Friday, August 17, 2007

The NYT Crosses Over

The New York Times had one of the strangest stories ever yesterday about the Montgomery County sex-ed curriculum. The CRC should be proud of this one, they really got one reporter, Diana Jean Schemo, to relay their message faithfully. I'm going to have to pick this one apart piece by piece.
After five years, one legal defeat and a challenge on the way, Montgomery County, Md., is at the frontier of sex education in the United States. This fall, barring last-minute court action, the county will offer lessons on homosexuality in its 8th- and 10th-grade health education courses. Lessons on Homosexuality Move Into the Classroom

First of all, nobody would really call a 10-day temporary restraining order a "legal defeat." It was a setback, and the only thing that the CRC has ever tried that worked at all; it did get the school district to negotiate with them, which was good for them, but it was still ... a 10-day restraining order.

Second, you're going to wonder how it is that they portray this as "the frontier of sex education in the United States." Lots of school districts cover this same territory. For instance, a Washington Post story earlier this year concluded, "school systems in politically liberal communities are expanding the lexicon of sex and gender identity in health classes. Homosexuality is one of many topics covered under the umbrella of "comprehensive" sex education, which teaches students how to be comfortable with their sexuality and safe in sexual practice."
To school officials, the lessons are a natural outgrowth of sex education and of teachings on tolerance and diversity. They consist of two heavily scripted, 45-minute lessons for each grade and a video demonstrating how to put on a condom. The lessons’ central message is respect and acceptance of the many permutations of sexual identity, both in others and in one’s self.

School officials said they were not seeking to promote a political agenda, beyond tolerance and a kind of cultural literacy. “Our charge starts with educating students,” said Betsy Brown, who supervised the curriculum’s development in consultation with the American Academy of Pediatrics. “This is part of education.”

Very sly: "to school officials," "school officials said." The implications are clear: the school officials are deluded.

(Clue: the word "accepted" is a CRC word, it's not part of the curriculum. Tells you whose notes they're copying from.)

Look, I'm proud of our school district, but let's just say they were not that eager to plunge headlong into controversy. They were extremely careful to keep the curriculum content as unprovocative as they could. Nobody watching this process could accuse MCPS of pursuing a political agenda with this; they were brave, yes, they did what the community wanted them to do, but I'm pretty sure they'd be more comfortable if we were all reading Silas Marner.
But critics, who have filed lawsuits seeking to stop the lessons, contended that the Montgomery County schools, just north of Washington, have gone too far. John Garza, president of the Citizens for a Responsible Curriculum, a group leading the opposition, said parents can block television shows they deem morally questionable, “but then we have the schoolteacher affirming unhealthy behavior.”

The NYT might have noted that these "critics" are very few in number. And it might have been a good idea for the reporter to flip through the curriculum materials, just to see what behaviors are being affirmed. She may have been surprised to find that none of the sexual orientation classes say anything about "behaviors" at all. The classes are about romantic feelings and feelings of attraction.

How do you affirm something without mentioning it?

Oh yeah: Covert Politically Correct Code Talk.
Montgomery is a mostly well-educated, politically liberal enclave. But opponents of the new curriculum, portrayed as a vocal minority by school officials, may be more in sync with the mood of parents nationally.

I love that "portrayed as a vocal minority by [deluded] school officials." No, they are a vocal minority. They are portrayed as that by everybody who lives here.

Now the reporter has spilled the beans -- this is what she wants us to think. Montgomery County is some weird place, but the rest of the country is more like the CRC.

We want to see her support that idea. --Ah, good, she's got data.
According to a 2004 national poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation, Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government and National Public Radio, roughly three out of four parents say it is appropriate for high schools to teach about homosexuality, but about half say it is appropriate in middle school.

Uh, that's the opposite of what she just said -- this survey finds that most people agree with what we're doing in Montgomery County.

Is that weird, or what? I mean, isn't she embarrassed to say one thing, and then show the data proving she's wrong?
When asked about the issue in greater detail, more than 50 percent of high school and middle school parents supported teaching what homosexuality is about “without discussing whether it is wrong or acceptable.” Only 8 percent of high school parents and 4 percent of middle school parents said schools should teach “that homosexuality is acceptable.” The survey had a margin of error of 6 percentage points.

