Blogging Bayport Alameda

August 31, 2009

Parental advisory explicit content

Filed under: Alameda, School — Tags: , — Lauren Do @ 6:55 am

Over the weekend S.E.R.V.E. Alameda hosted a town hall meeting at the Library.   I didn’t go so I don’t know what happened.  

But to back up a bit, Michele Ellson gave a really good overview of what happened at last week’s School Board meeting, but I wanted to go back and highlight some of the stranger moments during the discussion around the Caring Schools Curriculum and Lesson 9.  

The agenda item that night was to discuss the Caring Schools Curriculum Support Guide and how the curriculum would be implemented as well as discussing the plan to move forward with creating a new curriculum to replace the Caring Schools Curriculum to better address issues of bullying.   Here is a clip of Superintendent Kristen Vital explaining just that.

So here are the highlights of that:

  • Current curriculum is good, but district thinks they can do better
  • Current curriculum will be implemented
  • Current curriculum is a framework
  • District would like to move forward to create a new explicit curriculum

Got that?  So after the whole presentation by staff, Boardmember Trish Spencer asks a clarifying question.   Which is fine, after all, that’s what the question and answer period is for:

So she asks for staff to basically reiterate what Superintendent Vital explained in her opening remarks, which Superintendent Vital does again.   The highlights of Superintendent Vital’s answer:

  • Current curriculum will be implemented
  • New curriculum will be created to explicitly address all the protected classes

Because, as mentioned previously, the current iteration of the Caring Schools Curriculum is a framework.   But because groups in Alameda have determined that every protected class need a curriculum specifically geared toward that group, the school district will be creating curriculum to explicitly address each protected class rather than use the framework model.

However, apparently that was not clear enough for Trish Spencer, because she asks the same question again, slightly reworded:

And the answer is, again from Superintendent Vital, highlights:

  • New curriculum will be created to explicitly address all the protected classes

But, that answer, I suppose, only further muddies the issue for Trish Spencer, because a similiar question is again posed.   At this point, I’m not quite sure if (1) she just doesn’t get it or (2) she’s trying to trap the Superintendent into some sort of “gotcha” moment.   It’s probably some combination of both.   However, the last answer given by Superintendent Vital is so explicit that there can be no mistaking what the intention of the school district is moving forward regarding the Safe School Curriculum:

She says:

Theoretically, Caring Schools Curriculum would address all the protected classes.  This district chose to adopt that curriculum, start that curriculum a couple of years ago and the goal was that would be the Safe Schools Curriculum for Alameda.  In all of the work in the now seven or eight months that we’ve gone through this process as staff, teachers, administrators what we have understood both for community voice from teacher voice is, at the board voice, that this is not explicitly addressing all of the protected classes in the way that this board and the Alameda community expects.  So theoretically, yes.  Explicitly, no.  That’s why we created the support guide in order to try to support this framework, more explicitly addressing all of the protected classes.

A little bit later Trish Spencer tries a different tactic, asking why Lesson 9 is not suspended until the new curriculum is created since she has interpreted the answers given by Superintendent Vital as saying that the district does not have a policy in place to protect the other protected classes of bullying.    Superintendent Vital, again, explains the whole framework vs explicit curriculum, once again.

At this point, I’m pretty sure that this is all political maneuvering on the part of Trish Spencer and it’s getting a bit tiresome. (Sorry about the janky audio!)

The kicker to this whole business though is Trish Spencer making a motion that she really isn’t allowed to make because it wasn’t properly noticed under the Brown Act.    Her question preceeding the motion of how many lawsuits have been filed because of Lesson 9 and uncomfortable silence after the answer of “just one” was simply strange.   But I guess everything prior to that had been leading up to this

Except, I’m sure for the fact that (1) no one seconded her motion and (2) she probably wasn’t allowed to make the motion in the first place.   To add insult to injury, no one else indicated that they even wanted to entertain the idea of agendizing her motion for another meeting.

As an aside, the school district has posted an FAQ about the Lesson 9.

43 Comments

  1. Protected Classes: What a sad commentary on the state of education in the age of political correctness.

    Comment by Jack Richard — August 31, 2009 @ 8:47 am

  2. And everyone seems to forget that these curricula are STATE MANDATED.

    Under the law of the land, all “classes” are supposed to be protected. Obviously, there isn’t enough thought and care on the part of everyone to be civil or pass on civility to their children.

    A sad state of affairs, but the schools are trying to do something to help, as mandated by the State of California.

