A little outsourcing problem

In today’s Washington Post, Marc Fisher asks of Montgomery County Public Schools the same question that needs to be asked of Loudoun County school officials:

Okay, the game is revolting, and the group is gone — we got that. But I still have questions: Why, exactly, was teaching about sensitive and difficult issues of sexual activity and sexually transmitted disease outsourced? And why was this job entrusted to the Pregnancy Center, which says its abstinence program is based on the belief that “pregnancy is not the root problem, but a symptom of a lifestyle that is outside of God’s will”?

“It’s a mystery why this group was approved by the central office,” Edwards tells me. I appreciate his candor, but if I were a Montgomery parent, I’d be keen to see that mystery solved.

Good point. I’m keen on knowing some things about the recent return of comedian Keith Deltano, whose mandatory “abstinence assembly” at Loudoun County High School back in October was reported here.

I would like to know, when our public school regulations strictly require Family Life Education instructors to have specialized training, and to never, ever deviate from the approved curriculum, how it is that principals have been allowed to invite an outside commercial enterprise to present a lesson on sexuality.

I would like to know why, when the Family Life Education curriculum is made available for review by parents so that we may make informed decisions about opting out our children, parents were not afforded the same opportunity to review this lesson. Where did “parental rights” suddenly disappear to?

I’d like to see Keith Deltano’s actual résumé detailing his credentials to teach about such a critical public health issue, as opposed to merely his promotional website bio. That bio provides no useful information, vaguely referring to an “award” and experience as a “”youth counselor,” both of which are meaningless in terms of professional licensing. Are our principals actually making decisions to allocate instructional time on the basis of such fluff?

And I would also like to know who facilitated the introduction of this particular program, and who is paying for this. Nobody seems to know, which is damn curious. The Montgomery and Loudoun school officials seem to have the same “we just don’t know how this happened” problem, which is not a happy trend.

Instead of answering these legitimate questions, a coordinated campaign to defend these offensive lessons tries to change the subject. The preferred method is to pretend that there are only two possible positions one could take on the subject of sexuality education: Supporting a fear-based, browbeating abstinence-only approach, or advocating promiscuous sexual behavior.

The primary problem here is not one of goals or even of tactics — teaching the value of abstinence until an age of greater emotional maturity is a fine idea, and as dumb as these games are, they’re not nearly as harmful as rampant sexual activity by 14-year-olds.

No, the main issue here is the one that gums up communication between adults and teens in the first place.

This is exactly right. Games like this make kids feel manipulated, not listened to. Handing out chocolate and then revealing that it’s really a laxative? All that this illustrates is that adults are bullies who can’t be trusted. Ditto for screaming about dirty diapers into a kid’s ear until he finally gives in and produces the “right” answer. The problem with Deltano’s show is not, as he complains to the press, that anyone thinks “it’s a bad idea to tell 13 year olds not to have sex.” The problem is that the demeaning manner in which he treats students, and encourages parents to treat their children, is not an effective way of influencing behavior.

At the workshop for parents Deltano presented at Dominion High School, he freely admitted that he is not a liscensed psychologist, and it shows. The advice he gives parents is a recipe for increasing mistrust and alienation, which is the last thing kids need. It’s good to see other parents pointing that out.

Don’t expect this issue to disappear, as the proponents of this highly biased program, many of them the same individuals who fabricated the 2005 controversy over the play “Offsides,” are aggressive and determined to have their way.

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