Blogging Bayport Alameda

May 1, 2009

Lesson Planning: Kindergarten

Filed under: Alameda, School — Tags: — Lauren Do @ 7:19 am

As I continue to struggle with some of the objections over the Elementary School Caring School Curriculum I thought it would be a helpful exercise, at least for myself, to go over each grade lesson plan individually to try and sort out where the objections lie.  

Mike McMahon has continually updated his email comments on his site to reflect the support and opposition to the plan which is worth a read.

For the Kindergarten plan, I believe that there should be zero objections, but as with most things assuming often gets you the exactly opposite results.   So this is what the school district had planned for the youngest amongst the students at AUSD:

Title: Becoming a Welcoming Classroom

About the Welcoming Class Meeting:

A welcoming class meeting is an introductory lesson to help students understand what makes children feel welcome. And, to discover what the effect is of unwelcoming behavior, such as hurtful teasing, name calling and exclusion.

Book:  The New Girl…and Me by Jacqui Robbins.  The story of the book is, as described on Amazon.com:

…When the new girl, Shakeeta, introduces herself by telling the class, “I have an iguana,” Mia is intrigued. Even so, her shyness holds her back from making overtures; later, though, when a bully bars both Shakeeta and Mia from playing soccer, the pair strike up a conversation about iguanas and the girls become fast friends…

Vocabulary:

  • Name calling
  • Exclude
  • Hurtful
  • Teasing
  • Different
  • Similar
  • Comfortable

The Lesson:

1. Gather in a circle and introduce “Welcome”
Students come with a partner to the circle. Briefly review the class meeting rules. Remind the students that everyone likes to feel welcome and supported at school, whether they are new to the school or not. Also, remind them that no one likes to be teased or called hurtful words.

2. Discuss what it means to feel welcome at school.
Explain that the students will talk about times they’ve felt welcome and the times when their feelings might have been hurt. Point out that this can be a difficult topic to talk about and that you would like the students to focus on listening and responding in a caring way.

  • Ask students for examples

3. Discuss what it means to feel unwelcome at school

  • Ask students for examples

4. Read the book aloud “The New Girl and Me “

Discuss, asking these questions:

  • Have any of you ever been new to a classroom, join a team or go to an event where you didn’t know anyone?
  • What did DJ do or say that made Shakeeta feel unwelcome or “not at home”?
  • Has anyone ever seen an iguana? What does it look like? Eat?
  • What finally made Shakeeta feel welcome?

Activity:

  • Using the writing prompt, “I can help others feel welcome by…” ask students to respond verbally to this.
  • Have students return to their desks to draw a welcoming picture.
  • Upon completion, bring students back to the circle to share and comment.
  • Display pictures around the room or in the hallway.

After all this the teachers will be expected to summarize what the students have said and then go over the importance of being welcoming.

I’m guessing that the majority of people will find this particular lesson plan acceptable and age appropriate.   But as once suggested by Chuck Berry, you never can tell.

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53 Comments

  1. If the process is mirco-scrutiny then I will point to the children being expected to come to the circle with a partner. That right there creates an unnecessary situation for some kind of awkwardness. There may be 20 to a classroom, but if one is sick, it’s an odd kid out situation. Especially with small children shouldn’t we avoid setting them up. You know the situation where two captains pick teams one kid at a time and somebody gets to be last?

    Comment by M.I. — May 1, 2009 @ 8:25 am

  2. THE ALTERNATIVE TO THE REVISED LGBT CURRICULUM

    ISSUE: The third version of the “Safe Schools” Curriculum: Addressing Issues of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (dated April 24) is an improvement on earlier versions, but will not achieve the AUSD’s goal of a “safe and welcoming atmosphere for all students”.

    WHY THE APRIL 24 VERSION OF “SAFE SCHOOLS” IS INAPPROPRIATE

    The proposed lessons for Kindergarten and Grade One contain too much intimate detail about families and nothing about the other issues that make children vulnerable to bullying.
    The proposed lessons for Grade Two to Five promote homosexuality and ignore the other forms of discrimination schools must provide a safe learning environment for: sex, ethnic group identification, race, national origin, religion, color, or mental or physical disability.
    “And Tango Makes Three” should not be given to children in Grade Two, as it is about adult love and making babies.[i] It is also academically flawed because it claims to be fact, but the omission of the end of the story is dishonest. The temporary and artificial nature of this family arrangement is not revealed. In reality, one of the father penguins left and found a female partner elsewhere. The “family” and the homosexuality ended.
    Third Grade students are to be indoctrinated with two hours on “developing sensitivity to gay and lesbian family structures”. Children will watch a DVD that explains how two women have a baby, and take home questions for their parents. This violates the spirit of the laws that protect parental rights regarding sex education, but does not improve school safety.
    The proposed lesson for Grade Four only teaches empathy and being an ally in the context of homosexuality (and teenagers). Children like Jacob Parker (the first grade boy who was beaten up by 8-10 children because his parents complained that the school failed to notify them before teaching homosexual romance and marriage)[ii] also need empathy and allies.
    Fourth Grade children should not be forced to stand under a sign that indicates their comfort level in doing various things to support a person from a homosexual family. Many children in Alameda have families with cultures, traditions, or religions that believe heterosexuality is the way nature intended and these children are entitled to privacy (so they don’t get bullied).
    Fourth Grade children should not be told to brainstorm “name calling” because it will give bullies more ammunition and corrupt innocent children. Three of the vocabulary words for Fourth Grade and five of the vocabulary words for Fifth Grade don’t belong in the curriculum until Seventh Grade (CA Health Content Standards).
    Instead of teaching kindness to all, the Fifth Grade lesson teaches admiration for “gay” people by identifying them with the “gay” celebrities. What about kindness to “uncool” kids?
    The definition for “homophobia” given in the two AUSD documents promoting the first and second versions of this curriculum is political. The documents start out claiming homophobia is the same as bias (“phobia” actually means “irrational fear”) and conclude with the California Safe Schools Coalition’s homophobia table. The Coalition’s website says they have a Law and Policy workgroup and a long-term legislative agenda. Why join this?
    The proposed curriculum does not conform to the second of “Governor Schwarzenegger’s Education Principles,” because it is not “rigorous, standards-aligned, and research-based.”
    It contains the same political message as the earlier two versions and the documents that promoted them. The information to be given to children is not based on facts.[iii]
    APPROPRIATE ALTERNATIVE IMPROVEMENT TO CSC CURRICULUM

