Blogging Bayport Alameda

May 27, 2009

“People always think something’s all true”

Filed under: Alameda, School — Tags: — Lauren Do @ 7:05 am

I imagine in movies where the protagonist triumphs over adversity in front of an audience there is often the stage direction line written in, “Crowd breaks out in thunderous applause.”

That is exactly what happened last night when the School Board voted 3 – 2 (Mooney, Tam, Jensen — for / McMahon, Spencer — against),  to adopt the anti-bullying curriculum.   I was watching from home and as soon as the vote was made the volume level on my television peaked to the point where I literally had to put it on mute so that I wouldn’t wake my kids.  

It was clear when the Board Members began their comments and questions which had already made up their minds about how they were going to vote.   Tracy Jensen and Ron Mooney were clear locks for the curriculum simply based on the questions asked.   Trish Spencer was the mouthpiece for every kitchen sink opposition question that has been thrown at this curriculum, a clear vote against.

Then there was Niel Tam and Mike McMahon who both kept their opinions pretty close to the vest.   When Niel Tam asked about the pilot program, I thought that he was leaning more in the “no” direction.   But his last statement before the vote erased that expectation.

Mike McMahon, in a Soloman-like move, attempted to split the proverbial baby, offering to adopt the curriculum if an opt-out option was allowed for the first year the curriculum was implemented in order to gauge how it was working. 

So here’s the argument that I had the most difficulty with and I’ve been fixated on it since last night.   I don’t know if Trish Spencer necessarily believed this or if she was — as mentioned — throwing the kitchen sink at the anti-bullying curriculum to see which would knock it over successfully.   One of her arguments was that one of the books, I believe it was That’s a Family, but not 100% sure about that  Who’s in a Family and the way that they presented the families they relied on that often used device of depicting human like behavior in animals.

Trish Spencer noted that it might be considered offensive to bi-racial families that they were mocked up as dogs in the books.   Well when you put it that way, yeah, it sounds a little bad, but contextually, what were other families depicted as?  Cats?  Monkeys?  Tigers?  Pigs?   Seriously though, if she is going to have issues with humans depicted as animals or animals exhibiting human like behavior that would literally wipe out a substantial majority of children’s books.   And Disney films.  And cartoons.  And classic stories.

Another argument offered by Trish Spencer was the because And Tango Makes Three was on the list of most challenged books that it should be replaced by a different book.  I was dumbstruck by this argument and had to, once again, try to figure out if she actualy believed this or if she was kitchen sinking it.   While she is absolutely correct that And Tango Makes Three has topped the list of most challenged books in 2006, 2007, and 2008 if we are then to use the criteria that any book that ends up on a most challenged books list must be removed from our children’s sights, then these books must also go:

  • The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini (2008 no. 9)
  • The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain (2007 no. 5, 2002 no. 7)
  • The Color Purple, by Alice Walker (2007 no. 6)
  • I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou (2007 no. 8, 2004 no.9, 2002 no. 4, 2001 no. 4)
  • The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison (2006 no. 5)
  • Beloved, by Toni Morrison (2006 no. 9)
  • The Catcher in the Rye, by J. D. Salinger (2005 no. 3, 2001 no. 6)
  • In the Night Kitchen, by Maurice Sendak (2004 no. 7)
  • Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck (2004 no. 10, 2003 no. 3, 2001 no. 2)
  • Harry Potter (series), by J.K. Rowling  (2003 no. 2, 2002 no.1, 2001 no. 1)

 News roundup of morning after reactions:



  1. It is unfortunate that the headlines will read that the safe schools curriculum passed on a 3-2 vote, because the opposition seemed to be based on the argument that the safe schools curriculum is needed.

    Trish Spencer’s hesitation seemed to be that other groups e.g Muslims and African-Americans were not addressed as well as LGBT students/families in the proposed curriculum.

    Why that would be a reason not to vote for the curriculum rather to say. let’s improve the curriculum puzzles me. In the context of the debate it seemed to set one group against another. That impression was reinforced for me by the use of the term “politically correct”, a term that is commonly used when someone wants to blow off a discussion of prejudice rather than confront an issue head on.

    Mike McMahon’s attempt to compromise by allowing an opt-out for one year to evaluate the program might have been possible in a less polarized time, but at this time parents wanted leaders willing to take a stand. I was not clear what Mike’s stand was on the curriculum itself.

    To the Board Members, Tracy Jensen, Ron Mooney and Neil Tam, who did take a difficult stand in support of a courageous initiative, I say thank you.

    Comment by carl halpern — May 27, 2009 @ 8:00 am

  2. Let the law suits begin 🙂

    And, watch who gets voted out of office at the next election … this is not what the majority of parents wanted.

    Comment by Jeff R. Thomason — May 27, 2009 @ 8:17 am

  3. I still say, “Blame Canada!”

    The sky is not falling and the world will not end with this decision.

    However we SHOULD be on the lookout in a year when AUSD is on the prowl for another property assessment. This is really a discretionary program so when the budgeteers start getting their axes out, maybe we can convince ourselves that these lessons are best taught by example at home.

    Comment by Edmundo Delmundo — May 27, 2009 @ 8:59 am

  4. OH… and JRT, you really are trolling.

    Comment by Edmundo Delmundo — May 27, 2009 @ 8:59 am

  5. JRT — how do you know what the majority of parents wanted? Did you survey all the parents on the island?

    How do you know, in other words, that there weren’t a lot of parents who were quiet in public, but actually supported the curriculum?

    Your crowing about Prop 8 yesterday — combined with your threats about election consequences this AM — show that you’re both a poor winner and a sore loser.

    Too bad you missed lessons about good sportsmanship in your youth.

    Comment by not hysterical — May 27, 2009 @ 9:01 am

  6. In my opinion it did appear that Spencer was engaging in the kitchen sink approach. Seemed like no argument against was to outlandish for her. My thoughts also turned to all those Disney stories I grew up on. Clearly they have corrupted me. While I disagree with McMahon’s vote, I can appreciate his stance and I’m grateful for the way he handled the issue.

    JRT, how do you know what the majority of Alameda residents want?

    Comment by William Smyth — May 27, 2009 @ 9:03 am

  7. I am proud to live in a caring community. And pleased with the thoughtful work done by the board and administration.

    Comment by David Sayen — May 27, 2009 @ 11:25 am

  8. Going by the numbers, of e-mails and speakers in person, the majority did not want this curriculum AND that has nothing to do with not wanting to recognize there are homosexual parents in our community or that ALL children should feel safe and welcomed.

    The poor leadership exhibited has left a rift in our community that would have healed with an all-inclusive CSC plan IF the AUSD staff had not told the community so many lies, and mandated that any committee working on these involved 1st amendment issues were committees which represented our community, not just the LGBT community.

    These are the fatal flaws that have divided our community, and may well but our school district into a financial melt-down which can only be a negative for ALL students.

    Shame on district staff and the BOE for allowing this to happen.
    Shame on the LGBT community for not including representatives from the whole community to participate in the planning for lessons for all our students. Their exclusion of others and damage inflicted on our schools is of great concern, and will not be forgotton.

    Comment by David Kirwin — May 27, 2009 @ 11:37 am

  9. #8 Between you and Trish Spencer, I think we’ve heard a number of variations on the same theme: don’t approve this curriculum update because it doesn’t adequately address other classes that are also prone to bullying.

    The proposal the board approved last night included development of an instructional support guide to include all protected classes, and an evaluation point in late 2009 that could lead to curriculum updates in 2010.

    So let’s imagine the curriculum were updated to include explicit coverage for these other classes, and continued to include clear examples, definitions, and statements that LGBT folks and families are as equally valid in our society as anyone else.

    I assume that you would be strongly supportive of this, along with Trish Spencer and the dozens of other speakers who made the same argument to the BoE.

    Comment by Andy Currid — May 27, 2009 @ 12:40 pm

  10. Yes, if they were all introduced at the same time, and the lessons were chosen by a group representative of the entire community, and if they were promoted by truth and not by lies being told by the district to the public…

    Now that staff and the LGBT community have pushed this over the wall who will put the community back together again? Pastor Rose should have reached out during the debate, now it is too late.

    The lack of trust is not just going to go away.

    Comment by David Kirwin — May 27, 2009 @ 1:40 pm

  11. #10

    “The lack of trust is not just going to go away.”

    Perhaps not in your head/heart, David.

    But already, today, people on both sides of this issue are “reaching across the aisle” and thinking about how to move forward in a peaceful, cooperative way.

    You may continue to fan the flames, of course. Those of us who don’t believe that inflammatory rhetoric are constructive will busy ourselves with helping this district implement an inclusive anti-bullying curriculum and stabilize itself financially.

    Comment by not hysterical — May 27, 2009 @ 1:52 pm

  12. Amen #11

    Comment by Sounds Like a Plan — May 27, 2009 @ 2:07 pm

  13. I am sure Spencer has kids. How did the fact that children are generally obsessed with animals and love stories about them escape her?

    I think in general everyone thinks Aesop’s fables to be morally ok and generally cute…tortise and the hare etc. Most of them are stories about animals with a human lifeskill lesson attached.

    Well she sure is an example of “the boy who cried wolf”.

    Comment by member of a real family — May 27, 2009 @ 2:09 pm

  14. #8, #11:

    “Shame on the LGBT community for not including representatives from the whole community to participate in the planning for lessons for all our students. Their exclusion of others and damage inflicted on our schools is of great concern, and will not be forgotton.”

    Dave, your comment reads as if you were not really listening to the proposal and discussions last night. The new supplemental curriculum WILL be adapted to include all “protected classes”–at the urging of the LGBT community.

    AUSD staffers are taking the original CSC curriculum (which they had to work with because it was the previously BOE-adopted framework chosen for these safe schools lessons) FAR beyond its original scope and adapting it to community needs and to include ALL students. Tis expansion is fully endorsed by the LGBT community so that the CSC includes those of different religions, national origin, race, creed, ethnicities, etc., in addition to the LGBT community.

    The real “damage inflicted on our schools” is by those who refuse to engage in dialogue with their opponents and share diverse views. I watched many storm out of the meeting last night (you were one of them), but I also saw many people willing to talk to each other across this issue, too. Pastor Dione Evans spent about 20 minutes sharing with the LGBT community outside City Hall last night, and I think he was sincere when he said he wanted to continue that conversation.

    It is only through such honest and engaged dialogue–not through lawsuits–that our community can meet the challenges before us, whether about school funding, redeveloping Alameda Point, or eliminating the bullying in our schools.
    Will you stay engaged with us? Will you put down your harsh words and charges and do that? As they say on the school yard, you cannot use words or your body as weapons to solve problems.

    Comment by jon Spangler — May 27, 2009 @ 2:44 pm

  15. But you think it is okay to use lies and exclusion to push YOUR wishes and perception Jon? Even you have to understand that is a sick distortion of ‘unity towards a goal’; like “as long as we do it my way, ‘we’ can…”

    I was listening last night as staff said there would be no curriculum to address the other protected classes – Did that escape you? …and Staff DID NOT have to use the CSC curriculum to form these lessons.

    In fact there was no requirement to distinguish LGBT as separate and more deserving than the race, nationality, ect. LGBT will still be the ONLY group with specific lessons added to a curriculum meant only to be a “framework”, and was never intended to have specific lessons benefiting any specific group. That is part of the inequity.

    The dishonesty lies, and exclusionary practices will always be repugnant. The proper time to “reach across the aisle” was before you claimed your victory celebration, but the LGBT constantly turned down offers and requests to work together for a solution.

    No, I will not forget the lesson I have learned. It has turned my head around.

