Curriculum · General · School District · Tools

Example – Open Records Request

Dear Officer for Public Records,
This request is made under the Texas Public Information Act, Chapter 552, Texas Government Code, which guarantees the public’s access to information in the custody of governmental agencies.

I respectfully request the following information:

District Policy.  Please provide all district policies on human sexuality education, puberty education, human growth and development, family life education, and maturation, including the adoption date and whether it was adopted by the school board or district administration with or without an official board vote.

Schedules.  Please provide copies of course schedules, instructors, listings, or other documents that reflect what courses required or elective are offered in your district schools that contain information  involving any human sexuality instruction.

Instructors. Please provide a list of all employees and outside speakers of human sexuality including names, organizations or affiliations.  Please provide a list of all employees that have been trained to teach human sexuality instruction.

Parental Notification.   Please provide copies of notification to parents about human sexuality instruction including but not limited to parent permission, opt-in, or opt-out forms used for human sexuality instruction, puberty education, human growth and development, family life education, and maturation at all grade levels.

Demonstrations. Please provide any documentation regarding the demonstration or distribution of contraceptives in your district including condoms.

Organizations.  Please provide a list of any organizations or other entities or resources provided to students for referrals regarding human sexuality related issues, including by school counselors.

Pregnant Students.  Please provide a copy of your policy regarding notification of parent(s) when a student says she is pregnant or thinks she is pregnant.

Counseling/Guidance Programs.  Please provide summary level of the content of each counseling and guidance program used in the school district including but not limited to Welcoming Schools,  Social Emotional Learning, Leader in Me, Trevor Romain, anti-bullying programs, and character education.  Please include schools and grades implementing each program and scope and sequence.

The Freedom of Information Act provides that if portions of a document are exempt, the remainder must be segregated and released. Therefore, I would appreciate your sending me all nonexempt portions of those records I have requested.

If you decide to withhold or delete any information, please let me know of your decision by referencing specific exemptions under the Act.  Under provisions of the Public Information Act, I reserve the right to appeal should you determine to withhold any information sought in my request.

Thank you for your cooperation. I look forward to receiving your reply within 10 business days, as provided by law.

Draw the Line/Respect the Line · Lago Vista ISD

Lago Vista ISD teaches DTL/RTL!

According to an Open Records Request, DTL/RTL adopted in 2015 passed unanimously by the Board of Trustees.  Did the Trustees read the curriculum in detail or did they “rubber stamp” the SHAC recommendation? https://www.scribd.com/document/438288815/20191119-Lago-Vista-FOIA
DTL/RTL has been analyzed and found to exhibit 11/15 Harmful Elements of Comprehensive Sex Education. https://www.comprehensivesexualityeducation.org/cse-materials-index/draw-the-line-respect-the-line/
Northeast ISD Parent Testimony – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TxlnNE9k5vQ
Herman Uses a Condom lesson can be reviewed here – Herman

 

Health TEKS · SBOE · Texas Education Code 28.004 · Texas Legislative Issues

Health TEKS Review Process

Situation: Texas State Board of Education is reviewing the Health standards, called TEKS.  The drafts all include “Sexual Risk Avoidance and Sexual Risk Reduction” as a single “substrand” under the “strand” Reproductive and Sexual Health.

Four moms testified on Wednesday, November 13, to inform the process.  After 3 minutes prepared testimony each, the Board asked the four of us to step up to the microphones for some questions.  Below are some highlights.

Prepared Testimony:

Q&A:

The workgroups will continue to work through the details of this process and a “first draft” will be reviewed by the Board at their June 2020 meeting.  Once the standards are set, then the textbook selection process will begin.

As always, the opposition (SIECUS and Texas Freedom Network) has opinions on the standards:

  • “This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to change course and adopt a medically accurate sex ed curriculum that includes information on birth control and is inclusive of LGBTQ people.”
  • “Because of the state’s size, Texas has had a major influence on the national textbook market over the years. Publishers write textbooks to conform to the Texas standards and then sell those textbooks in other states as well.”

And, of course, there is a white paper to summarize their recommendations –

Big Decisions · SOGI

Big Decisions 2016

The differences between Big Decisions 2016 and the previous version can be subtle in some areas.  But with close analysis, we see big steps towards the gender fluidity messages for young people.

