April 13 Journalizing




Taking Sides

Issue 11:  Should Comprehensive Sexuality Education Be Taught in Public Schools?

SIECUS Report, from “Guidelines for Comprehensive Sexuality Education:  Kindergarten through 12th Grade”  (2004)

SIECUS chair of the board since June 1, 2009 is JoAnn M. Smith here’s a blurb from the web site:

“Ms. Smith served as President of the Board of Directors of the National Planned Parenthood Action Fund (2003-2004), served as Vice President of the Board of Directors of the Empire Justice Center (2007), and was appointed to New York State’s Medical Malpractice Task Force (2007). In addition, Ms. Smith has received a national award for advocacy from the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association (2004).”

Robert E. Rector, from “The Effectiveness of Abstinence Education Programs in Reducing Sexual Activity among Youth”.  Heritage Foundation (April 8, 2002)

“Those favoring comprehensive sex education claim that by not providing such information to our children we are putting them in great danger and may be violating their constitutional rights.” p.201.

“SIECUS believes that comprehensive school-based sexuality education should be part of the education program at every grade.”  p.202.

“The primary goal of sexuality education is to promote adult sexual health.”  p.208.

“Abstinence education programs for youth have been proven to be effective in reducing early sexual activity.”  p.211.

“Young people who become sexually active enter an arena of high-risk behavior that leads to physical and emotional damage.” p.212.

“Real abstinence education is essential to reducing out-of-wedlock childbearing, preventing sexually transmitted diseases, and improving emotional and physical well-being among the nations youth.” p.218.

Personal Opinion (before reading):  I think I definitely come down on the No side here.  With a culture and society so sex-crazed (to the befuddlement of our European contemporaries), I’d like to declare schools as Abstinence Zones.  I think the clearest benefit is more class time for real education.  I hope that the Yes side has some clear statistics on the benefits of comprehensive sexual education.  Without having formal classes about it, we make the point that public education is not really the right forum for that topic, but risk keeping it unnecessarily as taboo.  Furthermore, I doubt really that facts should be presented devoid of ethics or morality.  Please don’t get me wrong, I’m not advocating a gag rule, I intend to be frank about the benefits (emotional, health, spiritual) to abstinence before marriage if I am asked on the topic, but don’t want whole classes or assemblies that don’t present the spectrum of views.  For example, there are plenty of folks throughout history who have felt that a higher calling supersedes sexual urges.  I think those voices need to be given some air-time.   The other side gets plenty of air time in the media, which actually I believe causes more anxiety and angst for kids who feel they are “missing something” and thus are easy victims of peer pressure.

Personal Opinion (after reading):  After reading the arguments for and against I was reminded that I was in sexuality education in 1980 in middle school.

Issue 18:  Are Character/Moral Education Programs Effective?

Tom Lickona,
Eric Schaps, and
Catherine Lewis, from “CEP’s Eleven Principles of Effective Character Education.”  Character Education Partnership (2003)

Patriotism for All, from “The Problem with Character Education”.  (2004-2006);  Patriotism for All, from “Responsibility?  You’ve Got to Be Kidding” (2004-2007)

[type summary of arguments here]

“[W]hat we get are arbitrarily chosen, ill-defined pillars and folksy slogans whose language seems to be an appeal to a nebulous, sentimental, touchy-feely sensibility—stuffed with culturally idiosyncratic assumptions.” p.344.

Personal Opinion (before reading):  Whereas I am not opposed to teaching morality in school, the dilemma inevitably arises of who the parent wants to be giving this type of instruction to their children.  The question of whether standards or some type of EALRs need to be generated for character/moral education, and if so, what should they be based on.  I think all education is inherently moral, and that all traditions share some fundamental principles and which no tradition would take issue with. I just don’t want teachers to have to tack some extra education onto their already busy schedules.  I will be curious to see if there are statistics either way on what is successful and what is not.

Personal Opinion (after reading): 

Evans, D. (2008).  Taking sides:  Clashing views in teaching and educational practice.  (3rd ed.).  New York, NY:  McGraw Hill.

Teaching to Change the World

Chapter 4:  The Subject Matters

Personal Opinion (before reading):   Looking forward to reading about all the subject and how our exemplary teachers have approached the adaptation of the instruction in those subjects to a diverse classroom.

Personal Opinion (after reading):

I like this quote and especially how it shows you can “teach to the test” and still teach good mathematics:

Even under the worst political deluge, teachers like Mark Hill weather the storm and teach math well.  In Mark’s case, he tested various teaching approaches and found that his students actually had an easier time learning the mathematics [sic] procedures that are on the state test when he spends time helping them develop critical thinking skills.  He concluded:  Problem solving strategies enable students to remember and use the procedural knowledge they are exposed to.

Perhaps the best defense, and weapon as well, against politically driven mandates is an articulate and highly competent generation of teachers of mathematics—elementary and high school—who know more about math and hot to teach it than their critics.  With care and competence such teachers can negotiate traditional mandates and still serve their students well.



Chapter 6:  Assessment:  Measuring What Matters

Personal Opinion (before reading):  Definitely another hot button issue.  Philosophically, I believe assessment is crucial to understanding when teaching is working and making corrections if it is not.

Personal Opinion (after reading): 

Oakes, J. and Lipton, M. (2008).  Teaching to change the world.  (3rd ed.).  New York, NY:  McGraw Hill.

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