    Comment by David Kirwin — May 27, 2009 @ 3:17 pm

  16. What I heard last night is that there *is* going to be the creation of supplemental teaching materials *as well* as teacher training specifically aimed at the other protected classes *and* a re-evaluation of the whole program (as described in comment 9 above) *and* a renewed commitment to addressing any and all bullying and harassment.

    That sounds like outreach to me.

    Even if everyone isn’t yet ready for outreach, it sounds like the groundwork for it is in place.

    Comment by Sounds Like a Plan — May 27, 2009 @ 3:37 pm

  17. Keeping the people-as-animals analogy alive, Dave Kirwin and Jeff Thomason are playing the role of dinosaurs. They’ll be here all week folks, thanks for coming, and please tip your waiter on the way out.

    Comment by notadave — May 27, 2009 @ 3:38 pm

  18. Re: #15

    I think I just heard a loud popping noise. Someone “blowing his cork”?

    Comment by Linda Hudson — May 27, 2009 @ 3:40 pm

  19. #15 — “It has turned my head around.”

    So when you get your head on straight and decide to take actions to support, rather than damage, the district in which your own children go to school, please do let us know.

    The rest of us are ready to move forward and be constructive.

    Comment by not hysterical — May 27, 2009 @ 3:42 pm

  20. Once I learn who will lie, cheat and deceive, I don’t play with them, or support them.

    If there is a lawsuit to address the dishonesty of our “trusted servants” I will kick in to support them. Having a trustworthy government is essential. If there is a way to prosecute those staff members who lied to the public, let it be done.

    What is the BOE / AUSD policy for people lying to the BOE or public while representing the District? Does our new superintendant approve of this? Apparently she does – though the cost is her community respect.

    I will support any recall of board members who supported this injustice to our entire community. I could not believe my ear-balls when Tracy Jenson remarked how we already teach about hetero families in school – like the 1st family, the Royal Family and the Donner Party. WHAT? Should there be ‘guidelines to cannibalistic etiquette’ in the new curriculum? She may be a funny clown, but her perspective is in poor taste, and we have reall issues in middle and high school, and we are not yet meeting the requirements of AB397. I am full of rage, and can’t yet shake it. As I have promised since last spring, the inequity of the way this was handled and the lies supported by staff compels me to not trust the district with any more of my money; I will vote no on any future school parcel tax until this is rectified, by board choice or legal compulsion, the ladder being at great expense to the district.

    While my gay and lesbian friends know I still love and care and respect them as I have, as individuals, I will no longer support the LGBT political aims. While my friends tell me I will settle back to myself, that this is a local thing only and should not change my outlook, it most certainly has changed my outlook.

    I can accept almost anything or anybody that wants to be accepted (or not), but liars and cheats in government are intolerable to me. The politically powerful LGBT advocacy groups have shown when given a well-intentioned inch, they will take a foot and make themselves the ruler. I no longer trust them, nor will I support them.

    Comment by David kirwin — May 27, 2009 @ 6:04 pm

  21. While my Latino friends know I still love and care and respect them as I have, as individuals, I will no longer support the Latino political aims. While my friends tell me I will settle back to myself, that this is a local thing only and should not change my outlook, it most certainly has changed my outlook.

    I can accept almost anything or anybody that wants to be accepted (or not), but liars and cheats in government are intolerable to me. The politically powerful Latino advocacy groups have shown when given a well-intentioned inch, they will take a foot and make themselves the ruler. I no longer trust them, nor will I support them.

    Comment by AlamedaNayTiff — May 27, 2009 @ 7:56 pm

  22. Yep, those LGBT groups are so powerful, they just secured equality in court. Only their insidious, PC power, assisted of course by the Tri-Lateral Commission, the Illuminati & the Freemasons, is what won them their civil rights in court yesterday.

    Comment by dave — May 27, 2009 @ 8:04 pm

  23. The LGBT groups are not powerful … our elected Alameda BOE is simply weak. No matter, they will be removed from office next election and teaching of the gay agenda will be judicially enjoined before it gets started 🙂

    Comment by Jeff R. Thomason — May 27, 2009 @ 8:33 pm

  24. And, the queer are still second class citizens according to the people and the Constitution of the Great State of California 🙂

    Comment by Jeff R. Thomason — May 27, 2009 @ 8:36 pm

  25. 20: This is intended to be a sincere suggestion: Take a break. Go off-line for a week. Step back.

    Comment by Sounds Like a Plan — May 27, 2009 @ 9:00 pm

  26. While I can’t fathom ANT’s beef with the Latino community, I know the AUSD BOE is not weak; they are disrespectful to the community as displayed by their willingness to put one special interest group above all others.

    ..And while there are assholes there are no 2nd class citizens according to the Constitution of Ca or the USA, and the BOE should have respected that truth before they voted last night.

    Comment by David Kirwin — May 27, 2009 @ 9:05 pm

  27. 24: I thought the people opposed to this curriculum believed in equality, not second class citizenship. Oops.

    Comment by Sounds Like a Plan — May 27, 2009 @ 9:06 pm

  28. Ummmm . . . David?

    ANT was joking about the Latino community. You seriously need to take a deep breath. None of this is worth having a stroke over.

    Comment by Take a Deep Breath — May 27, 2009 @ 9:09 pm

  29. I guess you were mistaken Sounds Like a Clam 🙂

    Comment by Jeff R. Thomason — May 27, 2009 @ 9:15 pm

  30. You know that as hard as some people work at preaching hate and discontent, this city still manages to get it right.
    As for losing on issues you guy’s need to work on your acceptance of such losses. prop. 8 is the next big loss that you will have to endure. have a good day.

    p.s. I left your names out but you know who you are.

    Comment by John Piziali — May 27, 2009 @ 9:15 pm

  31. “As for losing on issues you guy’s need to work on your acceptance of such losses.”

    Exactly!!! Listen to the angry Pizza guy … Prop 8 is the law 🙂

    Comment by Jeff R. Thomason — May 27, 2009 @ 9:17 pm

  32. SLAP – you speak for ANT? I took him/her for a religious bigot, figured he/she had it in for Latinos too, – you know, the Christian thing we aren’t allowed to talk about in schools…

    And SLAP – how do you square these little kid lessons without any action helping those in real need like the homosexual boy at ACLC who spoke last night? He showed a lot of guts, and it is kids his age that need the anti-harassment policy enforced.

    How are you going to get staff to intervene with out the proper tools? (Are you going to cop out and wait 10 years to see if anyone remembers to see if this political play met its challenges? – I think not.)

    What has AUSD admin or the BOE done to help staff feel they can safely intervene with kids who are bigger than some staff, who can talk real shit, and are willing to take a defiant stand? This is the kind of stuff I myself will not take on in the school district where I work because I have no “approved procedure” for intervening. I think this is where staff needs help, and where they need to be “forced” to intervene for the safety and welcoming of all our students.

    So far it looks like you are willing to ignore these needs to instead initiate a little kid curriculum sure to be divisive. Little kids are so easy to manipulate which is why parents are so concerned when they see how this came down – the ignoring of real problems for the presumed mismanagement of lessons to address a much less significant problem.

    I’m sure what I witness in other districts is the same in Alameda; its politically and professionally safer to never “see” any bullying or harassment than it is to try to intervene which could start an issue. So talking only to elementary age kids avoids the real problems as well as offending those who teach different mores at home. And elementary age kids generally don’t have as strong an understanding of their home religion since that part of their life is not mirrored or reinforced at school. These little kids are not mentally developed for being able to comprehend and engage in philosophical and moral debates – hell it appears members of our school board don’t have that level of understanding and tolerance!

    The reason it seemed Board member Spencer was throwing the “kitchen sink” questions is because there is SO much wrong with this whole scene; the way it was initiated, the exclusive committee, the lies of the District, the wildly inappropriate original proposals, the fact that the district continued the lies after they were informed of the untruths; that doesn’t yet begin to get to the exclusion of more needed lessons for the bigger harassment issues, or the arguments of violating the religious freedoms. Since little kids are too young to stand up for themselves, will the parents be allowed to attend the classes so they can guard their child’s religious rights? It certainly seems they must have that right.

    Clearly with a nod of the superintendent and her staff three board members just wasted vast resources that our district can’t afford to waste. Good leadership requires sound decision making. Throwing away honesty, integrity and scant resources for a proposal for which the district will be sued, instead of finding one thru a open and unified committee is the antithesis of good leadership.

    Comment by David Kirwin — May 27, 2009 @ 10:14 pm

  33. SLAP didn’t speak for ANT. TABD did.

    You’re too angry right now to hear anything other than the same points you’ve raised here over and over and over.

    Please take a break.

    Comment by Sounds Like a Plan — May 27, 2009 @ 10:39 pm

  34. Seriously, dude, put down the keyboard. I didn’t say anything about the issues. I was just saying that you need to step away — just for a while. Take a break. You’re not helping yourself or your cause. All of this will still be here in a few days. If you’re still as riled up, then you can sue or prosecute or launch your recall or whatever.

    Comment by Take a Deep Breath — May 27, 2009 @ 10:50 pm

  35. #32 – So if we don’t acknowledge the existence of gay families in our district, because this violates the religious beliefs of Christians, how should we handle the existence of other religious groups in our district?

    E.g., Muslims, Buddhists, and Jews don’t believe in Jesus Christ. So should we not ever refer to or acknowledge those religions?

    (Note to self: Tell Jewish friends to stop bringing in the darn latkes every December! It brings up too many questions! And that dreidel! It’s all about luring good Christian children into the temples.)

    And my son recently brought a fossil into his elementary school classroom for show and tell. He loves to think about evolution — he might even have mentioned that word. Is that ok? Or should he be shushed up, as it might offend the creationists in our midst?

    And oh dear — what if the teacher, excited about the fossil, mentioned something about evolution, too?

    Funny how this curriculum issue dovetails with other curriculum issues the right-wing Christians have had (and organized around) in this country. You’re worried about an LGBT agenda — what frightens me is the fundamentalist Christian agenda.

    Comment by not hysterical — May 28, 2009 @ 12:26 pm

  36. #35 Amen to that! Thankfully, not all Christians are fundamentalists! 🙂

    Comment by Christian Mom of 3 AUSD students — May 28, 2009 @ 12:57 pm

  37. #36 — Agreed. I know some amazing Christians.

    And in that vein, lest DK (or anyone else) think that I’m anti-Christian…

    What if some Muslims in the district take issue with the dress codes that allow elementary school girls to wear short-sleeved shirts?

    Or what if the Hindus take issue with the fact that we serve beef in the cafeteria?

    I respect all three religions here — I really do. But religious groups don’t get to decide what is taught in our public schools.

    Comment by not hysterical — May 28, 2009 @ 1:07 pm

  38. “So if we don’t acknowledge the existence of gay families in our district…t”

    Give up this line – NOBODY has suggested this! This is a bullshit argument made up by those such as Lauren or Jon, but never suggested by anyone who simply wanted a committee that represented more than one special interest group, or don’t accept lying by public officials as a standard operating procedure.

    Books reflecting gay families were brought to the district for classroom inclusion by Mormon families, so that argument is absolutely EMPTY, and continued reliance on such statements shows your continued distortion of truth.

    No wonder you don’t use your names as there is no truth that can be used to defend the BOE’s actions.

    Comment by David Kirwin — May 28, 2009 @ 3:20 pm

  39. “what frightens me is the fundamentalist Christian agenda.”

    It would frighten me too, If it was suggested to be allowed in public schools I would fight it equally.

    Comment by David Kirwin — May 28, 2009 @ 3:22 pm

  40. #38 — You’re not answering my question.

    If we bow to the religious beliefs of parents who think that homosexuality is immoral, what other religious beliefs do we need to avoid offending?

    We live in a remarkably diverse district — it could get tricky.