For example, there is a discussion on anatomy.  Here is the introduction for the teacher to give –

anatomy slides instructions

Then the slides are labeled Reproductive System, Outside and Inside without references to Male and Female.

Teachers are told –

“It is important to maintain a safe, respectful, and inclusive learning environment for all students, including lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and students who are questioning or unsure of their orientation or gender… not all students who identify as males have a penis and testicles. Likewise, not all who identify as female have a vagina and a uterus.”

An analysis of Big Decisions shows that this Comprehensive Sex Education program contains 15 of the Harmful Elements of CSE.

https://www.comprehensivesexualityeducation.org/wp-content/uploads/15-Harmful-Elements_Big-Decisions-v2016_final-1-1.pdf

 

anatomy - outside 1

anatomy - inside 1

anatomy - outside 2

anatomy - inside 2

General · Parents

When in Doubt, Opt Out

According to the Texas Education Code 28.004, parents have the right to know what is being taught in Human Sexuality instruction and to remove their child without consequences.

If the school sends an Opt-Out form home, what do parents do with it?  What thought process goes into whether or not to include a child in the Human Sexuality instruction that has been chosen by the school district?

The current Evaluation criteria that parents use to decide whether or not to Opt-Out their student seems to include: trust in school district, peer pressure, and apathy.

Trust: Parents trust the School Districts to provide appropriate instruction.  A School District may host Parent Forums for the curriculum where parent attendance levels fluctuate sometimes based on the trust level in the district.  Occasionally, a Parent might go to the School Library to view the Curriculum in detail.  But in general, Parents seem to trust that the district is providing adequate and age-appropriate instruction.

Peer Pressure: Parents feel especially compelled to not opt-out their children because of Peer Pressure.  Our children do not want to be singled out and parents don’t want to be the responsible party in causing any undue stress on our children.  Somehow after all of these years of teaching our children to withstand peer pressure in other areas such as drugs and alcohol, we give in to the ultimate fear of being different when it comes to communal sex education.

Apathy: Apathy is the strongest power that School Districts have when it comes to our children.  Parents are too busy and too distracted to take the time to really think through whether the instruction is appropriate for our unique children and their individual maturity level.

The Opt-Out Process is full of inefficiencies without any guarantee or comfort for a discerning parent.  The student is supposed to bring home a form in a timely manner.  If a parent decides to Opt-Out their child, the form has to successfully arrive back at the school and the instructor must honor the parent’s request.  The default is that the student receives the instruction.

The Parent’s Opt-Out is too often overruled.  Teachers do not always perform the due diligence to check the forms.  Students are sometimes even given the option to stay in the room even though their parents signed the Opt-Out.  There are no consequences for the teachers or students if the parent said ‘no’ in cases when the school actually delivered the lesson.  The school could just say that they lost the form or that it wasn’t delivered.  There is no accountability in this process.

Students that currently Opt-Out are sometimes given more book work than the students that actually go through the class.  In some cases, instruction is reduced from 10 days to 4 days, but the book work is for the full 10 days.  Most of the work would be considered ‘busy work’ and sometimes includes quiz and test reviews with threats of a quiz or test at the end.  Students not only feel singled out, but they feel like the Opt-Out is a punishment.

The 83rd Texas Legislature considered an Opt-In process.  The default process would be that students would not receive any Human Sexuality instruction at school.  The assumption is that at-risk students would not return the forms and would not receive any instruction at home.  Sex Educators worry that at-risk students could miss out on a beneficial program due to the irresponsible behavior by the student or the non-participation by the parent.  Declarations that this would shut down Sex Education completely are an exaggeration.

The Opt-In process actually makes a parent stop, read, and think about whether they agree with what is being taught and maybe even do some research.  If a District wants to encourage Parental involvement, the Opt-In process is the strongest indicator of a desired partnership between the District and Parents.  The truth is that Parents sign forms for their children all the time, particularly at elementary and middle school levels.  When a student enrolls in Health class in High School, one parental consent form is reasonable and should be expected.

To make an informed decision, parents should be provided as much information as possible.  Parents should evaluate the Curriculum Material, the Instructor that will be delivering the Material, and the Peer Group that will be present during the Presentation.