Montgomery County may be ahead of the country on sex education, but it may also just be out there, stranded on its own.

OK, so once again -- the majority of the country agrees with MCPS. How did she spin this to say that we're out ahead somewhere? Nothing in the curriculum says that anything is right or wrong or acceptable. It just says some people are like that, and we should show them the same respect we show anybody else.

It sounds like they talked to some of our anti-MCPS radicals, and reported what they said as fact. Which is sad for a paper like The Times.

I'm skipping a couple of paragraphs...
But for a raft of reasons, many of them unconscious, teaching about sexuality is different, said Susan K. Freeman, a historian at Minnesota State University, Mankato.

-- Wha? Minnesota State University, Mankato? They had to go to Mankato, Minnesota to find somebody to say what they wanted to hear? A historian? I think they have a little splainin to do here.
For many parents, boy-girl dating may not mean that their child is sexually active, she said. By coming out as gay, though, “they’re announcing their sexuality.” Parents make a tacit assumption of sexual activity, and “that presents a problem for a lot of people,” she said.

OK, stop.

Gay people often know by middle school or earlier that they're gay. At some point they tell somebody. That doesn't mean they are "sexually active." Has nothing to do with it. Where does this historian come up with the idea that parents assume this? Is this supposed to be an actual argument against teaching about sexual orientation?

I don't understand how a reputable newspaper can print something like that.

I have only seen the online version of this story -- maybe it was in, like, "The Onion" section of the paper. Can somebody please check that for me in the print version? Thanks.
The Montgomery County lessons begin by defining terms like “prejudice,” “homosexual” and “transgender,” and warn students not to assume that because they are not yet attracted to the opposite sex, they must be gay. The eighth-grade curriculum tells gay students that “concerns about how family and friends will accept the situation are reasonable, and fears about being teased or even attacked are not unfounded.”

OK, so much for making it sound like a walk in the park.
In the 10th grade, the lessons, which presume that sexual identity is innate, again discuss the stresses of coming out, but add, “Many people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender celebrate their self-discovery.”

Just for the record, let me show you what the curriculum really says -- this is from the Holt resource, Grade 10, second day:
Many people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender celebrate their self-discovery and feel relief and a new sense of joy when they can be honest with themselves and their loved ones. Others may feel isolated while coming out and may even turn to drugs, alcohol, suicide, and other dangerous behaviors. Because many youths who come out are met with hostility, they are at greater risk for engaging in harmful, damaging, and even life-threatening behaviors and for being the targets of violence and harassment.

Let me point out, just taking the first half of the first sentence, and using it to cast the curriculum as gay-affirming or gay-promoting is no better than a lie.

And this is the New York Times.
Kevin Jennings, the executive director of the New York-based Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, said the curriculum could reduce bullying over sexual identity.

“I don’t know how denying information to young people about sexuality or sexual orientation does anything to promote their health and well being,” he said.

True, that.
Mr. Garza objected to schools teaching that homosexuality is not subject to change and failing to mention higher rates of some venereal diseases among gay men. “When you get into these hotly contested areas of moral judgment, that’s where the school needs to get out of it, or at least teach all sides,” he said.

Sheesh, we've heard all that before. 1.Nothing says it "is not subject to change." 2.there is a "venereal disease" section of the Health curriculum for mentioning diseases, it doesn't belong here. 3.there aren't "two sides," the American Medical Association and other medical and scientific professional organizations are very clear on the facts.

This article is a little more sophisticated propaganda push than we have seen in the past from the Citizens for a Responsible Curriculum. I take it to mean that somebody at the Thomas More Legal Center knows somebody at The Times, I'm guessing somebody got to be buddies during the Dover fiasco.

We have been lucky to have had good local reporting over the past two and a half years we've been involved in this controversy, where "local" includes the Washington Post and some very strong smaller newspapers. We've seen a couple of turkeys, and we've even seen the big guys succumb to the pressure once or twice, but in general our local reporters have been fair to both sides. I would've expected the prestigious New York Times to do their homework before they blurted out something like this.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

"First of all, nobody would really call a 10-day temporary restraining order a "legal defeat." It was a setback, and the only thing that the CRC has ever tried that worked at all; it did get the school district to negotiate with them, with was good for them, but it was still ... a 10-day restraining order."