    Assembly Bill 537 recommends schools integrate sexual orientation issues into mainstream curriculum. The best way to do that is to expand the current general lessons on teasing and bullying. Caring School Community (CSC) has one lesson on teasing and bullying for K-1 and two lessons on teasing and bullying for Grades 2-6.
    Zero tolerance for any bullying needs to be taught to all. This should provide practical information to help empower all victims to defend themselves (without weapons)[iv] and empower all bullies to control their behavior, regardless of the issue. Basic conflict resolution theory shows that those in the role of victim, persecutor and rescuer can change over time.
    Bullying prevention lessons should not make any assumptions about who will be victims or why. There may be multiple reasons why a child is bullied and it may be unrelated to the name calling. For example, a boy might be bullied more because he is from a poor family, shy, lacks bladder control, or has a big head. If he is not very sporty, children might start calling him “gay”, but he would not benefit from the proposed ‘LGBT” lessons.
    The attached text from the Health Education Content Standards for California Public Schools (CA Department of Education, March 2008) may be used as a guide for expanding the CSC anti-bullying lessons. It is applicable to all possible victims of bullying. There is no mention of sexual orientation because the Content Standards do not introduce this until Grade 7.
    RECOMMENDATIONS FOR THE BOARD

    Thank the committee for their work and decline approval for “Safe Schools” Curriculum: Addressing Issues of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity.
    Create a “common ground taskforce”, as suggested in the document “Public Schools and Sexual Orientation” (found on Mike McMahon’s website). Education officials, teachers and parents should set the example by being civil to those with whom they disagree.
    Give the committee the task of expanding the “Teasing” and “Bullying” lessons within the current Caring School Community curriculum, ready for the start of the 2010 school year.
    CONCLUSION

    The proposed sexual orientation curriculum should be rejected because it will not make schools safe and welcoming for all students. Alameda’s public elementary schools can implement anti-discrimination laws without sacrificing academics to social engineering.

    HEALTH EDUCATION CONTENT STANDARDS FOR CA PUBLIC SCHOOLS CA DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION, MARCH 2008

    KINDERGARTEN

    Describe school rules about getting along with others.
    Recognize the characteristics of bullying.
    Tell an adult if someone is being bullied.
    GRADE ONE

    Define simple conflict resolution techniques.
    GRADE TWO

    Discuss how to show respect for similarities and differences between and among individuals and groups.
    Describe how to work and play cooperatively.
    Use decision-making process for solving problems with peers and family members.
    Show respect for individual differences.
    Support peers in school and community activities.
    GRADE THREE

    Discuss the importance of setting (and ways to set) personal boundaries for privacy, safety, and expression of emotions.
    Describe internal and external factors that affect friendships and family relationships.
    Identify how to show respect for individual differences.
    Demonstrate how to communicate directly, respectfully, and assertively regarding personal boundaries.
    Examine why a variety of behaviors promote healthy growth and development.
    Promote a positive and respectful school environment.
    Object appropriately to teasing of peers and family members that is based on personal characteristics.
    Demonstrate the ability to support and respect people with differences.
    GRADE FOUR

    Identify behaviors that may lead to conflict with others.
    Describe the different types of bullying and harassment.
    Examine the effects of bullying and harassment on others.
    Describe ways to seek assistance if worried, abused, or threatened.
    Explain how courtesy, compassion, and respect toward others reduce conflict and promote nonviolent behavior.
    Analyze how emotions contribute to both safe and violent behaviors.
    Examine the influence of violence in media and technology on health behavior. Explain that most young people do not use violence to deal with problems.
    Demonstrate the ability to use refusal skills in risky situations.
    Practice effective conflict resolution techniques with others.
    Report bullying, harassment, and other dangerous situations.
    Demonstrate refusal skills to avoid gang involvement.
    Demonstrate what to say and do when witnessing bullying.
    Evaluate strategies to avoid potentially dangerous situations.
    Examine the consequences of bullying and harassment.
    Analyze the benefits of using nonviolent means to resolve conflicts.
    Evaluate how following family, school, and community rules can impact safety.
    Demonstrate strategies to avoid bullying and other types of harassment.
    Encourage specific measures to improve home or school safety.
    Offer friendship and support to someone who was bullied.
    GRADE FIVE

    Recognize that everyone has the right to establish personal boundaries. Recognize that friendship, attraction, and affection can be expressed in different ways.
    Use healthy and respectful ways to express friendship, attraction, and affection. Demonstrate refusal skills to protect personal boundaries.
    Describe the importance of identifying personal boundaries.
    Analyze why it is safe to be a friend to someone who is living with HIV or AIDS.
    ——————————————————————————–

    [i] This book has topped the American Library Association’s list of the Most Frequently Challenged Books for three years, with readers citing that it is “unsuited to the age group”. http://www.ala.org/ala/newspresscenter/news/pressreleases2009/april2009/nlw08bbtopten.cfm
    [ii] “Judge Orders Gay Agenda Taught to Christian Children”, WorldNetDaily, February 24, 2007 [iii] Compare the following two documents:
    “The Non-Factsheet” by Dale O’Leary, Dean Byrd, Ph.D., Richard Fitzgibbons, M.D., August 2008
    http://www.narth.com/docs/nonFactSSAEducDale.pdf and
    “Just the Facts About Sexual Orientation and Youth: A Primer for Principals, Educators, and School Personnel” by Just The Facts Coalition, 2008 http://www.apa/org/pi/lgbc/publications/justthefacts.html
    [iv] “… pupils who are harassed based on actual or perceived sexual orientation are at least three times more likely to carry a weapon to school…” Assembly Bill 394, Section 1 (g) February 15, 2007. (“Safe Place to Learn Act”)

    Comment by realistic parent — May 1, 2009 @ 9:53 am

  3. I guess if you are a lesbian, or you want to dress your little boy like a little girl, you like the curriculum. However, if you are a normal parent who wants to send their kids to a normal school, you think that this gay agenda being pushed upon our kids is ridiculous. There must be a lot of lesbians pulling the puppet strings of our elected officials to make this happen …

    Comment by Jeff R. Thomason — May 1, 2009 @ 3:13 pm

  4. To the points made by “realistic parent” ~ What exactly is the “intimate detail” about families that is of concern in the kindergarten lesson? And aren’t both being a new kid and being left out of a (soccer) game “issues that make children vulnerable to bullying”? Please explain.

