Saturday, October 01, 2005

PTA Delegates Considering Resolution Against CRC

The Citizens for a Responsible Curriculum (CRC) is a group that opposes the teaching of safe-sex practices in Montgomery County sex education classes, and opposes teaching about sexual variation. Because they represent a tiny minority of Montgomery County citizens, they have to pull every trick they can think of, to have any impact at all.

Last year, shortly before the new health curriculum was going to be pilot-tested, the CRC sent letters to the families of eighth graders at Tilden Middle School, one of the schools where the curriculum was going to be tested, using the school's PTSA directory for address information. The letters, as would be expected, were full of distortions and were not appreciated by the parents who received them.

One of the CRC's officers has explained to a TeachTheFacts member how they laboriously transcribed all the names from the school's directory into a special database, to create the mailing list. Some CRC members deny that such a database exists, but ... this is not the place to get sidetracked listing all the things they've lied about. I don't know if they did this same thing at the other two schools that were scheduled for pilot-testing.

When this happened, the Tilden PTSA adopted a resolution demanding that CRC stop using the information inappropriately and return any copies of the directory that they have. The resolution formally listed the facts of the case, and demanded a prompt response, which of course never came.

The Montgomery County Council of PTAs (MCCPTA) Executive Board proposed a resolution on June 2 similar to Tilden's, telling to them to stop the inappropriate use of the directories and to return all copies of them.

With legal assistance, the Executive Board made some changes to the resolution in August and adopted it. Now it is scheduled to be voted on by the MCCPTA Delegates, a larger group comprising representatives from all county schools, in their October meeting.

Think about it. You're a solicitor or a pedophile or a religious nut and you've got a database of children in a neighborhood, just great. Think of all the ways that could be used. The directories serve an important purpose for the members of those communities, they aren't for mass-mailing by weirdos and business interests.

A web page of upcoming MCCPTA Delegates' projects mentions "Revisions to the proposed directory resolution" to be discussed at their October 25th meeting. That item links to two other web pages. The "proposed directory resolution" links to the original draft of the resolution from June 2nd. The word "Revisions" links to a revised version of that resolution.

If I'm reading the legalese correctly, this is the version that was approved by the Executive Board, and which will now be voted on in the Delegates' October 25th meeting (changes can be introduced at that time):
WHEREAS each school year the local PTA units of the Montgomery County Council of PTAs (MCCPTA) typically compile and publish student directories that include personal and potentially sensitive information such as the names, street addresses and telephone numbers of students whose parents have agreed to have such information included, and

WHEREAS by common knowledge and accepted practice these directories are intended exclusively for the private use of the PTA and the local PTA communities to facilitate communication within their communities, and are not intended to be used for any other purpose, and

WHEREAS it appears that an organization called the Citizens for Responsible Curriculum (CRC) has obtained copies of selected directories and used the information in these directories to develop a mailing list for a purpose inconsistent with the intended or appropriate use of the directories, and

WHEREAS this use of student directories by CRC in a manner inconsistent with the directories’ intended purpose has caused substantial concern among parents within the affected PTA communities, and

WHEREAS the PTAs in the affected communities are justifiably concerned that fears about potential future misuse of student directories could lead parents to withhold student directory information, thereby impairing a critical PTA asset,

NOW BE IT THEREFORE RESOLVED that the MCCPTA Executive Board expresses the sense of the Board that CRC has misused student directories and objects in the strongest terms to that misuse,

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the MCCPTA Executive Board requests that CRC cease using information obtained from PTA student directories, and to return to the affected PTAs all copies of their directory information now in the possession of CRC, in whatever form the information may exist.

(I edited some weird capitalization in this, I think I'm right and it didn't change the meaning of anything, but look at the original if you doubt it.)

It looks to me like CRC thinks they can win everything by suing people. Notice how they've given up their web presence. They slapped a new user-interface on the web page, but with the same outdated content. Their blog's been dormant more than two months. Their forum is rarely updated, with no discussion at all. Now and then one of them fires off some impulsive, inarticulate message to a listserve, and somebody from their group usually shows up at the school board's public comments sessions, but generally they're staying out of view.

That's because their public relations campaign has been a failure. The public doesn't like them. The more they speak out, the more people learn what a negative force they are, and how ignorant they are. They won't win a public debate, as they have no point to make that can possibly stand up in the light of reason. That's why they made the message board private, and that's why they never allowed comments on their blog -- they knew how repulsive it was to people who learned their true beliefs. At one point, we understand, they even told their members to stop commenting on our blog.

Even the county PTAs, who usually stay neutral in these things, are coming out against them.

It seems to me that the only thing the CRC can do is to use their Florida lawyers to attack the school district, using the expense of legal defense to force the district to do what they want, whether the public approves or not. Watch for that.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

This perfectly illustrates the CRCs delusions of grandeur. They act as if they think they can break man's law because they are doing God's work: forcing gay teens into the closet.

It's good to know that rational people are working to make sure they do not steal private contact information again. Identity theft is a real problem and if I were a parent who got one of these letters, I'd be speaking to private attorney to find out my legal rights to protect my child from this invasion of privacy.


October 03, 2005 12:57 PM  

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