I caught the radio program Think Out Loud last night on my drive home. It was a discussion of public education laws and practices here in Oregon centering on the issue of sex education. I just looked it up online, and the site has links to current Oregon Laws and mandates. The show’s website has a replay button if you are interested in listening to the program.
The story centered on one school district, Scappoose, going through the process of interpreting and implementing these laws. On the show Brad Victor, Sexuality Education specialist at Oregon Department of Education explained that Oregon has a local control educational model for implementing educational statues.
After explaining Oregon’s Sex Ed mandates, he explained that in this instance each district interprets the laws and designs their own curriculum under the oversight of their local school board. School districts have in his words is “a lot of leeway” and “a lot of latitude” in implementing guidelines and curriculum. Not to mention the state has built-in a gaping parental “opt out” clause for every single piece of sex ed curriculum.
The latter part of the show involved people from Scappoose talking about the process of implementing the new Sex Ed statue by gathering community members along with educators in order interpret and implement a comprehensive sex education curriculum for their district. All in all it was a very interesting program.
Rethinking Schools has a good site offering an overview of Sexuality Education including on overview of the historical pendulum of public opinion on the topic over the years. This is a pendulum which swings from silence to fear and back over the years. That is to say, the general populace suggests either educators say nothing at all or use sex ed. to present every disease and negative outcome across the spectrum. Listening to the interview it would seem that Oregon is back on the latter side right now focusing on teen pregnancy and STDs. And that, what I’d call the Scared Abstinent curriculum, is still considered the progressive side of sex ed.
One final thought, it was interesting to me that leeway, latitude, and opting out were some of the key points the ODE’s rep would make about “Comprehensive K-12” sex education during the program. Oh the unlucky teacher and school district that decide to take an educational stand here by suggesting we rely on experts to design this curriculum. And I can’t imagine what would happen to the educator who took an equity stand related to things like sexuality diversity (you know, the whole world aside from heterosexuality) on this issue. These laws seem to be encouraging bullying curriculum design and majority domination of knowledge on this topic for a long time to come.