    Comment by not hysterical — May 28, 2009 @ 3:50 pm

  41. #38

    And also, you claim you’re not saying the existence of gay families should be recognized.

    But you oppose a curriculum that introduces the idea that some families are gay, in part because this is contrary to the religious/moral beliefs of some parents in the district.

    So let’s say there’s no Safe Schools curriculum. And little Tina comes up to her kindergarten teacher and says, “Why does Timmy have two Daddies?”

    Should said teacher respond:

    a) Timmy does NOT have two Daddies!
    b) Shush now, we don’t talk about that at school;
    c) Yes, Timmy has two Daddies and it’s so sad because they’re going to die of a terrible disease before he turns 9 (MN Parent’s approach); or
    d) Yes you’re right. Timmy does have two Daddies. That’s just how some families are!

    Those who oppose the curriculum on moral grounds won’t accept d) because it posits that homosexuality is ok.

    So tell me, how best to respond without introducing the idea that, um, gay families exist?

    Comment by not hysterical — May 28, 2009 @ 4:05 pm

  42. #41 — Sorry. First line should read: “You claim you’re not saying the existence of gay families SHOULDN’T be recognized.”

    Comment by not hysterical — May 28, 2009 @ 4:12 pm

  43. #40 great post! You have succinctly gone to the heart of the issue, however I predict that we will see prop 8 overturned(probably a year away) before we see a responsive answer from Dave Kirwin.

    Comment by notadave — May 28, 2009 @ 5:49 pm

  44. #40 Yes, good post, but didn’t DK already say in post #10 that he would accept a curriculum that included “clear examples, definitions, and statements that LGBT folks and families are as equally valid in our society as anyone else.” ?

    So presumably DK would not advocate that we bow to the
    “religious beliefs of parents who think that homosexuality is immoral”, because that would be contradictory to what he said in #10, right?

    Comment by Andy Currid — May 28, 2009 @ 8:53 pm

  45. #44 — Yes, he did say that in #10.

    But then in #32 he complained about this curriculum violating the religious freedom of the parents who oppose homosexuality.

    So to be honest, the more I look at his statements, the more confused I get. Perhaps deconstructing Kirwin is not a good hobby.

    Comment by not hysterical — May 28, 2009 @ 9:14 pm

  46. There is an infinite set of possibilities how children with gay or lesbian parents, (or uncles, aunts etc) could see themselves, and their families reflected in school. I thought I was making huge progress in my e-mail correspondence with parents of religious values that in my mind do discriminate against homosexuality. By e-mail we discussed how differently this situation could have, and should have been handled. Through this discourse I found that the LDS (Mormon) families are not in denial of reality; do not want to deny their children our reality. I found they were willing to have readers and picture books with families with two mommies or two daddies.
    That was not the issue you make it out to be.
    That was not the issue you make it out to be.
    That was not the issue you make it out to be.

    When a group of us met I learned that some LDS moms had actually already brought such books to Kirsten Vital. I was personally surprised by this – I was hoping to help bridge a gap and then learned these religious folks you denigrate had already crossed that bridge and gone further down the road than I imagined they ever would. –They were already there! Let me repeat what I have been blogging for over a month; we all want EVERY student to feel safe and welcomed. This is a fact you are in denial of.

    I had also talked to people holding signs on the pro-curriculum side outside city hall a few weeks ago who did not realize that AB537 said “no new texts or curriculum was required”, and they did not know the explicit requirements of AB394 which this does not address, or that for over 8 years AUSD had a policy such as 5145.3 that just needs to be enforced, which could be possible with only adequate STAFF training.

    Everybody I talked to understands we all want EVERY student to feel safe and welcomed, but this curriculum is a terrible solution to achieve that goal. Fortunately it is only one of infinite possibilities; unfortunately it is the one the BOE foolishly chose.

    It creates a curriculum where one is not required.

    It creates lessons which I (and most others) think are unnecessary and bad lessons (Like crumple doll)

    It introduces the concept of ‘sexual orientation’ too young.

    It does not adequately address the requirements of AB 397

    It is offensive to many and a curriculum to meet the stated objectives should not be offensive to any.

    It was created to address a single special interest group, and that is not the special interest group with the greatest needs.

    It was supported in the community based on a series of lies and deceit from representatives of our school districts, both ours and Berkeley’s. (BUSD does not have any similar class curriculum. This fact can be verified thru their curriculum dept or thru their superintendants office.)

    It was allowed that a single special interest group unilaterally produce a curriculum solely for their benefit rather than addressing the needs that all of these special protected class have, produced by a committee representative of our community. (There should be no ‘exclusionary privilege’ for any subgroup in our public school community.)

    I have always been opposed to “opt out” because if a lesson on harassment requires opt out, it is the wrong lesson to choose.

    The curriculum is opposed because it fails to address all the areas of harassment as it should; This may be the reason CSC was created as a ‘framework of lessons’; and was not intended as lessons specific to ANY protected class. I think that is why CSC was a better choice than some of the other options – why it was chosen by a past BOE.

    The curriculum does not do anything to help gay or straight victims in middle school or high school. – Do you think the young gay man form ACLC who spoke Tuesday ‘came out’ in elementary school? This curriculum does nothing to help him or other victims like him.

    The curriculum does nothing to address the issues of harassment based on race – which is still the #1 harassment issue within AUSD. AUSD currently has no curriculum to address harassment specifically based on race.

    The curriculum does nothing to address the issues of harassment based on nationality which is a bigger harassment issue within AUSD than that based on LGBT. AUSD currently has no curriculum to address harassment specifically based on nationality.

    The curriculum does nothing to address the issues of harassment based on religion which is a bigger harassment issue within AUSD than that based on LGBT. AUSD currently has no curriculum to address harassment specifically based on religion.

    The curriculum does nothing to address the issues of harassment based on mental or physical handicaps which is a harassment issue within AUSD and one that gets little or no attention even though children with such disabilities are ‘mainstreamed’ into our schools whenever possible. Do you really think children of gay parents or those adolescents wondering about their sexual orientation have a harder time feeling different or separate than children with disabilities? AUSD currently has no curriculum to address harassment specifically based on disabilities.

    The curriculum does nothing to address the lack of ‘specific’ training for all staff how to “properly” intervene when witnessing harassment especially in middle and high schools where it truly is harder to address kids with really poor or non-existent self-management skills.

    I could go on ad nauseum, but it is obvious why it seemed board member Spencer went on for so long – there is too much wrong with the proposal in every way; and I feel it all stems from limiting who was allowed to participate in planning the proposal. It was suggested to me that the main reason some of the churches with Asian congregations were really upset was because they were being excluded again.

    When people in leadership positions of groups and churches who are opposed to this tried to reach out to proposal proponent leaders to seek common ground and were shunned it only widened the divide and showed the need for the BOE to take leadership action to address a protocol for seeking common ground. (M.McMahon’s website has a document on how the BOE is supposed to address these issues, but this too was ignored.)

    Knowing the lawyers were in the room, and deep-pocket out-of-town groups who are willing to fund the legal action were there as well, our (well intentioned?), ignorant board members ridiculed the religions not understood, and belittled the value and rights of the children of such faiths. Everyone was well aware that there will be lawsuits if the board voted the way it did, but he had to blaspheme those others as well.

    The truest sign of ignorance was that the BOE treated this proposal as a close-ended option, – as the only option to achieve the goal, when in truth the possibilities are infinite.

    I believe (under Roberts rules of order) any of the three who voted in favor still has the option of a motion to reconsider, and to push to form a committee representative of the community to tackle the problems created, as well as a solution to achieve the original goal – ‘To help all students feel safe and welcomed.’

    In fact such a motion is advisable even if just to clarify the meaning of Mooney’s motion, because in his ‘state’, he did not clarify what he meant. During the discussion staff was making suggested changes ‘on the fly’, or ‘off the cuff’. Were all these “adjustments” included, or were they all excluded, or what was the mix he referred to when he said “staff’s proposal”?

    Trust me I am glad I was in the audience not on the dais, (though the vote would have been better and far more affordable for everybody in Alameda.) Despite Mooney’s experience on Emeryville’s school board he clearly “nutted-out” the other night and made novice mistakes that our more veteran Board members failed to catch or stop.

    I t took me a full day to realize I don’t know what he meant with his motion. When he said he would like to mimic more of SF’s curriculum, he should realize they have been working on it a long time and its acceptance and success is based on the fact that it started with a group representative of the entire community. That is exactly what Alameda needs, and is the best option for mending the AUSD community.

    Approving lessons most speakers and e-mailers objected to, and that got such a huge response from the community is a grievous error which will do long-lasting damage to both our community and our schools for a long, very long time.
    Approving a proposal based on lies, deceit, and exclusivity is unforgivable.

    Comment by David Kirwin — May 28, 2009 @ 10:55 pm

  47. #43 I fear you are wrong. The horrendous negative attention resulting from decisions like our BOE’s this week, coupled with the fact it will now take a 2/3vote+1 to amend the state constitution, it seems more unlikely Prop 8 will be overturned in the near future. I am grateful many of my friends got remarried and this time their choice of union was upheld.

    You know, I find it difficult to verbalize my philosophy here, and I feel attacked and disrespected. It is beyond my imagination how an elementary school child who is only forming his philosophy, who is only in the primary stages of learning the religion of his family, could withstand the attacks on his 1st amendment rights.

    This is precisely why great concern is placed on not just ‘what’ is in such lessons, but ‘how’ it is taught. It is why a ‘representative’ group is required to figure this out – don’t expect me to be able to provide all answers to all questions with just my limited perspective.

    Comment by David Kirwin — May 28, 2009 @ 11:18 pm

  48. Sorry NotHysterical … regardless of what Timmy says, he does not have two daddies. It is biologically impossible.

    Comment by Jeff R. Thomason — May 28, 2009 @ 11:28 pm

  49. #48 STFU. It is socially possible to have two or more daddies.

    Comment by dk — May 28, 2009 @ 11:54 pm

  50. 46 There you go again.

    You claim some school board members made “novice mistakes” and assert that “lies” and “deceit” are unforgivable.

    What about the lies, deceit and mistakes of school board member Spencer?

    Comment by Morning in Alameda — May 29, 2009 @ 7:08 am

  51. 46: Word of the day. Logorrhea: noun: pathologically excessive (and often incoherent) talking.

    Comment by BC — May 29, 2009 @ 8:42 am

  52. #50 Name any lies, or deceit from Spencer.

    #51 snafu – when unable to logically debate – attack the speaker

    Comment by David Kirwin — May 29, 2009 @ 10:08 am

  53. #52 (and #46)

    I’m sorry you’re feeling attacked, David. That never feels good.

    But tell me: How do you think Kirsten Vital feels when you suggest she is “ignorant” or “deceitful” (as you did on The Island last week) or that you claim she is a poor leader?

    How does Ron Mooney feel when you call him a “novice,” a “bigot,” or someone who “nutted out” (this year) or an elitist Gold Coast parent who led a major parcel tax campaign soley to keep Franklin School open (last year)?

    How does Jon Spangler feel when you imply he’s a pedophile?

    How do the AUSD staffers who worked on this issue feel when you call them “liars”?

    Why is it OK for you to say those things but not OK for others to disagree with you?

    Comment by not hysterical — May 29, 2009 @ 10:31 am

  54. 52. OK, let me just give you some advise. Instead of just pushing “submit”, re-read your post and see if you can reduce its length (remember freshman composition class at college?). What you say can be expressed much more briefly. I had to laugh when you wrote: “I could go on ad nauseum.” If what you do now isn’t going on ad nauseam, what is?

    And typing this kind of stuff simply makes you look insane…

    That was not the issue you make it out to be.
    That was not the issue you make it out to be.
    That was not the issue you make it out to be.