    Comment by tolerant parent — May 1, 2009 @ 3:23 pm

  5. While this wasn’t my letter, let me help you fathom a guess.

    Imagine the scene – a kindergarten room with 20 or so 5 year olds…
    Teacher:
    Please kids everyone get a partner and lets sit together on the blue rug. Okay boys and girls; everyone of you will describe to all of us what situations in your life you remember when you felt really really uncomfortable, – what really hurts your feelings? ..And don’t hold back, I’m sure ‘lil Sigmund here will never use what you tell us to taunt, tease or provoke you.
    (Because just like grownups 5 year olds are known to always be respectful of the feelings and sensibilities of their peers, especially when the adults with authority aren’t around…)

    …And all K-5 teachers have psychology or psychiatry degrees?

    Comment by David Kirwin — May 1, 2009 @ 3:57 pm

  6. Dear David, so according to your example at least, there actually isn’t any “intimate detail about families” being “taught”. And your example also provides a (contrived) illustration of how children may talk about “issues that make (them) vulnerable to bullying”.

    Thanks much for making my point.

    Comment by tolerant parent — May 1, 2009 @ 5:28 pm

  7. Dear Tolerant,

    So sorry to not be able to help you understand what I thought was the issue you inquired about.

    While my contrived scenario was indeed a fiction, I disagree that what is ‘taught’ only comes out of the teachers mouth, and nothing from peer groups, or other sources has anything to do with what is ‘taught’ in a classroom.

    It is not my interpretation of the AUSD Goals leading to this proposal that it should be encouraged to teach students to be victims. Perhaps you can explain why you perceive it to be a benefit as it is a theme repeated throughout the lessons of many grades.

    Staff said the ‘crumple doll cutout’ was a lesson that could be used repeatedly – the lesson there is that if someone calls you a name, you are scarred for life. Trust me – this is NOT what I teach my children! I feel terribly sad to think intelligent people would think it wise to teach children that self value is dependant on constant positive reinforcement from others. I would rather try to teach kids that they are valued for their actions, that good deeds speak louder than words, that what you think of yourself is more important than what others may say about you. Empathy is empty without independent thinking. To teach lapdog or doormat behavior to get positive strokes from others is wrong. This is already far too common, especially for young women seeking male acceptance. There are many ways this curriculum falls fatally short of a positive target. It should be rejected.

    Comment by DAvid Kirwin — May 1, 2009 @ 7:33 pm

  8. The school district needs to spend less effort attempting to control the environment and more effort teaching kids to rise above their surroundings. They are effectively making our kids soft in a world that is not. This will leave them completely unprepared for reality. Well … at least we still have the Boy Scouts.

    Comment by Jeff R. Thomason — May 1, 2009 @ 8:51 pm

  9. There are a lot of interesting points made here.

    I think that “demystification” of vocabulary is the larger scope of what the curricula try to address. Ultimately, that may be a good thing. Is the current set of curricula ideal for that, perhaps not.

    So here is a question we could fruitfully weigh. Is it better to try nothing than to try something that we know will need to be constantly evaluated and changed as we move forward in time?

    For example, do you parents out there teach/train/nurture your second or third child exactly in the same manner that you did for your first (eldest)?

    I would venture to say that you don’t. Each child is different, for example, and sometimes the same issues don’t come up.

    The weakness in the suggested curricula that I see is that there is a great deal of weight on vocabulary that children may not be ready to understand. When that is the case, you deal with kids who sit and listen attentively, but don’t absorb what is being said.

    And no one has brought this up, but it is also possible that the aggressive children will be armed to do more damage.

    It is doubtful that these types of programs can eliminate unwanted behavior issues beyond the classroom. As I have noted elsewhere, the behavior of bullies becomes more covert, and they can become more clever about how they pursue their targets.

    It may be more effective to teach children about what it is to be human and how important it is to respect all life, than to force a specific vocabulary list with imagined age appropriate meanings that everyone does not agree with.

    Still, I think the experiment is laudable. It needs to be completely recognized, however, that it IS an experiment and that the expected results are UNKNOWN. What I mean is that there is a sense that the curricula are meant to solve a set of problems, but this is actually unknown–it may create a new set of problems or even exacerbate the existing problems.

    I just hope that the people who have spearheaded this realize that the program is not something you can create and then just throw out there. It needs constant evaluation and revision. Teacher and parent input is crucial to the success of any of this.

    Developing evaluation tools for this program could be extremely difficult.

    Comment by E T — May 2, 2009 @ 9:23 am

  10. Friends,

    The posts opposing the current addition to AUSD’s ant-bullying curriculum here contain some errors of fact and interpretation that I would like to address:

    #2a: “The proposed lessons for Grade Two to Five promote homosexuality and ignore the other forms of discrimination schools must provide a safe learning environment for: sex, ethnic group identification, race, national origin, religion, color, or mental or physical disability.”

    The current proposed LGBT-specific curriculum is an addition to AUSD’s existing curricula that address sex, ethnicity, etc. It does NOT ignore any other type of bullying, harassment, or discrimination, and it is not being proposed in isolation. 