Material: The School District is required to make the material available for public inspection.  Many School Districts keep the documentation in the School Library for Parents to review.  Some curricula are available online to review and even more have reviews available.  The Parents should discern the source of the reviews and financial backing of such Material.  Many curricula available are backed by Planned Parenthood.  Is it alarming to parents that an abortion provider would be supplying the Human Sexuality material to their children?  What message would this group provide a student?  Is it Sexual Risk Avoidance or Sexual Risk Reduction?  Sexual Risk Avoidance programs follow a consistent and effective public health policy to guide students to avoid risky situations and behaviors.  Sexual Risk Reduction programs, also known as Comprehensive Sex Education, assume that students are engaging in sexual activity and that condom use needs to be promoted and condom skills need to be mastered.  Parents should seek to understand as much as possible about the source of the Material.  Each District in the State of Texas should have a School Health Advisory Council (SHAC) that makes recommendations to the Board of Trustees.  Parents can seek out other Parents that are on the Council to understand what Curriculum is taught and how the District determined its appropriateness.

Instructor: Parents need to know and understand who is teaching the material and what values will be represented.  Sex Education is Character Education.  If the curriculum is supposed to be Abstinence-Only, is the instructor able to deliver a compelling message for Abstinence?  A P.E. Coach provided Abstinence-Only instruction while wearing ‘Jersey Shore’ sweatpants.  Before she showed the slide of the male anatomy, she asked the room of 6th grade girls, “What is our favorite body part?!”  The girls yelled back, “Penis!”  We should never underestimate the effect of a contradictory message during such an important subject.  Unfortunately, teachers are protected by the administration through “teacher autonomy” and can claim an affirmative defense for presenting “harmful to minor’s material” through an educational exemption in the Texas Penal Code.  Parents should never assume that Instructors will follow the scripts in the material.

Peer Group: Many programs have interactive discussions.  Some programs are merely instruction using anonymous note cards for questions.  The Instructor’s guidance through this discussion is an important part of a Parents decision.  Does the Instructor read or allow every question or is discretion built into the program and presentation?  Parents should be aware of the Peer Group that is in the room for the instruction.

An Opt-Out process is made efficient when the Parent signs the form and the Instructor sends a notification to the Parent acknowledging receipt and intent to honor the request.  I wrote ‘Please confirm receipt’ at the bottom of my child’s Opt-Out form and received such acknowledgement.  This ‘closed loop’ Opt-Out provided me with peace of mind until I learned that my child was the only student that had been singled out in the entire grade.

My hope is that discerning parents do not give in to blind trust, peer pressure, and apathy.  We should all know without any doubt that the instruction that is being provided is exactly what our child needs at that time in his/her life.  So…When in Doubt, Opt Out.

https://www.scribd.com/document/376317889/When-in-Doubt-Opt-Out

 

General · Get Real · Manor ISD · Mindfulness

2017 Manor ISD

Human Sexuality Instruction

Manor ISD has been teaching Scott & White Worth the Wait.  The handbook states that Worth the Wait will be taught, and the permission slips provided in an open records request show Worth the Wait.  However, this document indicates that Cardea Services will implement the WISE initiative and LifeWorks will provide Get Real Human Sexuality Instruction in the Middle and High Schools.

Mindfulness

Manor ISD is listed among many Texas school districts as PureEdge districts.  The Manor ISD SHAC discussed PureEdge at the March 9, 2017 SHAC Meeting.

“V. PURE Edge Professional Development
SFSS Director Becky Lott provided an overview of the Pure Edge professional development, which was provided on February 20 to the majority of PE teachers, social workers, counselors, registrars, food services staff and others and again to parents on February 21, 2017.

Pure Edge, Inc. believes that all students deserve to be taught strategies to help combat stress and develop social, emotional, and academic learning competencies with an open heart and an open mind.

This purpose of this experiential training is intended to help educators practice research-based strategies to reduce stress, calm the mind and achieve focus.
The following was covered and well received by the participants.
•Opening: Journaling check-in, chair movement and breath
•Slide Set: Pure Edge’s Mindful Movement, Breath, and Rest
•Interactive Exercises and Guided Practice

The district will be expanding this professional development in the summer and fall of 2017 to additional educators.”

School Based Health Center

Manor ISD has a school based health center. http://www.manorisd.net/apps/pages/index.jsp?uREC_ID=172114&type=d&pREC_ID=1211790