    Comment by BC — May 29, 2009 @ 10:50 am

  55. #53
    I never implied Jon is a pedophile, I don’t know him that way at all. Nor did I call all AUSD staffers deceitful.

    As for the others, they can defend themselves better than K-5 students which was the purpose of that paragraph you refer to. Please read it again.

    Comment by David Kirwin — May 29, 2009 @ 11:24 am

  56. #55 —

    lol — I *knew* you’d deny that you had said some of that stuff, even though it’s in print!

    Here’s the pedophile quote (see your comment, #48):

    You can spin it any way you want, but it looked pretty bad.

    And I didn’t say you called “all” AUSD staffers liars — I said you called those AUSD staffers “who worked on this issue” liars. (See your comment #8, this thread.)

    But here’s the really important question that you didn’t answer:

    “Why is it OK for you to say those things but not OK for others to disagree with you?”

    Comment by not hysterical — May 29, 2009 @ 11:38 am

  57. #53 Let’s also not forget the blasphemy charge against Ron Mooney. I think that’s the first time I’ve seen anyone accused of blasphemy since Khomeini issued a fatwa on Salman Rushdie.

    Comment by Andy Currid — May 29, 2009 @ 12:14 pm

  58. Denying the validity of someone’s religion is blasphemy. Look it up. Perhaps few people are as insensitive to the beliefs of others as Mooney or Khomeini.

    Also I did not mean to imply ALL staffers who worked on this…. but I do include ALL staffers who lied to the public.

    Reread comment #48 you-can-pull-all… – Do you know the meaning of a “what if” statement? What are the 1st two words of that sentence? Now reread it all in context and stop creating BS just because deep inside you know this was a bad decision by the board – if #46 is too long for you, take it one segment at a time, read slow, comprehend what you can, THEN form an argument.

    And of course it is OK for people to disagree with me! I have never said otherwise, but please if you are going to disagree, or attack my comments, (as is your right), try to be accurate, address what I wrote, not what you assume I meant. Try to maintain the context of my words. That is respectful disagreement.

    ….and sure I occasionally blow my top, but I do not respect liars, or dishonest officials and politicians. Why should I respect Mooney for disrespecting others? He already has two strikes for the way he uses exclusivity as his method and rational for public decisions.

    Comment by David Kirwin — May 29, 2009 @ 3:21 pm

  59. from Dave Kirwin

    #8 Going by the numbers, of e-mails and speakers in person, the majority did not want this curriculum AND that has nothing to do with not wanting to recognize there are homosexual parents in our community or that ALL children should feel safe and welcomed.

    #10 … Yes, if they were all introduced at the same time, and the lessons were chosen by a group representative of the entire community, and if they were promoted by truth and not by lies being told by the district to the public …

    Dave, Even though you seem to be supportive, your approval bar for procedural steps seems to be set at a level which guarantees no support.

    I’m still thinking of the ACLC high school student who described how the thought of going to school made him sick to his stomach. It might not be perfect, but isn’t it good that our community is trying to address this situation with this curriculum at an early age?

    Comment by Carl Halpern — May 29, 2009 @ 3:45 pm

  60. #58 — “deep inside you know this was a bad decision by the board”

    Nope, that’s not me. Deep down inside I’m really, really happy the board made this decision and I respect them enormously for making it, despite the threats of lawsuits, recalls, financial meltdowns, and election year revenge.

    Moreover, I’m excited about the fact that this issue alerted AUSD to the fact that they need to expand their existing anti-bullying curriculum.

    And I’m doubly excited that people on both sides of this issue are, even as I type this, reaching out and deciding to work together to improve the social climate in both AUSD and the city at large.

    It’s all good, in my mind. Difficult, but good.

    Comment by not hysterical — May 29, 2009 @ 3:47 pm

  61. DK: I have a job at which the coffee breaks I grab are too short to read rambling posts such as 46 that really contain about two sentences’ worth of actual content (and you’re in competition with the New York Times for my limited web time). Brevity really is a virtue. I’m glad you have the luxury of typing this stuff all day at work; I don’t have that kind of a job.

    Re. your definition of blasphemy. I don’t believe in God. By saying that, am a blasphemer? And aren’t a lot of Christians implicitly (and often explicitly) denying the validity of others’ religions? Are they blasphmers too? You’re using an awfully broad definition and not the one in the dictionary.

    blas·phe·my (blās’fə-mē)
    n. pl. blas·phe·mies

    A contemptuous or profane act, utterance, or writing concerning God or a sacred entity.
    The act of claiming for oneself the attributes and rights of God.
    An irreverent or impious act, attitude, or utterance in regard to something considered inviolable or sacrosanct.

    Comment by BC — May 29, 2009 @ 4:01 pm

  62. Carl,

    What has my “approval bar for procedure steps” included other than that the committee is made up of a group representative of our community? Those who did not want this proposal but did want EVERY student to feel safe and welcomed DID reach out to the LGBT committee to find common ground; but they were shunned – is that the way you support putting an “inclusive” curriculum together? (That is another direct question.)

    As far as that brave and proud young man who spoke the other night (ACLC must be as proud of him as of the 9th grader who placed 2nd in the State science fair) – what does this curriculum do for him or other high school harassment victims he mentioned – you use him as an example of need as you endorse a program that does NOTHING to support kids in middle or high school.

    How can you dismiss him as an example of a greater need to address LGBT issues in middle and high school? HOW? WHY?

    These are serious questions that you have been ignoring! The need is there NOW. Little kids don’t need an LGBT curriculum in elementary school to address teasing and bullying in elementary school.

    Perhaps every student in middle and high school should have at least one full class period of introduction to the gay & straight alliance which already exists in Alameda’s middle and high schools, AND perhaps middle and high school staff must be told HOW they are to intervene in EVERY bit if harassment they witness. This is NOT yet done in our schools. Maybe in the middle school GSA intros, the “ally” lesson could be used, but that is not okay with many 4th grade parents. (Personally I would not mind that for my 4th grader next year, but I would expect their responses to be based on peers rather than real self-examination. –and my kids are not members of congregation that does not approve of homosexual behavior.) Also try to realize there is a difference between not accepting a behavior and not accepting a person – I think most parents “get” that. I try to explain to my boys the importance of keeping their word, but when their behavior is ‘unacceptable, I don’t reject my kids. Imagine how that can parallel how some of our community may not accept homosexual behavior, but still accept homosexual people, may love some, may want some of AUSD gay teachers for their kids. But again – this is why the committee should have been made up of a representative mix, like our community. Pretty simple concept.

    Ideas like these, coupled with adding positive stories of gay and lesbian families in early classroom reading books for “mirroring” our youngest students of homosexual parents would be a much better solution IMO than what was proposed, but it should still involve a committee representative of the community.

    BC – If I had time, perhaps I could find ways to say more in fewer words, alas, I have a limited command of my language and I also lack endless hours. Perhaps you will sometimes have to ‘catch up’ after work hours.

    I have a busy week end planned but will to to check back to see if anybody else realizes that the proposal the BOE voted on was not the ONLY way to address AUSD’s needs.

    Maybe some one will also be able to find out and state what Mooney’s Motion meant too, and if all 3 who voted yes agree on the meaning of the motion. (see#46)

    Comment by David Kirwin — May 29, 2009 @ 5:08 pm

  63. BC – Blasphemy – (Encarta) 1. disrespect for religion…for God or sacred things; 2.Something showing disrespect for religion, something done or said that shows disrespect for God or sacred things.

    Comment by dk — May 29, 2009 @ 5:13 pm

  64. 62 The use of “IMO” rather than the usual “IMHO” fits for one who presumes to judge/condemn others as blasphemous. Who made you Judge on matters of religion?

    52 “Name any lies, or deceit from Spencer.” Hard to know where to start on that one. So many to choose from. . .

    Comment by Morning in Alameda — May 29, 2009 @ 5:31 pm

  65. 63: Exactly! This is clearly not equal to your definition, viz “Denying the validity of someone’s religion.”

    Comment by BC — May 29, 2009 @ 5:41 pm

  66. Following the BOE’s decision, David Kirwin summarized this issue well on the “Lesson Planning: Kindergarten” thread:

    “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.

    Comment by Minneapolis Parent — May 30, 2009 @ 5:18 am

  67. #65 – Denying the validity of someone’s religion is not disrespecting it?

    Maybe that is true for you as it was for him, but if you take yer blinders off, you’ll realize there are lots of others in this community and lots of other perspectives.

    ..Why it’s as if you want to pretend others with different values and beliefs than you just don’t exist… as if by denying their existence they will just go away…. But they do exist, they have a right to exist and to be different and hold different values and beliefs than you…And their right to that is constitutionally protected – don’t you yet realize that’s what this is all about – that now YOU are being the fascist fear-monger, as if acknowledging these people exist is going to challenge your kids thinking that traditional values might be an alternative to explore?

    Sound familiar?

    Well, as far as I know no one in these religions, which are protected constitutionally are trying to force their opinions on the children of this community; they simply don’t want their legally protected values trashed in public school. They are trying to protect their kids the same way LGBT parents are.

    AND as repeatedly pointed out they were willing to help the LGBT community achieve LGBT goals if they (AUSD) would teach it in a way that would not infringe on 1st Amendment rights. By their actions the district said “you don’t exist” to these protected classes of citizens. These agruments to defend the religious are like the same arguments I was using to fight Measure 8. It saddens me that this school district that “talks” tolerance actually lacks it.

    As I’ve said before the religious argument in just one problem with this curriculum.

    And if this was really about meeting AB 397 or 594, we would be addressing harassment in middle and high school, and we would be ‘walking on eggshells’ to not infringe on the rights and religions of other groups in our school community.

    So to me the LGBT community with the support of AUSD who used lies and deceit to further the promotion of the agenda are the snarky assholes who don’t respect others. Case closed.

    If this is a response to the Prop 8 battle; Do two wrongs make a right in Alameda school politics?

    Mutual respect would provide a committee with all perspectives working together to achieve the goals with no blowback damage to any party, or the community as a whole.

    Failing that we have animosity and a split community.

    #64 – “52 “Name any lies, or deceit from Spencer.” Hard to know where to start on that one. So many to choose from. . .”

    Yeah, right, maybe true in your anonymous delusions, but in reality, you can’t name a single one. Spencer maintained correct public school ethics trying to insure the program met goals for LGBT without damage to others. Thankfully she takes the time to try to ask the questions rather than taking blind irrational action. There is nothing wrong with asking questions, it is the questions not asked that are of concern.

    Comment by David Kirwin — May 30, 2009 @ 7:45 am

  68. 65: OK, DK, you’re clearly no logician. Yes, I can deny the validity of a religion without disrespecting it. I don’t believe that God exists. I think that implies that I deny the validity of most religions. I don’t, however, think that implies I disrespect religions or their followers. I ask you again, does that in your opinion make me a blasphemer? And if a Christian says that the only way to heaven is through believing Jesus is the son of God, is he blaspheming Islam? I fully acknowledge religious people exist. Don’t call me a fascist (Kirwinian capitalization omitted) fear-monger just because you have limited powers of reasoning and are unable to understand the nuances of language. Usually you’re just a source of amusement (calling me a shill and several other things, ranting like a three-year old and so on) but being called a fascist by you actually rather annoys me.

    Comment by BC — May 30, 2009 @ 11:32 am

  69. I respect the religious beliefs of others. I understand that some consider homosexuality a perversion and a sin against G-d. Having grown up in a time when Christian prayers in the public schools were still the norm and having grown up in a minority religion (Jewish) I certainly am sensitive to having ones religious beliefs violated by the state.

    Whatever happens in the public schools is the result of politics not religion. No one can expect that their family’s religious beliefs will be held up by the state.

