Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Here They Go Again

I noticed this statement over at the CRC's forum, posted by "CRCPrecious":
Why are we continuing to spend time, money and effort to develop a "condom video" that is in direct conflict with the message of sexual abstinence, is contrary to the religious beliefs of many, and teaches a practice that does not provide safety and involves a minimal skill comparable to putting on ones socks to brushing ones teeth? Don't the schools have better things to teach the kids?

This just says so much.

It tells us, for one thing, that we can expect the CRC to continue to whine if the school district teaches students about safe sex. Which it will. The fact is, the schools already teach about safe sex and contraception, and there is already a condom video, it's just getting out of date. One survey after another shows that nobody really wants the "message of sexual abstinence" by itself; parents, even Red-State parents, understand that you have to give teenagers information. They can whine about it if it makes 'em feel better, but this is a done deal.

Ah, the use of condoms is "contrary to the religious beliefs of many." Good to hear that said out in the open. The people who are developing the new curriculum are doctors, they might not know, and they might not care, what every religion says about every little thing. Their goal is to address a public health problem, several of them really, mainly disease and unwanted pregnancy.

Listen, if you have religious beliefs about condoms, then don't use one. You have that choice. Parents, if you don't think teens should use condoms, then talk to them about it. Don't try to pretend that condoms don't exist. Trust me, if your kid's in tenth grade, he or she has already heard about these things. They're in the CVS, your kid has seen them on the rack, teenagers are acutely aware of them. So talk to your kid, tell them what you expect, tell them what your faith requires, tell them why they shouldn't use a condom. Then, if everything goes the way you hope, they'll know how to use it correctly, but they never will have to.

Because, really, it can't be against your religion to hear about condoms, can it?

CRCPrecious says it "teaches a practice that does not provide safety." Mmm, somebody, help me here. Does ... algebra provide safety? Does memorizing the capitals of all the states provide safety? Is this any kind of argument against teaching something?

But why would she say that in the first place? A condom stops the flow of semen and it also stops the passage of bacteria and viruses from one partner to the other. It can tear, it can fall off, but it's a lot better than nothing. There is not sufficiently robust epidemiological research to say one way or the other, beyond a reasonable doubt, that condoms work for this or that particular disease, but they work for preventing pregnancy, and they block the spread of AIDS, a significant amount of the time. And there is every reason to think they prevent other STDs, it's not that they don't work, it's that the research hasn't been conducted.

Perfect safety? --No, of course not. Worth using? Absolutely.

And you gotta love the "minimal skill" thing. If it's so obvious and easy, why are condoms 85 percent efffective with "ordinary use" and 98 percent effect with "perfect use?" There are lots of things you can do wrong.

And I have to admit, I have never brushed my teeth with a condom, but on first glance that's what I thought she was suggesting ... Ptooey!

(Oh, hey, a little tidbit of Americana here. Ladies, you might not know this, but in nearly every public men's room with a vending machine for condoms, some wit has written, "Don't buy this gum, it tastes like rubber.")

Seriously, you might remember that kids do need to be taught how to brush their teeth. It isn't something you're born doing, and there are lots of wrong ways to brush your teeth, too. In fact, her analogy is useful.

Brush correctly, reduce tooth decay; use a condom correctly, reduce chances of unwanted babies and infections.

When she says, Don't the schools have better things to teach the kids, I'd have to ask, what's better than teaching them skills that might save their lives? I mean, don't tell any kids that grown-ups think this way, but ... who really cares what the capitals of all the states are? This is more important than that, by far.

Finally, to answer her initial question, Why are we continuing to spend time, money and effort to develop a "condom video", we can just say, seriously, that learning the correct way to use a condom can prevent the spread of life-threatening diseases and can prevent the birth of unwanted babies. We hope our teens won't need to use a condom for a long, long time, but when the time comes and they decide to have intercourse with someone, we want them to be as safe as possible. The video just takes a few minutes, they'll remember it for their whole lives.

To argue that they shouldn't use one, or that they should use it improperly, is just wrong.


Anonymous Precious said...