    #2b:“’And Tango Makes Three’” …is about adult love and making babies….“Many children in Alameda have families with cultures, traditions, or religions that believe heterosexuality is the way nature intended and these children are entitled to privacy (so they don’t get bullied).”

    “Tango” is about penguins, not humans. And there is ample biological research literature documenting that for hundreds of species, “normal” sexual behavior (I use “normal” in the scientific sense here) includes homosexuality, heterosexuality, and sometimes both behaviors in the same individual over time:

    Children and parents with “different” religious views are already protected from bullying and abuse under existing statutes, AUSD polices, and in-school programs, not to mention the First Amendment. This is highly appropriate.

    But “nature” does not always support religious claims, and biology research cannot be used justify the belief that “nature” only includes heterosexuality. (Nature and biological reality both include homosexuality, regardless of what religious dogma cklaims.)

    #7: “…The lesson there is that if someone calls you a name, you are scarred for life…. To teach lapdog or doormat behavior to get positive strokes from others is wrong.”

    #8: “The school district needs to spend less effort attempting to control the environment and more effort teaching kids to rise above their surroundings. They are effectively making our kids soft in a world that is not. This will leave them completely unprepared for reality. Well … at least we still have the Boy Scouts.”

    #9: “…it is also possible that the aggressive children will be armed to do more damage.”

    The goal of this curriculum is to eliminate (or at least decrease) the amount of bullying and harassment against LGBT students and families by reducing the bullying behavior on the part of “schoolyard oppressors.” Just like existing policies and curricula are aimed at reducing abuse because of race, gender, religion, etc.

    Schoolyard bullies often “act out” because they themselves are hurting or feel inadequate. Teachers and volunteers are not King Solomon: their first job is to stop the abusive behavior: disarm the bully, end the violence.

    Teachers can then offer alternative behaviors to both perpetrators and victims. This curriculum is NOT encouraging kids to be victims, but rather to help them stand firm against aggressive and inappropriate behavior by their peers. If you do not offer kids a sound and principled platform of mutual acceptance and respect (an alternative to violence and abuse) to stand on, they will remain victims who are less able to stand on their own with integrity.

    As to the Boy Scouts (I was both a Star Scout and an adult leader), it is certainly not offering any “strengthening” or “toughness” to boys who happen to be gay. Is excluding and degrading others really helpful? friendly? courteous? kind? cheerful? brave? clean? reverent? (Nope.)

    The BSA remains a perpetrator of violence against gays by virtue of its rigid and exclusionary example, which supports the kind of bullying and harassment that every poster here claims to support. And we won’t even mention the BSA’s exclusion of girls…

    Comment by Jon Spangler — May 2, 2009 @ 2:05 pm

  11. Jon,

    I think you tend to generalize a lot, but I’m not sure what you have to back it up.

    Comment by Friend — May 2, 2009 @ 2:51 pm

  12. #10 Your ignorance would be laughable if it wasn’t so spiteful, hurtful and damaging.

    And you are not content just to bash the opinions and beliefs others, you now also dismiss whole religions, and now even the BSA is not acceptable in ‘Spangler World’. Obviously ‘Spangler World’ is very exclusive despite the espoused tolerance of its creator.

    …And BTW the BSA does have programs for girls. Obviously not called ‘Boy’ Scouts, “Venture Crew” is one of those programs, and under the BSA umbrella. ‘Venturing’ is open to boys and girls age 14 – maybe 21,. (I’m not sure of the age cap, I think it is meant to go older than the Boy Scout program which ends at adulthood – the reason ‘Eagle Scout rank must be achieved before one’s 18th birthday)

    While it may be officially a National BSA policy to not accept gays (it was at one time) I challenge you to find a BSA Troop that will not accept any boy. Boy Scouts are 11 – 17 years old – at what age do kids self-determine they are gay? Obviously Corporate BSA must have a policy to protect young campers, and just like various churches and the US congress BSA has had its share of damaging publicity in regards to inappropriate sexual behavior.

    Jon, you’ve just got to learn to be more accepting of things that aren’t Spangler World certified.

    When you can’t tolerate what others show or opine, perhaps you could present your views with the benefit of supporting facts, when they exist.

    Comment by David Kirwin — May 2, 2009 @ 3:49 pm

  13. #10 ERRATA:

    The link I had included in post #10 did not make it when I pasted the copy into the comment window.
    Here it is, in context. (The link follows the colon below.)

    **“Tango” is about penguins, not humans. And there is ample biological research literature documenting that for hundreds of species, “normal” sexual behavior (I use “normal” in the scientific sense here) includes homosexuality, hetero sexuality, and sometimes both behaviors in the same individual over time:

    http://seedmagazine.com/content/article/the_gay_animal_kingdom/

    Children and parents with “different” religious views are already protected from bullying and abuse under existing statutes, AUSD polices, and in-school programs, not to mention the First Amendment. This is highly appropriate.

    But “nature” does not always support religious claims, and biology research cannot be used justify the belief that “nature” only includes heterosexuality. (Nature and biological reality both include homosexuality, regardless of what religious dogma claims.)**

    NOTE: In an effort to not burden the readers of this blog, I am only posting one link, but there is a wealth of published and fully vetted scientific literature behind it. (You can also talk at length with a leading theoretical biologist from Stanford University about this topic, as I have.)

    Comment by Jon Spangler — May 2, 2009 @ 7:04 pm

  14. #12:

    I am a Christian and an active Episcopalian of almost 50 years. I do not “dismiss whole religions,” including my own, which I take quite seriously.

    I take oppression and discrimination seriously, too, for Biblical reasons. You know, “judge not, lest ye be judged,” “love one another as I have loved you,” “as you have done unto the least of these my brethren, you have (or have not) done it to me,” and all that stuff.

    Comment by Jon Spangler — May 2, 2009 @ 9:23 pm

  15. I will take “SPANGLER WORLD” over the garbge that D.K. and J.R.T. spew on this blog any day.
    Jon you are a good person and there are many people in Alameda who respect what you say and how live your life. Don”t get to caught up with these clowns, they do not represent Alameda.