    My family suffered the most horrible of persecutions. I’m only aware of the events of the pogroms through Nazi occupied Europe, though persecution existed for centuries prior to that. In spite of all of that, there are still Jews today. Shouldn’t Christians be able to survive a few lessons taught in the Alameda public schools without suffering irreparable harm? If some parents truly feel that their children are being threatened, then shouldn’t they opt for parochial schools or home schooling — an option that was not available when I was a child.

    If one truly believes in his or her faith, would a different lesson taught in the public schools truly endanger passing along that faith to one’s children?

    Comment by AlamedaNayTiff — May 30, 2009 @ 7:57 pm

  70. “If one truly believes in his or her faith, would a different lesson taught in the public schools truly endanger passing along that faith to one’s children?”

    This would be true if we were talking about adults, or even high school kids, not our youngest most impressionable little kids.

    For me the bigger issue is that lies and deceit is being condoned by our elected representatives and school superintendant as acceptable behavior to promote acceptance of this agenda.

    We cannot have “exclusive representation” dictating the education of our kids. We wouldn’t have only ESL parents and ESL teachers determine the reading and grammar books for all students, or only AP parents and AP teachers determine the math curriculum for all.

    Without an inclusive committee the only outcome that could be expected was a divisive one. Why would the public support a BOE or AUSD staff that will lie to us with impunity?

    This is worse than expected in terms of how I thought our school district was run.

    Comment by David Kirwin — May 31, 2009 @ 11:31 am

  71. #69 — ANT, I thought your post was beautifully worded.

    I also have wondered why some of these families are not more confident about their ability to instill their own beliefs in their children. Young children are impressionable, yes, but they’re also still very tuned in to the beliefs of their parents.

    I also wonder how carefully these families protect their children against other influences at work in this culture that might run counter to their moral/religious beliefs.

    E.g., I’m far more concerned about the normalization of violence and consumerism in the media than the normalization of homosexuality.

    Comment by Susan Davis — May 31, 2009 @ 12:44 pm

  72. So the new outrage is supposed to be “condoning” what someone else alleges to be lies and deceit?

    I guess that means that if anyone on one side of an issue does something deceitful, then everyone on that side should abandon an otherwise sensible policy.

    Since those opposed to this policy continued to oppose it after it became clear that some on their side were bigoted homophobes, it sure sounds like they “condoned” homophobia. Outrageous?

    Comment by Condoning Condoning? — May 31, 2009 @ 12:46 pm

  73. #72 CC – I guess that means if our government lies to gain support for something, (like the war in Iraq) its okay for you, – our government should be expected to lie to us? How does that affect a democratic republic?

    I don’t condone our school district administrators or the BOE lying to the public – ever.

    “…an otherwise sensible policy?”

    Sure it makes sense if you are willing to have the districted sued, if you want to divide the community, and wish to forgo any hope of an additional parcel tax to help our schools as Measure A & H sunset in 2012.

    Personally I don’t see anything sensible about it even if you ignore the easily foreseen consequences – there are so many better ways to achieve the goals that this curriculum vote really should have been a “policy” vote, not a curriculum vote – not until all stakeholders worked to an agreement together.

    Comment by Circling the Drain — May 31, 2009 @ 7:32 pm

  74. #73 — “Sure it makes sense if you are willing to…forgo any hope of an additional parcel tax to help our schools as Measure A & H sunset in 2012.”

    Obstructing a parcel tax might seem like a good way to punish the adults who supported this curriculum (whether that’s the superintendent, the three board members who voted “yes”, or district staff.)

    But it’s the kids in the district who would really suffer such a boycott, including those of the people who opposed the curriculum.

    The phrase “cutting off your nose to spite your face” comes to mind when I hear such threats…It just doesn’t seem like a prudent strategy.

    Comment by Susan Davis — May 31, 2009 @ 8:20 pm

  75. No, lying is not ok.

    The argument in 70 seemed to be that since the author of 70 claims there were lies and deceit sometime in the past, it follows that the board’s adoption now of a policy the board favors as a sensible policy on the merits can’t be valid because adopting it somehow condones the allegedly flawed actions of others in the past. That argument doesn’t make sense.

    Since Obama didn’t immediately withdraw all US troops from Iraq, has he condoned everything Bush allegedly did and is Obama’s Iraq policy wrong just because of what Bush allegedly did?

    If action can only follow a perfect process, we won’t be seeing much action.

    The school board’s newly adopted policy is the right policy.

    Comment by Condoning Condoning? — May 31, 2009 @ 9:17 pm

  76. ….But district staff repeatedly lied to the public about this curriculum, and did so in a way which gained public support from all those people who just learned from the brief “sound bites” and never learned the whole story.

    Lies such as;

    “Parents would be able to be part of the process forming the curriculum”;

    “This curriculum is required by law”;

    “Berkeley Unified has a similar curriculum they have been using”

    You think promoting this curriculum with lies is okay? Or it’s not okay, but so what?
    If you say you don’t think lying is okay, what is the consequence?

    If suing the District, and rejecting further parcel taxes is what it will take to teach AUSD executive staff & BOE that they need to listen to, and respect the community; to be honest, open and to not diminish AUSD integrity; and to always find solutions that are workable; then these are the steps that are necessary.
    What is your alternative?

    Obviously the public outpouring of emotion, hundreds of speakers, (which excluded me), and over 1500 e-mails should have given the BOE an idea of the immense challenge they faced to keep the community together, but they did not even look for a way to get a representative committee together.

    Despite the fact that most of those who spoke at meetings, or who sent in e-mails, opposed the curriculum as proposed; despite the fact that LDS parents were bringing readers depicting gay and lesbian headed families for use in our schools youngest grades; despite the fact that Mike McMahon’s website has a paper on how to deal with 1st amendment issues; ( ) the deciding 3 on the BOE thumbed their noses at the majority of the community, ignored the idea that other alternatives existed, and failed to follow the pattern of every school district with a successful program which all started with committees made up of different groups representing all sides so they could build on a foundation acceptable to the community.

    The path that Mooney, Jenson, and Tam chose is unacceptable; it condones the lying and deceit by AUSD staff, it leaves the community terribly split; it shows a lack of intellectual sensitivity for those with backgrounds dissimilar to themselves; it shows an inability to think out side the box for seeking ways to achieve goals without harm.

    ..and it is a ‘curriculum’ , not a policy – the ‘policy’ existed since 2000 or 2001 -That’s Board policy 5145.3 -You can look it up.

    Comment by David Kirwin — May 31, 2009 @ 10:20 pm

  77. #76
    I’ll bet you were a big fan of “The X-Files,” weren’t you? (Cue the theme music.)

    Comment by Linda Hudson — June 1, 2009 @ 1:00 am

  78. P.S.: I loved the show but much of it made no sense whatsoever. Think about that, “Fox.”

    Comment by Linda Hudson — June 1, 2009 @ 1:01 am

  79. From this conversation, it sounds like the choice is between two options; religious beliefs will either be upheld by the state or trampled by the state. Is there not a middle ground, where religion, including LGBT, can be left out of classroom curriculum?

    I have to ask, what is the mission of the elementary schools of the district? Does this new curriculum directly support that mission? What if the schools focused exclusively on core academic fundamentals? Leave the social issues, upon which we clearly cannot all agree, to the parents. The school day is short, but it is long enough if the school’s mission is focused, not diffused. Just a thought.

    Back to religion; I have another question to consider. Is LGBT a religion?

    The doctrine of the separation of church and state, though not explicitly stated in the U.S. Constitution, is commonly invoked in the public schools. The doctrine has its’ roots in the First Amendment, and has been a central issue of numerous court decisions in the last 60 years. Though most would agree on the general principle, it has long been a contentious issue in the public schools. In public schools, the discovery of culture is exceedingly more welcomed than the exploration of religion. But, how is that line drawn? To answer that question, I find it helpful to consider the question, “What is Religion?” Wanting a general and secular definition, I turned to Wikipedia.

    From Wikipedia, “Religion, Definitions of Religion”

    “Sociologists and anthropologists tend to see religion as an abstract set of ideas, values, or experiences developed as part of a cultural matrix. For example, in Lindbeck’s /Nature of Doctrine,/ religion does not refer to belief in “God” or a transcendent Absolute. Instead, Lindbeck defines religion as, “a kind of cultural and/or linguistic framework or medium that shapes the entirety of life and thought… it is similar to an idiom that makes possible the description of realities, the formulation of beliefs, and the experiencing of inner attitudes, feelings, and sentiments.”

    According to this definition, religion refers to one’s primary worldview and how this dictates one’s thoughts and actions. Considering this definition, is LGBT a religion?

    Religions include rites of passage. A few examples are Bar Mitzvah, Baptism, Pilgrimage, Confirmation, being Born-Again. Is Coming-Out as GLBT a rite of passage? These rites are celebrated events; encouraged by the faithful that have passed these milestones before us. They establish a date to be remembered; an anniversary to be celebrated.

    Religion is a powerful and influential force in forming relationships, choosing a mate, and parenting. There is an underlying bond from knowing that only insiders know what it truly means to be a part of this religion. Is this true of LGBT?

    Religious communities come together to raise funds, volunteer to support a cause, appeal to school boards, socialize in picnics and potlucks. Does that describe LGBT?

    What of the alphabet soup of GLBT, GLBTQ, LGBT, LGBTQ, GLBTA? Are these different denominations of the religion, each emphasizing different elements of the faith?

    Is it right for one group’s moral teachings to be offered in the public school, at the expense of many other groups? Is this religion right for the classroom?

    Choosing a set of moral values, and teaching them in the elementary classrooms is not good for any group, including the LGBT. It is divisive, and it creates an environment where a group or religion can force its’ belief system into classroom curriculum. It invites a backlash response, which will lead to hostility in relationships in the school and the community.

    One religious group advancing at the expense of others sets a dangerous precedent. Some day, if the LGBT community finds that their children and their families have been thrown under the school bus, will they remember that they drove that bus through the schoolhouse door?

    Comment by Minneapolis Parent — June 1, 2009 @ 7:17 am

  80. I believe Berkeley is piloting their LGBT curriculum for K-5 in 2008/09 at one of their elementary schools. It is called “Welcoming
    Schools” and has three parts: family diversity, gender identity, and anti-bullying.

    Comment by Mike McMahon — June 1, 2009 @ 7:18 am

  81. Mike – Check with BUSD curriculum dept, and check with their superintendent’s dept – I did. And I talked to both their PIO, and Judy Appel of who both told me no curriculum has been started at BUSD, but they have been talking about how to put one together for years.

    Talking about how to design a curriculum is very different from having classroom lessons, isn’t it? How did you you interpret the information AUSD staff told you regarding BUSD’s “similar curriculum”?

    Since Barry Chersky sits on’s board I’m guessing he is well aware that BUSD has no classroom curriculum in use yet, (especially since he and Judy were sitting together at some of the AUSD BOE meetings), but he still allowed AUSD staff to incorrectly inform AUSD BOE in his presence, and he never made the correction. You want to put your trust in such integrity? Perhaps Judy will be speaking to BUSD’s BOE next year saying Alameda has been using a “similar curriculum”.

    Then you may ask their superintendent why their PIO is telling the press that BUSD has been using such a curriculum for years, and ask what the consequences of that are for him. His position was established as part of a parcel tax to insure the community stayed informed. Isn’t truth a mandate for such a position?

    With the number of times this was brought up before the vote – why wasn’t the BOE still ignorant of the truth at the time of the vote?

    Comment by David Kirwin — June 1, 2009 @ 12:26 pm

  82. With the number of times this was brought up before the vote – why was the BOE still ignorant of the truth at the time of the vote?