Jim, tell me, how do you put a condom on incorrectly? For you is this really rocket science? …and when you brush your teeth be sure you don’t get the toothbrush in your nose!
If our kids are really that slow, No wonder they keep falling behind on the test scores.
It is not an issue that anybody is pretending that condoms do not exist or that information about contraception and disease prevention not be given to the children, it just seems that using valuable school time on a movie is over the top. Why not just suggest that the parents and their children go over to planned parenthood and watch the movie. That's an idea, have watching the movie as a take home assignment!
Do you recall David Brinkley's famous rejoinder when Jocylin Elders suggested that teenage boys needed instruction in certain established skills?

March 07, 2006 4:47 PM  
Blogger JimK said...

Well, hi there, Precious. That was quick.

Here are few things that any person should know:

Do you buy lambskin, or latex? Ribbed, nipple-end, what?
Where do you keep it? -- in your wallet, in a box on the bedtable, in the glove compartment?
How long is it good for? -- Do they get moldy or funky, or dry out, or decay over time?
How do you open the package? -- with your teeth, with scissors, with your fingers?
What do you do if you start to put it on inside out?
Do you unroll it first, or ... what?
What about that bubble on the end, what's that for?
When do you put it on? -- at the start of a date, before foreplay, before penetration, before ejaculation?
What size do you get?
What about anal and oral sex, do you need one then?
Do you need one if the girl's having her period?
What about spermicide -- when is that a good idea, if ever?
What about lubrication? Are lubricated condoms better? If it's not lubricated, should I put Vaseline or K-Y or something on it?
When do you take it off? -- As soon as you ejaculate, as soon as you're flaccid, after you wake up?
How do you take it off? -- just pinch the end and pull, unroll it, slide it from the base...?
What do you do with it then? -- Flush it down the toilet, throw it in the trash, put it in the disposal, save it for later?
What does a condom protect you from? -- pregnancy, AIDS, HPV, syphilis?

You see, there are a lot of questions.

The last video was, as I recall, seven minutes long. Seven minutes is not a great amount of time out of a kid's school year, considering it might save their life.

The fact is -- lots of people don't know the answers to all these questions.


March 07, 2006 5:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jim K said
The fact is -- lots of people don't know the answers to all these questions.

Apparently neither does (CRC) Precious (Retta Brown).


March 07, 2006 8:00 PM  
Blogger Dana Beyer, M.D. said...


I'm confused. You, Michelle and Theresa have close to zero confidence in your children and other students to do what you have taught them is the moral act -- to not have sex before marriage (assuming they're straight). You do not trust them.

Yet, you have overwhelming confidence in them when it comes to using a condom, without any instruction.

March 07, 2006 8:04 PM  
Anonymous precious said...

Thank you Jim for your reply. The information you provided is verbal not visual and can be explained verbally or as a handout fact sheet. I go back to my origianl point. Why take up valuable class time for the visual part of putting on the condom? How can you get it wrong? The directions are on the box! Some of the information is important to tell the children, that is if parents want their children to hear it.
I respect your views and what others say on the subject and I expect to be respected for my views. I think we all care about the children's health.

March 07, 2006 9:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Retta said, I go back to my origianl point. Why take up valuable class time for the visual part of putting on the condom? How can you get it wrong? The directions are on the box! Some of the information is important to tell the children, that is if parents want their children to hear it.


Please....anyone wanting to have sex and are hot and heavy into the mood are not going to take time to read the box or read a handout. If any school district teaches a full comprehensive sex ed..that piece is crucial. If parents do not want their children to hear it...OPT OUT.


March 07, 2006 9:28 PM  
Blogger JimK said...

Precious, there is a well-known distinction in psychology between declarative knowledge and procedural knowledge, that is, knowledge of facts and knowledge of how to do things. The learning associated with these two kinds of knowledge differs -- you can imagine trying to tell somebody how to ride a bicycle, and then, under pressure (!) having them hop on a bike and ride away. Verbal instruction is great for ... the capitals of the states -- I have a daughter now learning how to drive, and I doubt that the verbal description of driving has been nearly as instructive as the experience of actually pushing the gas and turning the wheel.

What really makes sense is having them actually put a condom on something. But I'm afraid some elements of our community would object too loudly if the schools did that -- maybe you are not aware how much the last proposed curriculum was compromised to give some of your group what they wanted.


March 07, 2006 9:56 PM  
Blogger Dana Beyer, M.D. said...


To follow up on what Jim said: American physicians and surgeons are trained according to a simple rule -- See one, do one, teach one.

Note that reading the textbook is not part of that. Any kind of hands-on skill requires hand-on practice.