    Comment by John Piziali — May 3, 2009 @ 8:32 pm

  16. Calm down Pizzali, take a deep breath, try to visualize something peaceful. Your angry tirades do not help us to resolve the situation but only serve to impede civil discourse. Now be a good little troll and go paint something with your “apprentice” :-)

    Comment by Jeff R. Thomason — May 4, 2009 @ 7:56 am

  17. Mr. Spangler, please note that the boy scouts are doing much more for girls than girl scouts are doing for boys. I say this only to illustrate my point, not to slam the wonderful organization of girl scouts, which has been a large part of my daughter’s life. There is no reason why boys and girls shouldn’t have their own *clubs*, so to speak, but I applaud the boy scouts for making room for the girls — including my own daughter.

    To suggest that all scout troops/packs don’t allow gay or lesbian families to join is ridiculous. Every LGBT family that I know in scouting has not been barred from joining boys scouts based on their sexual orientation, or any other reason. On the contrary, they have been welcomed with open arms. Our boy scout experience has been such a positive one, and we have been blessed with so many families from so many walks of life who have made our pack stronger.

    It appears that in order to end discrimination and bigotry towards one group, you are practicing and encouraging discrimination and bigotry towards another. As one Episcopalian to another, you have to stop this … you’re making us all look bad!

    Hopefully this has helped clear up some terrible misconceptions that are posted here, and the practice of lumping everyone under one label because they belong to a particular organization/community will stop. Neither of these groups are populated with Nazis, terrorist or hate-mongers running amok. Open your mind. Open your heart. See the good that is right in front of you.

    (PS – JRT, name calling is a bully tactic. I’m calling you out on this one. Hopefully you will own your mistake and move on. – M.O.M.)

    Comment by M.O.M. — May 4, 2009 @ 12:27 pm

  18. M.O.M,

    It is not “bigotry” to discuss the facts.

    My criticism of the Boy Scouts was specifically directed at the BSA’s official anti-homosexual policy:

    “We believe an avowed homosexual is not a role model for the values espoused in the Scout Oath and Law.” (http://www.scouting.org/Media/PressReleases/2000/000628.aspx)

    None of my comments against the BSA’s policies take anything away from the considerable good done for young people by Scouting’s leaders (who included myself, years ago). But, IMHO, the worthy efforts of scout leaders are hampered, not helped, by such policies.

    The BSA officially discriminates as a matter of policy: read the public record. And I criticized them here because official policies like theirs are de facto discrimination and they support the very bullying and harassment we are discussing.

    Comment by Jon Spangler — May 4, 2009 @ 3:52 pm

  19. So Jon,
    In your willingness to discuss the ‘facts'; are you also willing address the ways the proposal fails to meet the goals and requirements of AB 394 and 537? No opinions, just facts.

    Comment by no discrimination — May 4, 2009 @ 4:26 pm

  20. This discussion is all very familiar to us in Minneapolis, due to the HRC’s promotion of their Welcoming Schools Curriculum (WS) in our school district. Parents who have opposed WS have been bullied by the our local elementary school (Hale), parents, and community members. For her opposition, one parent was banned from Hale school, where her son was a student in 2008. When she went to the school to discuss this action, the principal had the Minneapolis Police issue her a criminal trespass citation. Diversity is a wonderful thing, as long as we all agree, right? Never have I seen a greater failure to respect diversity than through opposition to the WS. I once considered diversity to be a respect of our differences and finding common ground. Now, diversity seems more like dividing ourselves up into our protected classes, forcing our agenda, and claiming that anyone daring to oppose our agenda hates us. Opposing a K-4 curriculum is just that, it is not a statement against any person or their choices.

    Regarding the Alameda District’s approach, I think they are setting you up to consider opt-out a victory, when that is their end game. They know that not many families will opt out. Opt-out is a very divisive way to implement a curriculum, and it is typically not handled well by the school, perhaps by design. The kid gets labeled, the family gets labeled, and at Hale the kids get to go to the principal’s office for a special lesson. Opt-in is not considered a good option for curriculum supporters, because lost are all those kids whose take-home notices stay crumpled in the bottom of the backpack. That works in favor of an opt-out notice, and Hale sent the notices two days before the opt-out deadline.

    Stand firm, even though you are a minority. The minority still has a voice in America, right? Many who don’t approve of this curriculum will not oppose it. Some will consider it just another thing to un-teach their child when they get home from school. Others will fear being labeled as a hater, or offending a friend, neighbor, or family member. Disagreement does not equal hate; it is a cheap defense mechanism, which you should not accept. You are opposing a curriculum; you have a right to do that.

    Comment by Minneapolis Parent — May 23, 2009 @ 5:40 am

  21. #20 If someone is banned from a public school, simply for having an opposing point of view, that’s ridiculous.

    On a different point, if your optionally-selected belief system puts you in conflict with values that wider society has accepted (and codified in their legal system), you’ve picked yourself a tough row to hoe.

    If you believe that LGBT families are wrong / immoral / invalid, it’s incumbent on you to figure out how to resolve your position within the society you live in. It’s not society’s job to figure it out for you, or bend its values to fit your belief system, or censor factual content from the school curriculum so as not to offend your beliefs.

    California provides individuals an out in the form of the private school system. They’re legally free to discriminate as they wish when it comes to LGBT issues.

    Comment by Andy Currid — May 23, 2009 @ 10:11 am

  22. Andy,

    I’m sure there was more going on in Minneapolis that we don’t know about that resulted in the police being called. What a shame.

    At this point to keep insisting that there are only a few of us opposing this curriculum is not only wrong, it is delusional. There are a great number of “quiet” families that oppose these lessons, and even at the school where my children attend alongside your children.

    I hope the School Board rejects this devisive curriculum on Tuesday. And if/when that happens I hope we can all work together to solve the substantial problems our district is facing.