    Comment by David Kirwin — June 1, 2009 @ 12:28 pm

  83. #81 — According to an email exchange I had with Judy Appel this morning, the district has indeed piloted “Welcoming Schools” in an elementary school in BUSD.

    Appel’s organization, “Our Family,” also trained half of the certified and half of the classified staff from every elementary school in BUSD this January. (Again, this is from an email exchange I had with her this morning.)

    I view this as a misinterpretation of terms, not deceit.

    Comment by Susan Davis — June 1, 2009 @ 1:02 pm

  84. I think it is deceit if she tells different stories to different people depending upon their views of her actions.

    Also AUSD has been “piloting” this program in our schools without adapting or approving it as a BOE approved curriculum.

    Comment by David Kirwin — June 1, 2009 @ 1:17 pm

  85. #84 — David, in the comments you’ve posted since Tuesday night, you have accused Judy Appel, Mike McMahon, Tracy Jenson, Ron Mooney, Neil Tam, Kirstin Vital, Barry Chersky, Laura Rose, AUSD staff, the local LGBT community, and the national LGBT comunity of lying, cheating, and deceiving, as well as being exclusive, ignorant, inexperienced, dishonest, insincere, and “snarky assholes.”

    Enough is enough.

    At a certain point your own tone belies anything you profess to believe about the importance of people being kind and respectful to each other.

    Comment by Susan Davis — June 1, 2009 @ 6:06 pm

  86. #85-
    I’m crushed.

    I could have sworn I had qualified for and made Dave’s “A-list” for “lying, cheating, and deceiving, as well as being exclusive, ignorant, inexperienced, dishonest, insincere, and ‘snarky assholes.'”

    Does this mean I have to be content with being labeled as a lowly “what if” and an A-List wannabe? Not being “HUMBLE” enough, have I truly failed to make Alameda’s “first string” of personas non gratas?

    Susan, say it ain’t so!

    Comment by Jon Spangler — June 1, 2009 @ 8:20 pm

  87. Susan, I appreciate your concerns, but you’ve exaggerated quite a bit in post #85, and I certainly did not call all those people all those names, and BTW – who is Laura Rose?

    I will say you are right on the money if you say what I said;

    that Judy Appel, and Barry Chersky have been deceptive;

    that AUSD staff has been insincere, dishonest, and have lied to the public and the BOE;

    that some of the members of the local LGBT community have been ‘snarky’, (calling them “assholes was an inappropriate way for me to vent my rage and powerlessness, and I apologize for that), but I don’t forgive the ‘curriculum committee’ for maintaining their undeserved exclusive privilege and refusing to meet and negotiate with others in our community with differing viewpoints;

    I don’t believe I said anything about Mike McMahon, other than on his website is a paper on how this should have been handled- ( );

    I don’t recall EVER making any comment on national LGBT groups;
    …and who is Laura Rose – I certainly never said anything addressing her,

    It was a mistake of the staff, superintendant, and BOE for allowing the “exclusive privilege” of the curriculum committee;

    Tam Jenson and Mooney were clearly insincere or ignorant of the many better ways the goals of anti-harassment and anti bullying could have been addressed for all students;

    Did I say this was due to their inexperience or was my remark about inexperience on the dais last week only in reference to the fact that during the course of the evening, the staff made many alterations to how the curriculum would be addressed, yet those making , seconding, and voting for the motion never made clear if any or all of those changes were incorporated in the motion – did all three even have the same idea in their heads on what they were voting on?

    Can anyone “roll tape” to review to try to determine that point?
    Has anyone asked these 3 what they voted on as far as all the alterations?
    Were all the thinking the same thing, and are they all willing to screw up the future of our kids opportunities just to not examine wetter ways to meet the objective?

    As for “cheating” the poetic rhythm of the word works with your rant, but you’ll have to show me how and where I used the word as you describe.

    Has anyone yet pointed out that even the basic objective of the curriculum changed for the meeting of 5-26-09?

    The objective the committee was formed to address was District Goal #3: “Ensure all students will be in educational environments that are safe and conducive to learning.” – The legal references were AUSD Board Policy 5145.3: Nondiscrimination / harassment; Education Code Section 2000; Penal Code Section 422.6 (a); and AB 537: Student Safety & Violence Prevention Act of 2000.

    For The AUSD BOE meeting of 5-26-09, the Lesson #9 Update states the Policies as;

    AUSD Board Policy 01000: Philosophy, Goals, objectives and Comprehensive Plans, and
    AUSD Board Policy 0410.1: Cultural Diversity and Nondiscrimination
    ..and no legal references were listed.

    So when exactly did the objective of the committee change, and under whose direction? Did this require public notice, or does the district feel it has a right to operate our district in secret, despite the comments to the contrary?

    And importantly what happened to the original goals – why were they so diminished?

    It appears that once the LGBT realized they had exclusive authority over the district they could change the focus from “School safety for all” to “Welcoming LGBT to AUSD.”

    Comment by David Kirwin — June 1, 2009 @ 8:50 pm

  88. #86 —
    “I don’t recall EVER making any comment on national LGBT groups”

    (See your #20, this thread, 5th paragraph and last paragraph)

    “…and who is Laura Rose – I certainly never said anything addressing her”

    (See your #10, this thread)

    “I don’t believe I said anything about Mike McMahon, (See your question at the end of #81, this thread, which sounds like a challenge to Mr. McMahon, but maybe I’m being oversensitive)

    “As for “cheating” …you’ll have to show me how and where I used the word as you describe.”

    (See #20, this thread)

    Comment by Susan Davis — June 1, 2009 @ 9:23 pm

  89. Whoops! That last post was directed at #87, not #86.

    So many details, so little time.

    Comment by Susan Davis — June 1, 2009 @ 9:24 pm

  90. Susan:

    You have successfully devolved the conversation into a “he said/she said”. Do you really think that is productive, or is it a diversion?

    From my experience with this same issue in Minneapolis, I can say that it ain’t over until it is over, and even then it ain’t over.

    Whether or not you agree with me that LGBT is a religion, you cannot deny that the beliefs of one group has become the material of classroom curriculum, at the expense of others. Is that right? Of course it’s right if you are a member of the group that is on the benefiting end of the transaction. Not a nice way to run schools; don’t accept it.

    Comment by Minneapolis Parent — June 2, 2009 @ 6:37 am

  91. 90: how old do you think the earth is?

    Comment by BC — June 2, 2009 @ 8:41 am

  92. #90 —

    In my post #85, I was decrying the fact that even as DK says he is dedicated to teaching all children not to bully, he is slandering adults in this district right and left.

    He then denied that he had said such things. So I simply pointed out that yes, he had said exactly those things.

    I did this because a cornerstone of any good bullying program is teaching children to be aware of their feelings and actions, so that they can manage themselves — and their interactions — more skillfully. I find this to be missing in DK’s behavior on this blog, which makes me question his understanding of the underlying goals of the Safe Schools curriculum.

    As for your experience in Minneapolis, I find it to be irrelevant to this discussion. You are from a district that is thousands of miles away from Alameda. That district is using a different curriculum than the one that has been approved by our Board of Education. I suspect you know very little about our district, our community, or the families who live here. I honestly don’t understand why you’re posting here.

    Comment by Susan Davis — June 2, 2009 @ 9:11 am

  93. Susan:

    Yes, we are geographically separated by a great distance, but we have and are dealing with the same issue, and the parallels are disappointingly evident. I am posting here for the same reason everyone else is posting here; I want to be heard. I could easily pretend to be a local; you don’t know the identity or location of the anonymous posters. I am being honest. I am a Minneapolis parent opposing LGBT curriculum in elementary school classrooms.

    In this battle to reach the classroom, the ends justify the means. As I mentioned in an earlier post regarding Minneapolis, power is being abused. Our local elementary school is using the police to silence opposition. More than one school has issued a ban (criminal trespass) to a parent. Unity is no concern, just an insignificant casualty of the battle.

    We have the curriculum that is allegedly in Berkley, courtesy of the HRC. The district’s curriculum review process was circumvented. Why are we taking unreviewed curriculum from a special interest group? It arrive on a wave of lies, deceit, and abuse of power. Does not sound so different or irrelevant to me.

    You don’t know what I do or don’t know about your district/community/families. Please, enlighten me as to how our children and your children are different.

    Comment by Minneapolis Parent — June 2, 2009 @ 10:27 am

  94. Susan,

    Just so you know why MP is posting here. There is a long held tradition in the right-wing community. Make sure you stick your nose in other peoples business and judge everyone else is their motto. They love to quote from the bible and seem to love any passage that puts someone else’s situation into question. They never seem to quote the part where God talks about not judging other people.

    Comment by member of a real family — June 2, 2009 @ 11:03 am

  95. Real Family:

    This whole issue is about putting your business in front of other people’s children.

    You have judged me, but if you review what I have written, I have made no judgments; quoted no bible passages, and made no disrespect.

    Comment by Minneapolis Parent — June 2, 2009 @ 11:14 am

  96. #93 — Thank you for your invitation to have a dialogue with you.

    Given the limited amount of time I have, however, I’m going to decline.

    I would rather focus my time and energy on supporting my local district in its efforts to implement the new lesson, expand its current anti-bullying curriculum, and handle some very serious budget cuts on the horizon.

    Comment by Susan Davis — June 2, 2009 @ 11:24 am

  97. We pause from our normal programming to provide this Public Service Announcement: Tonight at Edison Elematary School starting at 6:30pm AUSD staff will be presenting information on how implementing more charter schools within Alameda would impact us. Child care will be provided. For more details see this flyer:

    We now resume our regular programming.

    Comment by Mike McMahon — June 2, 2009 @ 12:54 pm

  98. I think Susan has asked a good question.

    I would add

    Why doesn’t Minneapolis parent state a name?

    Does Minneapolis parent have any organizational affiliations?

    “I am being honest. I am a Minneapolis parent opposing LGBT curriculum in elementary school classrooms.”

    This statement seems to imply that Minneapolis parent is part of a more coordinated effort.

    “In this battle to reach the classroom, the ends justify the means. As I mentioned in an earlier post regarding Minneapolis, power is being abused. Our local elementary school is using the police to silence opposition. More than one school has issued a ban (criminal trespass) to a parent. Unity is no concern, just an insignificant casualty of the battle.”

    I think Minneapolis parent’s grievance is with the actions of the Minneapolis School Board. I consider his/her postings an unwelcome contribution to the discussion.

    Comment by Carl Halpern — June 2, 2009 @ 12:55 pm

  99. From post #10:
    Now that staff and the LGBT community have pushed this over the wall who will put the community back together again? Pastor Rose should have reached out during the debate, now it is too late.

    I don’t think anyone reading this would say I labeled Pastro Rose as; lying, cheating, and deceiving, as well as being exclusive, ignorant, inexperienced, dishonest, insincere, and “snarky assholes.” I think you are making a distraction and still have not addressed the actual issues.

    From Post #20
    While my gay and lesbian friends know I still love and care and respect them as I have, as individuals, I will no longer support the LGBT political aims. While my friends tell me I will settle back to myself, that this is a local thing only and should not change my outlook, it most certainly has changed my outlook.
    Is this where you suggest I called the National LGBT group; lying, cheating, and deceiving, as well as being exclusive, ignorant, inexperienced, dishonest, insincere, and “snarky assholes.” I don’t see that here, I think you are making a distraction and still have not addressed the actual issues.

    (From Post #20)..And this is where I used the word “cheating?
    I can accept almost anything or anybody that wants to be accepted (or not), but liars and cheats in government are intolerable to me.
    You shoould know I stand by this and I think you are trying to make a distraction and still have not addressed the actual issues.

    Comment by David Kirwin — June 2, 2009 @ 12:58 pm

  100. If only we’d known that tolerance curriculum would solve these trying societal problems like deep seeded bigotry and racism.

