Saturday, March 18, 2006

The Un-Educators

Our illustrious Kansas State Board of Education is at it again - that is, the socially conservative, ideologically driven majority members. On Wednesday (3/15/06), the majority approved a requirement that schools would need to obtain parental permission before receiving any sex education. The general process is termed "opt-in," where forms must be sent home to parents who must then fill them out and send them back. This contrasts with the less cumbersome "opt-out" procedures that require forms to be turned in specifically if you do not want your kids to participate.

The social conservatives tout this as a means for "empowering parents" with regards to control over their own students' education. This seems a bit ludicrous and disingenuous to me, though.

If fixing a perceived power imbalance between schools and parents was really their goal, then it makes more sense to push some form of "opt-out" procedure as opposed to "opt-in." The former creates far less of a burden on our already overworked and underpaid educators, in just paperwork alone.

But this "power imbalance" doesn't really exist. School boards, administrators, and teachers are generally receptive to community/parent concerns (and note here that I do say generally as there are certainly exceptions); probably more so than ever before, if for no other reason than to simply protect themselves from litigation or other forms of community wrath.

And by the way, most schools already implement some type of formal or informal "opt-out" procedure as a means to accommodate individual parent/family concerns/beliefs, whether its sex-ed, holiday celebrations, or the like. It just requires that parents pay attention to their kids' lives and be proactive to a degree.

So to me this appears more as a ploy for the social conservatives to push their own ideological agenda as opposed to "empowering parents" or acting in the best interest of Kansas' students. Maybe these particular board members should worry more about stopping the continued decline of US student performance relative to the rest of the world than trying to keep them ignorant of what a condom is.

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