Actually, it was... elimination of what Washington Post (a biased conservative paper) columnist Marc Fisher called "a nasty piece of work", the Fishback revisions.

August 17, 2007 8:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"This article is a little more sophisticated propaganda push than we have seen in the past from the Citizens for a Responsible Curriculum."

Well, I think it should be distributed to every voter in the county!

Funny how TTF is the only one who thinks the new curriculum is mainstream!

Very funny!

August 17, 2007 8:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

More about MCPS from the liberal mainstream!:

"The controversy illustrates how fraught the road can be for educators who venture beyond academics to influence students about sensitive social issues, risking not just lawsuits, but also losing step with parents and voters. In New York City, the controversy 14 years ago over the “rainbow curriculum,” which included the book “Heather Has Two Mommies” as a first-grade text, cost Chancellor Joseph A. Fernandez his job."

Sounds like a good idea for Weast!

"“It’s a myth that our schools don’t teach values about lots of things,” said Debra W. Haffner, director of the Religious Institute on Sexual Morality, Justice and Healing, which promotes discussions about sexuality. “We don’t put communism, socialism and capitalism on an equal footing in our classes on government.”"

Exactly, and neither should we homosexuality!

August 17, 2007 8:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are you fresh out of homosexual propaganda? Have you forgotten some of your gay terms or become insensitive to the benefits of embracing homosexuality as an equal alternative to heterosexual marriage?

If so, I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry will replenish your gray matter with everything the Left wants you to know about loving the world of sodomy. Under the guise of comedy (and there are some funny lines) Universal Pictures and Director Dennis Dugan are now bringing audiences two hours and twenty minutes’ worth of gay party-line preaching.

Like similar movies such as My Best Friend’s Wedding, Boat Trip, and Brokeback Mountain, I Now Pronounce You . . . features popular, credible, often handsome, mostly heterosexual stars to pipe in the filmmakers’ message and attempt to legitimize homosexual practices with mainstream America.

August 17, 2007 9:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually, it was [a legal defeat]...of...the Fishback revisions.

Michelle Turner quote from CRC Press Release 1/9/07:

“In many ways this [2007] curriculum is more radical than the previous [2004] one."

According to their spokeswoman, the CRC prefers the 2004 curriculum that their TRO eliminated to what replaced it, which just goes to show, you should be careful what you ask for.

No wonder the suers are mopey.

August 17, 2007 11:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"According to their spokeswoman, the CRC prefers the 2004 curriculum that their TRO eliminated to what replaced it, which just goes to show, you should be careful what you ask for."

Come off it, Beatrix! CRC didn't ask that the entire MCPS be exiled to Elba for life! Obviously, they can try again! They committed new atrocities this time, still in litigation, but beginning to receive attention from the national media!

Truth is, if MCPS had succeeded in imposing their unconstitutional curriculum last time out, they'd probably been fine-tuning it by now to something like the current horrid product! As it is, CRC protected the students from the gay agenda for a couple of years!

Stay tuned!

August 17, 2007 11:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

CRC didn't ask that the entire MCPS be exiled to Elba for life!

Well they tried but their RECALLMONTGOMERYSCHOOLBOARD effort went nowhere fast and the very next school board election resulted in only strong supporters of the revised curriculum winning election. Instead of exiling, recalling, or defeating curriculum supporting candidates for the MCPS BOE, the suers settled. What did they settle for? They reduced community input to the citizens advisory committee from 27 to 15 members and they reserved two seats for themselves in their attempt to exert control the next revision of the curriculum. That attempt to write a curriculum they liked better worked out about as well as their twice refuted legal arguments are working this time.

Stay tuned indeed!

August 17, 2007 12:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Get over yourself, Beatrix! They sought to stop the Fishback revisions and did!!

August 17, 2007 12:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yep, they stopped them and now the CRC is longing for the good old days, what their spokewoman considers to be the less radical 2004 revisions.

August 17, 2007 1:06 PM  

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