    Next topic: unicorn or pegasus: which will get us to work faster?

    Comment by Anonymous Enough — June 2, 2009 @ 1:12 pm

  101. #99 —

    Hmm. I think you missed my point.

    Ah well. It was worth a try.

    Comment by Susan Davis — June 2, 2009 @ 1:34 pm

  102. #98:

    I think it is clear from what I have written, that I and others have experienced persecution due to our opposition to the HRC’s WS curriculum. If the local school does not like what someone says or writes, they have the police ban that person from the school grounds and anywhere else in the community where that school has a gathering. For that reason, I withhold my name. Reading the threads, I see many postings are anonymous, but you have single me out for critique. Why?

    If you consider my contributions unwanted, have them banned. It has been done before, and is not hard to accomplish.

    Comment by Minneapolis Parent — June 2, 2009 @ 1:39 pm

  103. #101 Susan, neither you nor anyone else has addressed my points, and they are directly related to the curriculum.

    IF you are so concerned about the WAY I bring this subject matter to the blog’s attention, why don’t you understand that much of the community also in concerned about the WAY the proposed curriculum brings information to K-5 Children?

    Comment by David Kirwin — June 2, 2009 @ 3:15 pm

  104. Why won’t anyone play with someone who has TEMPER TANTRUMS until everyone agrees with him and does whatever he says?

    Comment by GO aWAY — June 2, 2009 @ 3:46 pm

  105. If so much of the community is in agreement with everything you claim (on every subject, no just this one) you should run for mayor!

    Comment by member of a real family — June 2, 2009 @ 5:00 pm

  106. To Minneapolis parent,

    I recognize that some people prefer to post anonymously and I respect that.

    I also assume that this is a an Alameda question, as are the other issues discussed on this site. I also assume that the people commenting are Alamedans.

    I could be wrong.

    I know that LGBT and national Christian organizations have an interest in the discussion of the bullying curriculum.

    However, the Alameda school curriculum is basically a local matter being debated by Alamedans.

    That’s why I consider your comments unwelcome.

    I’m not requesting that you be censored or banned.

    I assume that you will continue to post anonymously and not answer the question of whether you have any organizational affiliations.

    My comments about your participation are just that, the views of one Alamedan.

    Comment by Carl Halpern — June 2, 2009 @ 5:44 pm

  107. Carl:

    I was not asked if I had an organizational affiliation. In #98, you interpreted my statements to imply that I was part of a more coordinated effort. I speak for myself and for my family. I have no organizational affiliation. To protect my family from increased persecution/harassment, I will remain anonymous. If this affected me alone, I would not post anonymously. If you have children, I am sure that you will understand.

    Comment by Minneapolis Parent — June 2, 2009 @ 6:37 pm

  108. I have a good tip for everyone who wants to put an end to blog postings you find offensive, bullying, irrelevant, etc.

    JUST DON’T LOOK ( Hat tip to my great brother-in-law and his blog ( for the link.

    Comment by david burton — June 2, 2009 @ 10:36 pm

  109. Post #94, member of a real family:

    “Just so you know why MP is posting here. There is a long held tradition in the right-wing community. Make sure you stick your nose in other peoples business and judge everyone else is their motto. They love to quote from the bible and seem to love any passage that puts someone else’s situation into question. They never seem to quote the part where God talks about not judging other people.”

    My comments on this blog are concerned with LGBT classroom curriculum for children grades K-5. I am not concerned, like BC, with the age of the earth. By opposing a K-5 curriculum, I am attacking no one, and making no judgments.

    Back to Post #94 by member of a real family; I find the thinking behind those words troubling: I know something about you, and there is a stereotype, to which I subscribe, that completely defines you. I just described the foundation upon which racism was built. Very black and white; very digital thinking. And, the part about a motto; what person or group is so complex that they can’t be reduced to a motto?

    Since President Obama’s inauguration, his most ardent critic is a man who publiclysupports gay marriage. member of a real family, could this be true? Is there space for gray between the black and white of your world?

    Comment by Minneapolis Parent — June 3, 2009 @ 6:05 am

  110. #80 Mike – FYI

    #83 – Susan, can you verify where this curriculum is being piloted at Berkeley Unified?

    I haven’t received a return call from Judy Appel of “”, and none of the elementary schools I have asked in Berkeley have any idea if there is such a curriculum being piloted in that District, including Oxford elementary school which is where both Judy’s kids have gone to school, and where she started talking about such a program to staff and parents. Staff and parents at Oxford do say however that unlike the way this was (poorly) handled in Alameda, Judy has been very inclusive, sending many emails to all PTA’s, parents, and staff throughout the district for input and to invite them to attend meetings to talk about the best way to handle this program on welcoming inclusion of LGBT families. She is starting with an INCLUSIVE GROUP, just the way SFUSD did, so they could maintain a sense of united community support for their school district.

    Kudos to Judy for trying to do it right. She has apparently taken the time and commitment to build the program with community inclusion.

    BUSD Superintendent’s office still says there is no such program in use in BUSD, and that they are focused on curriculum to help close the achievement gap, that is their focus.

    Perhaps we could learn something from Berkeley about dealing with the achievement gap, rather than chipping at corners to design our own wheel while we are distracted with legal battles, philosophical battles, and possible recall votes, while wishing we hadn’t blown a chance for another tax measure.

    BTW when I was asking BUSD’s PIO why he was telling the press that BUSD was using the program for “over two years”, when such a curriculum has never been used, he responded that “it’s not like we are not talking about it”.Not quite the same – is it?

    He did also mention the Judy had held a training semin earlier this spring, and said 50 -75 people showed up which is a vastly different number than 50% of all teachers and staff from all 11 elementary schools.

    Again I have to question the integrity of the information you are providing Susan.
    Perhaps Judy can forward the sign-in sheets?

    Comment by David Kirwin — June 3, 2009 @ 9:21 pm

  111. #110-

    If Alamedans and the BOE convened a”common ground task force” NOW to pursue reconciliation, dialogue, and to implement the new CSC curriculum in a unifying way, would you join the process?

    Many of us are working on just that, because it is a logical next step. After reading your posts here, I was wondering how you might respond to such an invitation. Could you put aside the accusatory rhetoric long enough to engage in a real conversation?

    Would you be able to sit down with the people you have villified here (myself included) in an atmosphere of mutual respect and shared dialogue?

    I would actually like to be able to sit and talk to you without having to have my defensive shields up all the time. Would you come to the table to help make Alameda’s public schools safer places with more mutual respect?

    Would you be willing to leave your accusations at the door and sit down with me across a table?

    I am.

    Comment by Jon Spangler — June 3, 2009 @ 10:38 pm

  112. Of course Jon,

    But I am a single individual, and the BOE’s action started an avalanche which is past the “preventable” stage.

    Also it is not the next logical step – it is the step that logically should have been mandated PRIOR to a BOE vote – don’cha think?

    I think the next logical step is actually to eliminate the cause of the current problem. If we don’t take steps to prevent public employees from lying to the public and public boards and commissions are allowed to keep creating such messes, then we will continually be facing the same problems with different themes.

    Who is your “many of us” and are they talking to the other “many of us” of the other side who are also meeting to discuss the next steps?

    Comment by David Kirwin — June 3, 2009 @ 11:41 pm

  113. #110 —


    I had a very brief – and very friendly – email exchange with Judy Appel three days ago, because it seemed like there was some confusion about whether or not BUSD was using the Welcoming Schools curriculum.

    I.e.,I reached out to her so that we could lay this matter to rest and move on.

    I have no reason to believe she was lying to me about the pilot school or the number of teachers/staff who took the training last January.

    I’m not willing to contact her again about this matter; I’m certainly not going to ask her to forward me her sign-in sheets.

    If you’re still feeling suspicious of what she said, I’m afraid you’ll have to continue your investigation on your own.

    Comment by Susan Davis — June 4, 2009 @ 8:41 am

  114. That is what I have been doing and none of the elementary schools I have contacted are piloting the program or have heard that it is being piloted anywhere in the District, and the District’s Administrative offices say it is not in use, and Judy has not returned my call and responded to my request for such info.

    Needless to say I question the validity of claims that can not be verified, especially with all the disinformation which has been spread on the LGBT agendas both for Alameda and Berkeley school districts.

    I believe BUSD Superintendent’s office on this over those trying to promote their cause.

    Comment by David Kirwin — June 4, 2009 @ 10:41 am

  115. “Judy has not returned my call and responded to my request for such info.” I wonder why.

    Comment by BC — June 4, 2009 @ 11:35 am

  116. FWIW: This appears to be from a meeting in Feb 2008.

    The following is from the linked document.

    Emerson Elementary School in the BUSD is a Leadership Site for the Welcoming Schools Curriculum, and OFC is engaged in ongoing staff development work at Emerson. In addition, OFC has worked for two years directly with Oxford School on curriculum and staff development, and has been in conversation with staff at Thousand Oaks Elementary School. There is also interest at Le Conte and at Berkeley Arts Magnet Schools.

    From what appears to be the Emerson school library site.

    Comment by William Smyth — June 4, 2009 @ 12:26 pm


    BFT Co-Sponsors Family Diversity Workshop

    BFT, BUSD and Our Family Coalition co-sponsored a professional development workshop on the Welcoming Schools Curriculum for 50 elementary teachers and classified staff on Saturday, January 31st. Participants gave rave reviews of the content and the presenters. Berkeley has been in the forefront of the movement to create welcoming schools for LGBT families and BFT is proud to be a part of that collaboration. We are grateful for the financial support of the Berkeley Public Education Foundation and K-5 PTAs.

    Comment by William Smyth — June 4, 2009 @ 12:54 pm

  118. #116 and #117 — William, I have to wonder about the integrity of this information. Perhaps you could send me the sign in sheets for the City Council meeting and the Family Diversity Workshop? Frankly, I think it’s all a huge pack of lies.

    And dammit, there better not be any conversations about any of this stuff that don’t include me! Get it? No. Conversations. Without. Me.

    Comment by Davina Kerfuffle — June 4, 2009 @ 1:10 pm

  119. #116 & #117
    Thank you for these posts, you at least took some time to be responsive to the issue as opposed to post #118

    If you read the pages you have linked to, none refer to a K-5 Curriculum being used at BUSD, and none link to BUSD’s BOE.
    From the dates and the statements presented to Berkeley City Council in the first link where they are asking the City to help fund the program, it can be seen that a lot of time and energy goes into an inclusive program. You will notice that Berkeley is not divided because if this issue, and they are still able to pass parcel taxes for their schools.

    -They have spent years informing the public and getting feedback for an LGBT program, (not even a curriculum for classrooms), they have been inviting and including all of the community who are excited or concerned about this.

    -They have spent years trying to get teachers and staff better trained to include these issues in a way that is not offending other segments of the diverse community.

    They began putting a list together of books that would be in Emerson’s library, but there is nothing mentioned about any classroom instruction in K-5. (If I missed it, please highlight it.

    Your links also provide more evidence of realistic training numbers than what Susan had suggested in her posts.

    I think (almost) nobody in Alameda would be opposed to what Berkeley has done; the way Berkeley has done it. It is not too late for AUSD BOE to reconsider their vote, and do this the right way, or at least in a much better, inclusive way.

    But what are the chances now that sides have been taken and armies are marching?
    Will there be a strong BOE member to ‘step up’?

    Comment by David Kirwin — June 4, 2009 @ 3:50 pm

  120. Oops, I was incorrect about the book list.

    It is a linked list of books that have been suggested by the national Welcoming Schools Program, with some Berkeley additions.

    It does not say which, or if any books would be added to the school library, but let’s hope some will, or have been added.