    Comment by loves my public school — May 23, 2009 @ 8:19 pm

  23. Jon,
    Please stop using “IMHO” because you are clearly not ‘H’. To be humble you must be teachable and willing to listen to others. You clearly think your perspective is more valid than that of others which is the antithesis of “humble”. As a ‘professional writer’, you should understand and use your words a little better.

    Comment by David Kirwin — May 23, 2009 @ 8:40 pm

  24. Andy,

    It seems you have missed important civic lessons on the US Constitution. Religion is protected. Even if you don’t like that, it is the supreme law of our country, above State law. It’s astonishing that you disrespect the core of our freedom on Memorial Day weekend. When you should be remembering the ultimate sacrifice others have made to preserve our rights and liberties, you chose to ignore the rights of one group so a school district can be pushed to impose on one group’s supremely protected rights to further the political aims of another group. (LGBT groups have no legal ‘right’ to this proposed curriculum; therefore it is a ‘political aim’.)

    By rejecting this proposal no one is negating the rights of gays. No one is making them “invisible”. It is simply a bad set of lessons which also violates the protected rights of one group while doing nothing for any of the federally protected classes of citizens. It was also put together in a deceitful and undemocratic manner. It also fails to meet the requirements of AB 397, which the district erroneously cited as the legal impetus for this proposal. It also doesn’t train all staff, not even all teachers, how to deal with student -student harassment.

    There have been far too many seemingly deliberate untruths told by the committee and AUSD staff to the press, the BOE, and the public. This has created a horrendous obstacle for community trust, and is a problem which must be addressed. The motivation to achieve a desired result does not allow public employees to lie to their superiors or their financiers.

    If the BOE makes the mistake of approving this curriculum rather than using good judgment and creative thinking to initiate a better solution, they will destroy this school district and leave the community divided and without the means for the community to come together to achieve a better program as a unified team.

    The BOE must be willing to trust this community to work together rather than dictatorially forcing a bad curriculum.

    I urge all to spend time reviewing what others have done to achieve positive outcomes, such as SF school district which started with a committee which represented all of the community and has far better programs and very explict ‘do’s and don’ts for students, parents and staff. They explain how staff and teachers are to intervene. And SF is just one better example. There are wealth of superior programs that address all forms of harassment.

    Comment by David Kirwin — May 23, 2009 @ 8:42 pm

  25. Ridiculous, indeed, but I mention this instance of bullying, and there are others, to offer a preview of the battle that may lie ahead in the Alameda School District.

    #21: Please be specific regarding the values wider society has accepted and codified. The videos (companion material to WS) that we previewed, at the parent meeting we forced our school to hold, showed LGBT families, but failed to mention that the parents were not nor could they be married in Minnesota (nor California).

    The goal of the LGBT curriculum claim to be safe schools, but fail (“censorship of factual content”) to inform children of the health risks of a homosexual lifestyle. Each time I donate a unit a blood, I am asked if I have had sex with a man, even once, since 1977. Were I to answer yes, my blood would be disqualified from the blood supply. The medical community understands the risk of male homosexual behavior. Would we not be derelict in our responsibility to our children, as parents and educators, if we did not warn children of this risk?

    A “Safe Schools” bill passed the Minnesota state house and senate this year, but was vetoed by Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty yesterday (5/23/09).

    This blog includes information regarding Minnesota safe schools legislation and information about the Minneapolis WS battle.

    http://www.blogcatalog.com/blog/stop-welcoming-schools

    Comment by Minneapolis Parent — May 24, 2009 @ 5:51 am

  26. #25
    “Each time I donate a unit a blood, I am asked if I have had sex with a man, even once, since 1977. Were I to answer yes, my blood would be disqualified from the blood supply.”

    That must mean that a lot of women cannot donate blood in Minnesota.

    Is it still snowing there?

    Comment by AlamedaNayTiff — May 24, 2009 @ 7:33 am

  27. Because I am a man, I am only asked the male questions. I don’t know what questions are asked of women, but I know they don’t ask that one. Understand? You might have gotten that from the context of my message, particularly the words “the risk of male homosexual behavior”.

    Comment by Minneapolis Parent — May 24, 2009 @ 8:16 am

  28. You folks in Minnesota shouldn’t be talking about unhealthy behavior considering what you eat. Yuck! If you are concerned about a healthy lifestyle, try eating some fresh food.

    Comment by AlamedaNayTiff — May 24, 2009 @ 8:45 am

  29. #26 ANT, “That must mean that a lot of women cannot donate blood in Minnesota.”

    Probably not. Have you seen the men there?

    Comment by notadave — May 24, 2009 @ 3:44 pm

  30. #25 — You want us to tell elementary school-aged children about the risks of male gay sex?

    That’s not appropriate — elementary school-aged children are far too young to be learning about sexual activity. That’s why the proposed curriculum never discusses such activity, just family structures.

    But when the children are older, yes, they should learn about the health risks of unprotected male gay sex, as well as the risks of unprotected heterosexual sex — e.g., chlamydia, syphilis, gonorrhea, unwanted pregnancy, and AIDS.

    Comment by not hysterical — May 24, 2009 @ 3:52 pm

  31. AlamedaNayTiff:

    The childish off-topic comments indicate to me that you have nothing to add to the conversation.

    The family structures education leads to more questions than it answers. The children are not ready for the sex lesson or the family structures education that leads to it. If you disagree, provide that education to your children at home.

    The screening for blood donation does not distinguish between protected and unprotected male homosexual sex. The only heterosexual sex question is about having sex with someone who has had sex with a man who has had sex with man since 1977.

    In Minneapolis, the LGBT family structures the children are shown seem overly positive, in comparison to other alternate family forms.

    The movie “That’s a Family” is a companion piece to WS. In the movie, the boy with two fathers is preparing for and hosting a birthday party. They have a fine and loving home, filled with family and friends. What boy wouldn’t want two fathers, after watching that story? In contrast stands the African American alternative family form. Both parents are absent, and the children help the grandmother haul the dirty clothes to the coin laundry. Racist? I think so. The portrayal is definitely as negative as the LGBT family was positive.

