Clark County parents over the last month have been rising up in anger over potential changes to the Clark County School District’s sex-education program.
Parental fury was ignited by a detailed 121-page document that district officials handed out at closed-door, invitation-only meetings on possible revisions to CCSD’s curriculum. The document, from the Sexuality Information Education Council of the United States (SIECUS) — was used to solicit input on what to teach students from Kindergarten to 12th grade about various topics relating to sexuality.
Many of the so-called “Developmental Messages” sparked outrage among parents. Some of the suggested messages for “Level 1 – Ages 5—8” students included:
- “Touching and rubbing one’s own genitals to feel good is called masturbation,” page 57.
- “The most common ways for a person to get an STD is to participate in sexual behavior …”, page 86.
- “Some people are homosexual, which means they can be attracted to and fall in love with someone of the same gender,” page 10.
- “Vaginal intercourse — when a penis is placed inside the vagina — is the most common way for a sperm and egg to join,” page 6.
Once word leaked out about what was being considered, district officials, including Superintendent Pat Skorkowsky, immediately began back-pedaling. In a blog post that has since been removed from CCSD’s website, but is still cached by Google, Skorkowsky wrote that “We are not, nor have we ever, considered teaching masturbation to kindergartens.”
While CCSD’s board of trustees is holding a meeting tonight to restart its process for review of its sex-ed standards, the whole incident demonstrates exactly why school choice is so necessary.
To think that there is one approach to teaching over 300,000 students about sex that can meet the needs of every student and respect the values of every family is absurd. Because every child is unique, when and how each receives sex education needs to sensitively vary as well.
Such individualized consideration is not possible when seven school board members make choices for over 300,000 students that they don’t even know.
Parents know their children best. Parents understand what values they want to impart to their children, and these values differ from family to family. Trying to create a one-size-fits-all template into which small children are to be pressed will always leave large groups of parents dissatisfied and upset.
That’s part of the reason for school choice: It empowers parents, letting them redirect some of the money government is already spending on education — say $7,000 per student — and choose the school and school type that’s best for their children.
Parents then can select a school based on both its academics and how it reflects the parents’ values.
Along with better reflecting the values of parents, school choice has numerous academic benefits. As The Friedman Foundation’s Greg Forster, Ph.D. writes:
Twelve empirical studies have examined academic outcomes for school choice participants using random assignment, the “gold standard” of social science. Of these, 11 find that choice improves student outcomes — six that all students benefit and five that some benefit and some are not affected. One study finds no visible impact. No empirical study has found a negative impact.
“Twenty-three empirical studies (including all methods) have examined school choice’s impact on academic outcomes in public schools. Of these, 22 find that choice improves public schools and one finds no visible impact. No empirical study has found that choice harms public schools.
So parents should definitely speak up and let the school board know their opinions on any proposed sex-ed curriculum.
No matter what decision the school board makes, however, many parents will be unhappy. That’s just the nature of top-down, one-size-fits-all government “solutions.”
So the genuine solution for parents concerned about explicit changes to CCSD’s sex-ed curriculum — or any other district craziness — is not having the school district simply select a different standard.
No, the real solution that we, as parents, need is our own empowerment — so that we can select the school and type of school that provides the kind of curriculum that’s best for each of our individual children.
Victor Joecks is executive vice president of the Nevada Policy Research Institute, a non-partisan, free-market think tank. For more visit http://npri.org.