    Comment by dk — June 4, 2009 @ 5:17 pm

  121. 112-

    “Many of us” =
    AUSD staff, members of Alameda CARE, Alamedans Together Against Hate, and more. (I don’t ask for sign-up sheets or attendance lists, I just trust my
    friends and go to work when the need presents itself. And it certainly has.)

    There is much work to be done, and replaying the past only slows down progress that needs to occur.
    If you are willing to join in the reconciliation process, then do it. Speak and act for yourself, and invite the “many of us” you know from either side to join you.


    Comment by Jon Spangler — June 5, 2009 @ 2:28 am

  122. Davina K: Loved your post.

    Comment by Linda Hudson — June 5, 2009 @ 2:38 am

  123. It’s clear that with the mounting “armies” the only possible solution must come from the BOE.

    Without a “Motion to reconsider” I have no hope the lawsuits, recalls, kids being kept home twice monthly as protest, -and the community remaining so heavily divided there will be absolutely no chance of passing a parcel tax for many years past the expiration of ‘A & H’. It has also come out that many teachers no not support this and will inform parents when lessons will be taught. Again my feelings are that no opt out should ever be needed – AUSD should use a curriculum that is not offensive to any group, and “all groups must be treated equally” is the basis of laws.

    The exclusionary program the BOE passed has split this community a ferocious way, and more completely than anyone can recall, -even those with a 40 year relationship to AUSD, and those groups opposing, (strangely including both the ‘pro-8’ side, concerned churches, those for racial equality, and extreme liberals who see the inequity of the BOE decision), it are joining together. Each side is talking strategy, not to each other as the BOE should have mandated prior to a vote.

    Have you been learning how Berkeley and SF has done this?

    Comment by David Kirwin — June 5, 2009 @ 6:42 am

  124. “The exclusionary program the BOE passed split this community a ferocious way, and more completely than anyone can recall.”

    Really? I thought SunCal’s plan had done this. That was last month, I guess. Or the movie theater renovation. Or Target in the South Shore Center. Or the hated city council that was sure to be beaten by the Action Alameda slate. Or the hospital parcel tax.

    Most people are blissfully unaware that this issue is tearing our little island city asunder. You may need to spread your rage and disgust with more zeal (perhaps by wearing a sandwich board outside Safeway). You’re missing a lot of people.

    Comment by BC — June 5, 2009 @ 7:55 am

  125. #112, #119



    A community split apart in a “ferocious” way?

    From what I see, you’re the primary one who’s escalating the rhetoric and trying to whip the locals into a frenzy here.

    To what end?

    At this point I’m half expecting to hear you talk about Conquest, War, Famine, and Death riding up Crown Beach on their horses.

    Comment by not hysterical — June 5, 2009 @ 9:13 am

  126. #122 — Linda,

    You seem like an intelligent and insightful person. I’m guessing that you’re mighty attractive too.

    It’s nice to finally see that someone appreciates me and my important contributions toward getting those dumbasses and blasphemers on the BOE (I’m excepting Trish Spencer, of course), the liars on the AUSD staff, and our incompetent superintendent to see the light.

    Unfortunately, it looks like there continue to be conversations going on without me. As a result, my legions of supporters are not being fully represented in getting my way. (Ooops! I meant “our” way.) Not that I would want to be involved in any conversations at this point anyway because it’s too damn late. They ignored me before. So even if they beg, I will not participate. That’ll show them!

    In any event, Linda, if you want to assist with our lawsuits, recalls, campaigns against any future parcel taxes and school boycotts, you know how to reach me. After all, we’re just doing it for the good of the kids, right?

    Comment by Davina K — June 5, 2009 @ 10:30 am

  127. 125. DK congers images of Joan of Arc, don’t you think? I’d love to have a bar-B-Q at Crown Beach but who needs martyrs?

    126. “Roger”, is that you?

    Comment by Fifth Horseman — June 5, 2009 @ 10:58 am

  128. #126
    ROFL…but very prettily.

    I think you meant “conjures,” but the barbeque idea has merit.

    Comment by Linda Hudson — June 5, 2009 @ 11:44 am

  129. #127 — I’m not Roger, but he is a nominee for the 3rd annual Davina Kerfuffle Memorial Truthiness in Alameda Public Service Award which will be bestowed at a gala ceremony in my kitchen next Tuesday morning. I’ll supply the Tasters Choice. Bring your own damn cigarettes.

    Comment by Davina K — June 5, 2009 @ 11:49 am

  130. #125 — Wasn’t Joan of Arc a good guy? I mean, girl?

    Wait! Was Joan of Arc gay? Oh no! Ban the books that mention her! Otherwise our innocent children will want to adopt the lifestyle of getting burned at the stake!

    Sadly, David Kirwin and his “armies” remind me of a whole other kind of Christian warrior:

    Comment by not hysterical — June 5, 2009 @ 1:21 pm

  131. #124

    Don’t be silly – SunCal has created controversy – sure; but little divisiveness –
    99.9% of Alameda does not support that kind of unbridled development on our little island.

    I think the only supporters are HOMES Board members, JKW, Lauren Do, Bev Jo & councilman Frank

    Of course it is possible they like other petition signers did not know what there were signing on for.

    All other supporters please sign on here:


    Comment by Another Alamedan — June 5, 2009 @ 2:23 pm

  132. #130 — I am totally against the burning of books (and people too). Our children should be taught that there are more eco-friendly ways of destroying the negative influences that are poisoning their innocent little minds. Composting comes to mind.

    In fact, I’ve submitted a list of books to the Superintendent’s office that reflect the positive, upside of making certain people second class citizens in an eco-friendly way. But once again, I have been ignored. Clearly, her lack of interest in my input reflects a complete disregard of the perilous state of our environment. I hope she’s happy when Alameda is choked in a thick cloud of smoke from the bonfires.

    Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

    Comment by Davina K — June 5, 2009 @ 2:55 pm

  133. “99.9% of Alameda does not support that kind of unbridled development on our little island.”

    Wow, even Kirwin himself only claims to speak for the majority of us. If your number’s correct, Action Alameda and SourCity Alameda must think we’re extremely dumb, given the amount of noise and nonsense they’re generating to stop 49.9% + 1 of us from being duped by those smooth-talking mainlanders.

    Comment by BC — June 5, 2009 @ 3:05 pm

  134. Linda – sometimes you’re a laugh-riot. But instead of being flattered for all the attention I’m crying that nobody cares enough about our schools to answer the harsh realities of posts #46; 62; 67, 76, 87, 112, or 119.

    It is very sad for our schools and the value of our city that you instead what to pretend these realities do not exist. This was terribly mishandled by our school district and with out any attempt for effective community involvement.

    You seem to want to remain clueless, so I will try to stop posting on this, but it is amazing all the different types of people at the meetings being held to fight the way this was handled. Hiding your head in the sand, will not make these problems diminish.

    There were all kinds of people at the last meeting I attended about this – from those who favored Prop 8 to those who took vigorous action against it; religious types to agnostics; students to grandparents; political advisors, teachers, lawyers, blue collar workers, suits, and reps from deep pocket agencies; republicans to liberal democrats; Afro-Americans, Asians, and Anglos. While I did not see our Muslim brothers and sisters, I am sure the invitation has now been extended.

    I can’t imagine I would ever be meeting or conversing with some of the people in the room, others were instant friends, but the primary mission statement was supported 100% – “We all object to this curriculum.” With some things the group may not see eye to eye, but on this there is unity. It was also clear that many do not want their names associated, but do believe in the mission statement and objectives. From a copy of the minutes I was sent, only 30 people signed their name with there contact info, but it was clear there are several different e-mail trees involved.

    It was apparent to me that most in the room did appreciate that a similar program would be a benefit for our community, but the decisions on which books and lessons should be used, how others should be treated, the lessons on other protected groups all need to be addressed, and on an issue such as this a representative community committee is a must. The caring School Curriculum that the BOE adopted a few years ago (including lessons 1-8) was a program that avoided any specific group reference, and other than lesson #9 (which only addresses LGBT) there is no lesson that addresses a specific group. Is treating all groups equally a wrong idea?

    There were some in the group that referred to the BOE as the “Board of Education” not the “Board of Socialization”. Although they have a point I can also see the flip side of that too, but it should never be forgotten that racism is still the #1 treat to AUSD students, (as across CA), in terms of hate related violence, and harassment. Not surprisingly that is exactly where the achievement gap also glares in our faces. But there are no caring school curriculum lessons that address that issue. So where is the equity and the equal treatment?

    Why are some BOE members not representing the majority? Why did this need to be rushed in a way so divisive to the community? Why did the LGBT committee have to pick the ‘Tango’ book? With almost 100 books on the list that was cited in post #116 – (the BUSD K-5 LGBT booklist), why did the AUSD LGBT committee have to flaunt their exclusive power by choosing the #1 book as far as instigating divisive battles? Did the BOE realize this in-your-face slight? Had the BOE even really educated them selves on the issue? Was this just a knee-jerk liberal feel-good decision without learning the disparity they were creating? Will AUSD be the 2nd school District Mr. Mooney leads into receivership?

    Sad that the District did not even try meeting with people of different perspectives. There should have been an attempt at a balanced curriculum committee. There is always common ground .The school district did not even try to be inclusive. If you care about the schools, you should be very concerned.

    Comment by David Kirwin — June 7, 2009 @ 8:54 pm

  135. #130
    Interesting video. I believe the Crusades started as a way to get all those “knights-errant” out of Europe. They were no better than well-equipped thugs who pillaged the countryside.

    Comment by Linda Hudson — June 7, 2009 @ 9:52 pm

  136. I want to share an email message I sent to the Alameda Board of Education in mid May as they were debating whether to adopt the anti-bullying curriculum:

    Dear Alameda Unified School District Board of Education,

    I am a former member of the San Leandro Unified School District Board of Education and parent of a Kindergarten child attending public school in San Leandro.

    During my term, San Leandro adopted a Safe School K-12 grade curriculum, working with the assistance of Barry Chersky. I believe the experience of San Leandro is relevant to your decision on adoption of an elementary school Safe School curriculum.

    After working through the challenges of development and adoption, implementation of the curriculum in San Leandro went smoothly. The curriculum has been widely supported by teachers, parents and students.

    I recently asked my daughter what she has learned this year about bullying. She responded, “No name calling, no teasing and be an ally.” Students are taught to recognize and reject the techniques of a bully. When bullying occurs, students are encouraged to be an ally of the victim by speaking out and reporting the bully to the teacher.

    The curriculum also strikes at many of the root causes of bullying including stereotypes, prejudice, and hostility toward students and adults based on sexual orientation or perceived sexual orientation. Family structures that include those with two dads or two moms are acknowledged and respected. Children are taught to treat everyone with respect and that school is a safe place to be who they are.

    If you asked me ten years ago whether teaching such messages to elementary school students was necessary, I would have expressed doubt. Today I see the nexus between educating elementary school children to respect all persons and families and schools that are free of bullying and violence among students.

    Attached are some photos of work produced by students at Roosevelt Elementary School in San Leandro as part of the Safe Schools curriculum that was posted at the beginning of the school year in the library. The photos will give you a sense of the all-inclusive, positive messages students are taught.

    From my experience as a school board trustee and parent, an elementary school curriculum that acknowledges our lesbian and gay parents as full partners in education and counters teasing, name calling, and bullying for all reasons, including because of a student’s sexual orientation or perceived sexual orientation, benefits all students. The curriculum plays an important role in creating a positive school climate and culture of tolerance that values each student and parent.

    Very truly yours,

    Stephen Cassidy

    I also submitted a shorter version of this letter to the San Francisco Chronicle which was published on May 30, 2009.

    Comment by Stephen Cassidy — July 1, 2009 @ 11:19 pm

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