Liberty Counsel established the precedent of end-runs. I hope MCPS has a successful end-run around the lawsuit. It would mean the taxpayers' lawyers are doing their job.

And as far as community standards, is happy with that. The new curriculum did meet community standards. It didn't meet the standards of certain religious extremists. CRC had better watch out what they wish for.
Montgomery County Board of Education President Patricia O'Neill said the lawsuit brought by CRC and PFOX was the reason she voted to scrap the course.

"We're no less committed to moving forward on the issue of sexual variations," she said.

Stephen Abrams, the lone Republican on the school board, said it was "clear" that the school board's adoption of Mr. Weast's resolution means that the new curriculum will be constructed "within the professional component of the system, instead of as a negotiation between outside groups."

The resolution states that the school system "retains the sole right and responsibility for determining the content of all curriculum."

Yes, Mr. Abrams agrees that the curriculum should not be the result of negotiation with extremists.

The school board is responsible for what happens next, and the school board is elected by the people. CRC is not "the people," but a tiny noisy minority. The citizens here want a fair and objective treatment of homosexuality and an informative presentation to teens about how to best avoid unwanted pregnancy and sexually-transmitted disease, and it appears the school board intends to give it to them.

And we support that.


Blogger Kay2898 said...

What Michelle Turner says that CRC-Recall will do as her ending line to her audio interview with fellow CRC-Recall member Tony Castellano.....(You know the interview where CRC-Recall members interview each other)

"......being an organization here in the county that truly will provide safe schools for safe students...."


Now what they heck does Michelle Turner from what...homosexuals and condoms???????????

We could all think of other things CRC-Recall could do to support things that would help render schools safer and the students in them as well.

Kay R

June 05, 2005 11:05 AM  

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