    Comment by Minneapolis Parent — May 25, 2009 @ 5:27 pm

  32. “The childish off-topic comments indicate to me that you have nothing to add to the conversation.”

    I am like soooooooooooo offended! Why does someone thousands of miles away in Frost Bite Falls think that they should have a say in our public school system?

    If you want to stick your nose in here, then we certainly have the right to comment on your unhealthy diet. What did you have for dinner tonight? You keep avoiding the question about your unhealthy lifestyle and what it costs the rest of the country.

    You are so concerned about what goes into other people’s mouths, I thought that I would return the favor.

    http://www.mnpork.com/consumers/nutritional/index.php

    Comment by AlamedaNayTiff — May 25, 2009 @ 7:11 pm

  33. Thank you Minneapolis parent for that information on how “that’s a family” is so racist, and if your summary of the video is correct, I agree it is racist and does not belong in any public school anywhere in our country.

    ANT – Why are you behaving like a JRT? – I thought you did not like that sort of trollish behavior on Lauren’s blog.

    Comment by David Kirwin — May 25, 2009 @ 8:19 pm

  34. #33

    Perhaps we’ll soon have people from Saudi Arabia commenting here as well? If people from half-way across the country want to start throwing stones here, then they should know that there glass houses are vulnerable as well. If Mr. MN was so concerned about health issues, there are more important matters closer to home that he should address. Why is he so obsessed with the genitalia of Alamedans? The heavy dairy, pork and fatty meat diet of our upper midwest brethren poses a far greater threat to the health of this country than a tolerance campaign in Alameda’s public schools.

    Comment by AlamedaNayTiff — May 25, 2009 @ 8:49 pm

  35. #31

    According to the U.S. census bureau, African American children are the very least likely of all racial/ethnic groups to live in a two-parent household.

    {See: http://www.libraryindex.com/pages/1626/Family-Living-Arrangements-FEWER-TRADITIONAL-FAMILIES.html}

    But let’s not create diversity materials that reflect the reality of our childrens’ lives (e.g., gay parents, Afr-American children being raised by grandparents).

    Let’s just pretend all kids are raised in white, middle-class families with a Mommy and a Daddy. That will make everyone feel better — except, perhaps, the children whose families don’t fit that model.

    Comment by not hysterical — May 25, 2009 @ 8:53 pm

  36. #25
    “Each time I donate a unit a blood, I am asked if I have had sex with a man, even once, since 1977. Were I to answer yes, my blood would be disqualified from the blood supply.”

    There are many blood borne and hereditary maladies that blood banks screen for, yet you seem focused on only one. It wasn’t too long ago that racists would go on diatribes about “diseased Negro blood.” Some people actually refused transfusions because they didn’t want Negro blood in them.

    Comment by AlamedaNayTiff — May 25, 2009 @ 9:10 pm

  37. #31 —

    And that coin laundry image? Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that the poverty rates of African American families are 2-4 x higher than those of white families.

    Is it racist to acknowledge that? Or just realistic?

    Comment by not hysterical — May 25, 2009 @ 9:17 pm

  38. 23, 24, 33: It would be easier to take your comments about other people’s purportedly “trollish” behavior and your claims of alleged widespread (but nonexistent) “seemingly deliberate untruths” if your own postings were more accurate and not filled with willful ignorance of accurate information presented by your opponents.

    Have you stopped to consider why both the Alameda Journal and the Alameda Sun have examined the AUSD’s process, data, and recommendations and found them sufficiently accurate to endorse the CSC proposal? Or why the City commissions and other respected bodies have endorsed it?

    Your claim that others do not listen or are not “teachable” seems to be a matter of whether we agree with you or not, and not a matter of objective judgment.

    Comment by Jon Spangler — May 25, 2009 @ 9:53 pm

  39. 10, 9, 8 …counting down ’til DK pops his cork … 5, 4, 3 …

    Comment by Linda Hudson — May 25, 2009 @ 10:57 pm

  40. AlamedaNayTiff:

    I did not know you wanted your questions answered; they seemed more like barbs.

    Because weather varies with time and location, it is best to consult with the National Weather Service, http://www.weather.gov/

    Lutefisk is Norwegian; ask your friends at the San Francisco’s Norwegian Club, founded in 1898. Headline: SAN FRANCISCO
    All hail lutefisk — Norwegians toast heritage

    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2006/05/07/BAG1SIN2T01.DTL&hw=norway+day&sn=001&sc=1000

    The California Pork Ambassador Program is designed for youth to develop strong relationships with producers and members of the swine industry:

    http://www.calpork.com/youth_programs.htm

    It seems, we are not so different here in Minnesota. And, we have google here too. Regarding this controversial elementary education issue, we are about 18-24 months ahead of you, which is why I have provided information to those who might be interested. Take it or leave it. I encourage you to check out the Minneapolis blog: http://www.blogcatalog.com/blog/stop-welcoming-schools

    You seem concerned with nutrition. Most elementary educations include nutritional teaching centered on the food pyramid/four food groups. Children learn about good nutrition, but of course may not make the best choices from time to time. They learn the importance of good choices and the risks of poor choices. Likewise, if LGBT curriculum is to be taught to children, it must be balanced and include information regarding safety.

    Yes, the blood supply is screened for many things. But, potential donors are pre-screened. I have traveled to places that have caused me to be deferred from donating for one year. The screening questions are about where have you been and what have you done. The behavior questions are mainly concerned with IV drug use and male homosexual sex. The medical community asks these questions to protect the blood supply.

    Comment by Minneapolis Parent — May 26, 2009 @ 4:49 am

  41. #40–

    “if LGBT curriculum is to be taught to children, it must be balanced and include information regarding safety.”

    The children in our district do not receive education about “safe sex” — be it heterosexual or homosexual — until middle school.

    Elementary school is too young to introduce information about sexual activity. That’s why the LGBT curriculum doesn’t discuss physical intimacy.

    Please review the curriculum if you think that what is being proposed in our district is any kind of “sex ed.” It is not — we do not believe that is age appropriate.