Oh, and that's how animals transmit knowledge, too. They can't speak, nor can they write. But they can emulate behaviors.

March 07, 2006 11:13 PM  
Blogger Dana Beyer, M.D. said...

One other thing, Retta,

Why would a simple mention or handout suffice for condoms, but it won't suffice for abstinence? Why must this coutnry waste hundreds of millions of dollars on abstinence PROGRAMS when all you need to do is "Just Say No" to the kids?

March 08, 2006 10:00 AM  
Anonymous Tish said...

Perhaps Retta has never taught.

In a classroom of 15 teenagers, we asked how many of the students knew how to use a condom. Most of them raised their hands. Then we gave them instructions to read. Then we set up little models, basically short pieces of broom handle on bases so they stood up straight. We asked for volunteers, and then gave them condoms to put on the models. Most of them got it wrong. Then our student "peer-educator" for the unit demonstrated putting the condom on the model, talking her way through the process, and we got our student volunteers to do it again. The success rate was better. We ended by having races: pairs of students were timed and when they finished, the other students were invited to say whether the volunteers had missed anything. By the end of the class, they were laughing and proficient.

I did this as a teaching assistant in a freshman class at the University of Maryland. Most of the students were 17. This teaching method is also used in the human sexuality class offered every two years at my church, where the students are 12,13, and 14. I am glad that my son will have this class in the 7th grade.

When people are ask why we would teach about condom use, and are saying that it is too simple to need to be taught, kids, who already think they know everything about sex anyway, assume that they know what they are doing. They certainly aren't going to admit that they don't know how do do something as simple as putting on socks. When they are given the opportunity to learn in a setting that removes stigma from both ignorance and learning, they learn pretty quickly.

I recall teaching my children how to put on socks; it was not easy. The hardest part was learning how to bunch the material in the two hands so that it could be easily released as it was drawn over the foot. Putting on condoms, like putting on socks, is easy once learned.

I am simply not able to understand why Retta is so frightened of so many things - schools, students, teachers, condoms, education, sex... These are good and wonderful things when treated with respect and knowledge.

March 08, 2006 10:29 AM  
Blogger Christine said...

Precious said, "Why take up valuable class time for the visual part of putting on the condom?"

Well, one reason for doing so would be the advice of the CDC.:

"For condoms to provide maximum protection, they must be used consistently (every time) and correctly. Several studies of correct and consistent condom use clearly show that latex condom breakage rates in this country are less than 2 percent. Even when condoms do break, one study showed that more than half of such breaks occurred prior to ejaculation."

A demonstration of proper use will help ensure that condoms will be used correctly thereby increasing their effectiveness to more than 98% at preventing unplanned pregnancy and transmission of HIV.

freebird said, "If parents do not want their children to hear it...OPT OUT."

The good news is you don't have to opt your student out of the entire Family Life and Human Development curriculum. You can select which portions of the curriculum you want your student to learn and which portions you do not want your student to learn.

Last spring, Einstein High School held several meetings of a school-community planning group for family life and human development. Several parent members of teachthefacts.org attended these meetings. CRC President and MCPS parent Michelle Turner attended a few of them too.

What Einstein's health educators told us is that they are willing to taylor students' health educations to fit parents' wishes. If you want your student to skip the seven minute "Protect Yourself" condom demonstration video or the CRC-approved 1992-made "Hope is Not A Method" condom demonstration video or any other specific portion of the curriculum, these health educators will make sure your student will be excused from the lessons you do not want them to receive.

All parents should meet with their own students' health teachers by attending the parent meetings that are offered by MCPS health educators at each school before human sexuality classes are taught.

Thanks for joining in this conversation with us Retta. We welcome your input. Would you be so kind as to provide audio files of the tapes you made of the now disbanded Citizen Advisory Committee for Family Life and Human Development? There is much interest in the community about the tapes of those meetings. Thank you.


March 08, 2006 10:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a member of the community, let me just say I have absolutely no interest in hearing these tapes.

The first CAC failed to produce an acceptable curriculum. The community already knows this and now more taxpayer money must be spent devising another one.

Let's look ahead and not back to biased and misguided past attempts.

March 08, 2006 11:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh but dear Retta made some outrageous claims that the tapes would verify(if only one could hear). Let's see.....she did that over a year ago and promised to transribe them for all to hear.

