Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Post Front Page Today

You probably already know, the Washington Post had a front-page story today about the sex-ed pilot test starting. Hey, I see where they mentioned the huge protest outside the school:
Three CRC leaders with protest signs stood outside Argyle Middle at dismissal yesterday. One sign read, "Health before politics."

Wonder if they'll try that again today?

... Health before politics?

It was the CRC who made this a political issue in the first place, starting when they were

There were several things in this story that should resonate. Like, listen to the kid who actually took the class:
Luke Stocky, 14, found the class relatively dull.

"Our teacher, Mrs. Becker, she read straight from the manual," he said. "It was very strict. Like, you couldn't ask questions."

It's just another health class. Dull.

The "questions" thing, by the way, is something that I hope will be changing in the future. I just explained it to a reporter this way: teachers aren't experts on this sexual orientation stuff, they learned about it the same way we did, on the playground. So if kids start asking them questions, there's no way they'll know the answers off the top of their heads. So you can't really let them ad-lib at this point, when the material is new.

On the other hand, I hate to keep bringing it up, but the citizens advisory committee did recommend a couple of pages of statements by the American Medical Association, the American Psychological Association, and the American Academy of Pediatrics, that answered a lot of questions, and there were references to web sites that have a lot of relevant and unbiased information. That would be good stuff to have available in the classroom.

Unless you're one of those who thinks the mainstream medical and scientific community is biased. Then we can't help you.

So ... members of the committee, and those of us here at TTF as well, would like to see more authoritative information made available to teachers and students. The CRC opposes that, and I think MCPS is afraid it would be too controversial to include that information. But at least the teachers could answer some of those questions this kid is talking about.

Whatever, we'll keep an eye on the situation and we'll keep pushing to include it. I think the teachers deserve it.

Ooh, another nice quote.
"We're dealing with people in the school system here who want to do things on the sly," said Michelle Turner, vice president of the central opposition group, Citizens for a Responsible Curriculum (CRC). "We expected an answer or reply from the state board a week and a half ago. We don't understand what the delay is. We haven't received an explanation."

Mmm hmmm, I guess we'll be hearing pretty soon.

As far as working "on the sly" -- they're schools. They don't post notices on the Internet every day about what they're going to teach that day in class. They've got work to do. Sorry if it makes it harder to organize your huge protests, they really weren't thinking of you when they planned these classes.

Why -- here's an intelligent guy saying something perfectly sensible:
"The process is moving forward just as it's supposed to," said Jim Kennedy, co-founder of supporters group "It shouldn't have been such a big fight in the first place."


Another little nugget, near the end:
Bill Reinhard, spokesman for the state board, said no ruling would be made before Friday. John Garza, CRC president, said he had heard members of the state school board were waiting for more information about what would happen to students who choose to opt out of the new lessons, and he took that as a hopeful sign.

See ... this is funny. In their appeal to the state, the CRC wrote this:
Students are forced to sit silently ... or to opt out of class (which under state law is required to be an elective, not mandatory class, thus such an opt out is not realistic and precludes graduation) (See Exhibit V Washington Examiner Article, Dena Levitz) ...

That phrase "precludes graduation" -- that sounds bad. I imagine the state board would want to know what's up with that.

You note that the reference is to an Examiner article. The article was wrong -- it was called Students required to take controversial sex-ed class, and the truth is, students are not required to take controversial sex-ed class. The article said they needed it to graduate, and the newspaper later issued a statement correcting themselves. You can take the alternative and still graduate.

Maybe that's what the state's looking at, assuming that there is any element of truth to what Garza told this reporter.

If the state's concerned about the issue of what lessons students are given when they opt out, well, they give them something. If you want the school district to make a special-and-equal curriculum for the kids whose parents won't sign the permission form ... I don't think so. This article noted that four students out of more than sixty were not allowed to participate in the class, "because they had forgotten to return required permission forms." That can happen, you can't take the class unless your parents agree to it.

Word is that typically about one percent of students opt out of the classes. They don't need a whole separate curriculum, let them sit for a few days in the library working on something else. Despite what the CRC says, it won't hurt them or their reputations to spend a few days in the library.

The state should rule pretty soon, it sounds like. The CRC has already missed their chance to disrupt the pilot testing by filing a suit at the last minute, like they did last year. Of course, they have said they'll sue, and there's no reason to expect them not to.

Stay tuned.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a great article...

I'm glad you jumped on the "health before politics" thing. I had the exact same reaction you did: YES! That's what we have been saying all along!

Three guys with signs isn't a huge protest. It's barely a protest at all. Three people isn't even enough for a game of bridge.

March 07, 2007 3:28 PM  
Blogger andrea said...

Hey, I don't think MCPS informed me about the exact day when my daughter started studying past perfect tense in French. And I am pretty positive that I didn't get a memo on the date and hour my son was starting Hamlet. Pretty sly- and they were actually my own kids- and their own schools. I want to know why MCPS hasn't informed me about when football practice is for junior varsity at Gaithersburg High-maybe Miss Central organzation Turner knows.

March 07, 2007 4:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did you notice the "box" in the center of the article lay-out? It was a list of the hot-button issues in this curriculum. Once again, the sentence about the new-found joy of coming out was printed out of context. (It appears in a paragraph titled "Challenges and Struggles" and goes on to list some of the negative outcomes of coming out.)

But the really interesting thing about the box was that everything listed in it is a part of the 10th grade curriculum.

Myabe the best way to deal with that nasty 10th grade curriculum is to stomp it while it's in the 8th grade - before it grows up.

March 07, 2007 4:30 PM  

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