    Comment by not hysterical — May 26, 2009 @ 6:53 am

  42. #41:

    As I mentioned in a previous post, the curriculum raises more questions for elementary students than it answers. This is a sensitive subject for children of this age, which is why it should stay in the realm of parenting, not public education. There is no right or wrong family form, and it is not possible to call out every possible permutation. Everyone deserves equal respect regardless of their family form. You could leave it at that, or open the lid on a topic that is not age appropriate. I am in favor of keeping the lid on. If it is important to you, do the parenting at home.

    Another resource:

    The Health Risks of Gay Sex
    JOHN R. DIGGS, JR., M.D.
    As a physician, it is my duty to assess behaviors for their impact on health and well being. When something is beneficial, such as exercise, good nutrition, or adequate sleep, it is my duty to recommend it. Likewise, when something is harmful, such as smoking, overeating, alcohol or drug abuse, and homosexual sex, it is my duty to discourage it.

    http://www.catholiceducation.org/articles/homosexuality/ho0075.html

    Comment by Minneapolis Parent — May 26, 2009 @ 7:35 am

  43. Oh yes, Dr. Diggs — he’s very well-known as a pro-life, anti-gay doctor. Quite famous, but not widely respected.

    (His book, in fact,was published by Corporate Resource Council, yet another right-wing, “pro-marriage,” “pro-faith” organization.)

    I could post hundreds of citations by physicians who are dedicating their lives to helping gay men stay healthy by having safe sex (and engaging in other healthy behaviors).

    But you’ve sort of shown your cards by posting that link, so that I see that arguing with you is a BIG waste of time.

    Comment by not hysterical — May 27, 2009 @ 10:46 am

  44. Correction: “The Health Risks of Gay Sex” isn’t a book. It’s a white paper, written for the Corporate Resource Council. I was typing too fast there.

    Comment by not hysterical — May 27, 2009 @ 10:50 am

  45. #43/#44:

    I see you have applied several labels to Dr. Diggs, which indicate your opinion. Opinions are nice, but you have not refuted any of what he has said. I will call your bluff, and request that you post just one citation which tells the story of a physician that has dedicated his/her life to helping gay men stay healthy by having safe sex.

    Comment by Minneapolis Parent — May 27, 2009 @ 12:19 pm

  46. #45 —

    Are you kidding me?

    Try any one of the doctors listed here.

    http://cfar.ucsf.edu/cfar?page=pr-04-07-10-01

    And that’s just a drop in the bucket.

    Comment by not hysterical — May 27, 2009 @ 12:27 pm

  47. And more:

    http://ari.ucsf.edu/newsevents/pdfs/fact_sheet-022709.pdf

    And now I’m done. If you’re not aware that doctors are trying to prevent HIV/AIDS by doing research on — and educating the public about — safe sex, you’re way out of the loop on this topic.

    Comment by not hysterical — May 27, 2009 @ 12:46 pm

  48. Give MP a break. They’ve only barely discovered hetero sex in Minnesota, they need time to get their heads around anything else.

    Comment by Gotcha — May 27, 2009 @ 12:52 pm

  49. #48
    There is such an epidemic of binge drinking and alcoholism in that part of the country, that I doubt they remember with who they’ve had sex.

    http://www.statemaster.com/graph/hea_alc_con_bin_dri-health-alcohol-consumption-binge-drinkers

    Comment by AlamedaNayTiff — May 27, 2009 @ 1:12 pm

  50. nh:

    I checked your links, and I see a lot of doctors names that are involved in sex health issues. I don’t see the story you promised of a physician who has dedicated his/her life to helping gay men stay healthy by having safe sex. Google not working?

    Gotcha: That regional humor cracks me up. Actually, there is homosexual sex in our part of country. That is why we dealt with this issue over a year before you did. A 90 minute drive down the road, same sex partners are being legally married today. But, even there, they don’t introduce the topic to Kindergarten students.

    Comment by Minneapolis Parent — May 27, 2009 @ 1:17 pm

  51. Minneapolis Parent,

    I would hardly call the book “the new girl and me” and these words (see below) a lesson in homosexual sex.

    Name Calling
    Exclude
    Hurtful
    Teasing
    Different
    Similar
    Comfortable

    By the way, quoting something from the catholic church when it comes to ethics in sexual behavior is kind of like quoting Jim & Tammy Faye the the morality of stealing from the poor.

    Comment by member of a real family — May 27, 2009 @ 1:38 pm

  52. Hey member of a real family, I see you are as tolerant as Ron Mooney – are you Barbara by any chance?

    I personally have no problem with the vocabulary as approved last night, but I do take issue with some of the lessons, and I detest the dishonesty of AUSD staff, and the exclusionary privilege provided the LGBT volunteers who were allowed to assemble the curriculum.

    Sacrificing honesty and unity in the name of some people’s ideals of tolerance is unforgivable and an offensive way to run our schools.

    Comment by David Kirwin — May 27, 2009 @ 1:52 pm

  53. David, you summed it up in one succinct statement:
    “Sacrificing honesty and unity in the name of some people’s ideals of tolerance is unforgivable and an offensive way to run our schools.”

    Levels of implementation of LGBT education, in order of heavy-handedness:
    1) Schools focus on core academic fundamentals (3 Rs). Social issues addressed at home (parents)
    2) LGBT curriculum opt-in
    3) LGBT curriculum opt-out
    4) Opt-out not permitted

    The LGBT community hit the grand slam, but at what cost? Certainly, unity has been sacrificed; the way you run your schools has changed. Now, certain families don’t count. They will receive this non-academic training against their will; that’s a new twist on public education. This one went your way; maybe next time it won’t. Just remember, when you find it’s your child or your family that has been thrown under the school bus, you are the ones that drove that bus into town.

    P.S.: ANT: Thanks for your diligence in providing salient health statistics. Five or more drinks on one occasion? Personally, the last instance of that was a Napa Valley wine tour.

    Comment by Minneapolis Parent — May 28, 2009 @ 11:33 am


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