So far has she? ...NOPE...

What does that tell you?


March 08, 2006 11:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you're still stewing over something that was said a year ago, Bird, you're an example of why this issue has been so divisive.

That TTF continually wants to recycle personal accusations reveals how thin their substantive arguments are.

March 08, 2006 11:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

LOL..CRC doing the usual.


March 08, 2006 12:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You got that right!

It's the usual:

Tellin' it like it is.

March 08, 2006 12:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

LOL...no one would ever accuse CRC of that...well except another CRC'r.

CRC as Retta does like to tout things as facts and then when ask for specifics..runs and hides.


March 08, 2006 1:13 PM  
Blogger Christine said...

Well Anon, I'm not surprised you have have "absolutely no interest in hearing" the truths those tapes will reveal. I must point out no one has any way of knowing if you are a member of the Montgomery County community or not because you have not identified yourself.

I am a member of the community (Montgomery County resident, MCPS alumnus, and mother of three MCPS students) and would be very appreciative if Retta's tapes of the prior CAC meetings were made available to the public.


March 08, 2006 1:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Christine, I'd be surprised if you counted up all the people in Montgomery County who care to hear those tapes and didn't have a few fingers and toes left over.

March 08, 2006 3:00 PM  
Blogger andrear said...

Anon- why do you care if someone wants to hear these tapes- just because you do not? Don't view, don't hear, don't listen- that is your usual mantra. And in this case, that is okay -but how does that have anything to do with people who do? Jim was reading and laughing over Wittgenstein(spelling?) the other day on the subway- I highly doubt I will ever be reading- much less laughing over -Wittgenstein- so what- does that mean Jim shouldn't?

March 08, 2006 3:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't care. I was just disputing the notion that there was "much interest in the community", as Christine stated. I don't know why these other two felt necessary to bicker about it.

But you're right, I guess. C'est la vie.

March 08, 2006 3:19 PM  
Anonymous precious said...

O.K. you'all
Lets get a few facts straight.
First, I never said I would transcribe the tapes..
2nd- David and Jackie and Jill and others taped the meetings too.
3rd. I do think that it is best to look to the future for a legally and factually sound curriculum this time around. The judge found problems, Dr. Weast found problems and now the medical consultants found problems- Go look at the memos on www.mcpscurriculum.com from this past CRC meeting.
Let us focus on this new curriculum issue. We all want the children to stay healthy and safe. They ALL are indeed precious. What do you think?

March 08, 2006 3:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

statement from the medical team:

"We have evaluated the curricula for medical and scientific accuracy, clarity of information, appropriateness of age and developmental level, alignment with Maryland state curriculuar requirements, sensitivity, ad balance. Based on these criteria, we find the previously approved revisions to the Grade 8 and Grade 10 curriculum on family life and human development to be insufficient."

March 08, 2006 4:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh no..spin is in...Have you not thought insufficient means MORE NEEDS TO BE ADDED and even more than old curriculum had or proposed had and we are not talking the ExGay myth???????

Of course not.. CRC'rs see the above memo as less or only abstinence..or not at all.


March 08, 2006 5:09 PM  
Blogger Christine said...

Here are some more facts:

1. On February 27, 2006, Retta Brown made a Public Comment at the BOE all about an incident that occurred in Massachusetts in last spring.

2. On March 8, 2006, Retta Brown thinks "that it is best to look to the future."

3. I asked, "Would you be so kind as to provide audio files of the tapes you made of the now disbanded Citizen Advisory Committee for Family Life and Human Development?" An audio file is not a transcript.

4. ALL MCPS students are indeed precious. That's why the human sexuality courses they take in MCPS should at include all of them.


March 08, 2006 5:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Retta said.... O.K. you'all
Lets get a few facts straight.
said March 8, 2006--

Talking about this Retta??????? Now what did LC collect and Johnny Garza?


Full Member (CRC)(Posted on CRC Mesage Board)

Posts: 205

Hogan&Hartson Bill aka JF
« on: February 22, 2006, 09:56:27 PM »


The taxpayers are "cleaning up" DF et al's efforts. I don't belive they will want to listen to them again.

Latest legal bills Nov. 2005 reported at Feb 14 BOE meeting.

JF is going to pay for his children’s college with MCPS money!


The Hogan and Hartson bill for November was $35,418, all related to policy matters. The largest amount, totaling $33,113, was for policy issues concerning health education curriculum development.


(Retta later explaining to another poster who JF is and DF is.)

CRC PRECIOUS--Retta Brown said:
Re: Hogan&Hartson Bill aka JF
« Reply #2 on: February 24, 2006, 07:58:39 AM »


David Fisback was chairman of the Citizens Avisory Committee
Jonathan Franklin is the attorney at H&H who is hired by MCPS to assist in the health curriculum revision. He probably isn't the only person working on it. Usually in a law firm several lawyers and clerks are consulted with regard to individual clients.

March 08, 2006 5:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did you ever think TTF might score a few checks in the W column if they focused on the positive rather than the negative?

March 08, 2006 6:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here goes a CRC'r again thinking a temp stay was a win.

Did CRC'rs win by making sure that MCPS now has TOTAL control of curriculum development for sex ed?


March 08, 2006 10:07 PM  
Blogger JimK said...

Anon, the not-negative thing sounds like good advice. We do stay cheerful here, as you may have noticed, but a certain degree of negativity is inevitable for this reason: TTF formed to oppose the attempted removal and takeover of the school board by a handful of well-organized and well-connected extremists.

In normal times, the school district revises its curricula, they test them, they implement them, and everybody is positive. This time, the process was derailed, and they were harshly attacked for doing their routine work.

Individually, and not knowing one another, our founding members went to the December 2004 meeting where the RecallMontgomerySchoolBoard.com group officially organized to try to impose their will on the majority in Montgomery County, and individually we concluded that group had to be stopped. So we contacted one another, and within a couple of weeks we had met and started a web site.

The Recall group, now CRC, hasn't gone away. They've branched out into defending white Christian identity and fighting gay marriage and other things. They've gotten themselves tied into big-money national groups like the Family Blah Blah and the Concerned Blah Blah of Blah Blah and the Blah Blah Forum, and we can't just take a nap and let them run our community into the ground. I know it gets a little negative sometimes, but these are just strange times we live in. The nice, positive thing is to go along with it; the right thing is to stand up and fight, even if it means saying Yes to negativity.


March 08, 2006 10:34 PM  
Anonymous Observer said...

It's the suing, not the "stewing"
that "has been so devisive" and
so costly.

"More taxpayer money must be
spent" because of the lawsuit
brought by a "handful of well-
organized and well-connected
extremists" and their friends
from out of state.

"Let us focus on this new
curriculum" revision since the
last one was "insufficient."
Rest assured the doctors writing
it will make sure the new
curriculum will provide more
information about sexual
orientation and gender identity
because "insufficient means MORE

March 09, 2006 7:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The nice, positive thing is to go along with it; the right thing is to stand up and fight, even if it means saying Yes to negativity."

In a classic gesture of American democracy, the community has attempted to assimilate and civilize your radical group by granting it a seat on the new CAC. In turn, I think we have the right to expect a shift away from the politics of personal attack and a more positive pursuit of a responsible curriculum from TTF.

March 09, 2006 9:43 AM  
Blogger JimK said...

You'll find no personal attacks here. We'll dismantle their arguments, as in this post, but there's nothing personal about it. We just disagree. We disagree with the kinds of things they want in the curriculum, and we disagree with their underhanded, win-by-any-means tactics.

Nice try, though, typifying our approach as "the politics of personal attacks."

Back it up, or back off.


March 09, 2006 10:53 AM  
Blogger Dana Beyer, M.D. said...

And I like this: "the community." What "community" exactly is that, Wyatt?

March 09, 2006 11:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Then what would Wyatt do if he gave up posting here???????

March 09, 2006 11:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why all the bad advice not to dispose used condoms by flushing down the toilet. It is the only sanitary disposal and is used by most everybody. Dispite all the horror stories they don't backup or plug up the toilet. I have flushed hundreds and never had a single problem.One flush and they are gone forever/

March 29, 2006 5:26 PM  
Blogger JimK said...

Anon -- Where did you hear that you shouldn't do that?


March 29, 2006 5:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For sucessful condom disposal do not tie the condom end in a knot but leave untied so air can escape and fill with water. Better yet fill half way with water and toss it into the toilet before flushing.I can assure you based on years experience, rubbers will flush this way without fail, its neat and fool proof.

April 01, 2006 8:59 AM  

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