    When can we move on from all this BS?

    Comment by E T — August 31, 2009 @ 9:58 am

  3. Thank you for that, Lauren.

    When it comes to describing logic- and sanity-defying behavior, a YouTube clip truly is worth a thousand words.

    Comment by H Supporter — August 31, 2009 @ 10:41 am

  4. Have you ever been to a board meeting? Trish Spencer does this on most every issue before the board. She does nothing but ask the same questions again and again in just slightly different ways. It appears to me that it does nothing but create animosity between her, the district and her fellow board members. She doesn’t do anything, publicly at least, on the board to try and create solutions to the issues at hand. She is the one who should be recalled. Maybe this board would get something done if she would hear what she was being told instead of listening for her self going on and on and on….
    We don’t need someone who is using their board seat to play politics, we need a strong leader who really cares. Trish Spencer is not that person.

    Comment by Gary Paul — August 31, 2009 @ 7:50 pm

  5. Thank you Superintendent Vital and board members Mahon, Jensen, Tam and Mooney. Your patience and professionalism is to be commended. I am at a loss of words for my feelings about the role of Ms.Spencer in this whole thing. While I am totally against to recall, I look forward to voting the next time she comes up for re-election. That is where the voice of the majority will exercise their voice.

    Comment by Tina Koeberl — August 31, 2009 @ 8:57 pm

  6. Jeez … how did she get 12790 votes? What a clown!!!

    Click to access results.pdf

    Comment by alameda — August 31, 2009 @ 9:51 pm

  7. Sure looks to me like despite voter and parent outcry, AUSD went way overboard to cater to a single minority activist group.
    Sure seems to me the AUSD BOE failed to require AUSD to present a program that is desired by the majority of voter / parents.
    Sure seems to me that the committee putting together ‘Lesson 9’ represented only the minority activists and was not tempered with inclusion of other larger groups of stakeholders. IN FACT Sean Cahill rejected allowing any parents other than himself on that committee, and AUSD staff and the BOE were irresponsible in allowing that.

    I think AUSD was already meeting the State mandated requirements with the policy they created back in ’97. The only new requirements they had to add concerned thestudent and parental informing of protection and how to report incidents, the reporting procedure and follow up on reported incidents. See the first pages of a middle or high school day planner, given to all students for confirmation. Sadly despit Cahill committee on starting an unrequited curriculum, I still don’t see the District fulfilling the other new actual requirements of AB537!

    For me that is UN-F*ing Believable! (But maybe the GSA fact sheet is not credible?)

    The line you put in about this being “State required curricula” is a big fat lie! Maybe you are just repeating what some AUSD staffer said, but it remains a ‘big fat lie’!!

    The questions remain; “How can tax payers trust those that lie, and why should we volunteer to add a new parcel tax to support them?”

    NO MORE LIES NO MORE LIES NO MORE LIES NO MORE LIES NO MORE

    IN FACT, taken directly from the text of the bill AB 537:
    (3) This bill would state that it does not require the inclusion of any curriculum, textbook, presentation, or other material in any program or activity conducted by an educational institution or a postsecondary educational institution and would prohibit this bill from being deemed to be violated by the omission of any curriculum, textbook, presentation, or other material in any program or activity conducted by an educational institution or a postsecondary educational institution.

    IN FACT the concern of both AB 537 & AB 394 concerns the protection of all protected classes and requires STAFF TRAINING, as well as reporting..

    Here are the facts as presented by the GSA (Gay and Straight Alliance):

    What is AB 537?
    AB 537, the California Student Safety and Violence Prevention Act of 2000, changed California’s Education Code by adding actual or
    perceived sexual orientation and gender identity to the existing nondiscrimination policy. State law says that “‘gender’ means sex, and
    includes a person’s gender identity and gender related appearance and behavior whether or not stereotypically associated with the
    person’s assigned sex at birth.” The nondiscrimination policy also prohibits harassment and discrimination on the basis of sex, ethnic
    group identification, race, ancestry, national origin, religion, color, or mental or physical disability.
    What does AB 537 cover?
    AB 537 protects students and school employees against discrimination and harassment at all California public schools and any school
    receiving state funding except religious schools. Harassment is defined as “conduct based on protected status that is severe or pervasive,
    which unreasonably disrupts an individual’s educational or work environment or that creates a hostile educational or work environment.”
    The protections cover any program or activity in a school, including extracurricular activities and student clubs. This gives
    GSAs and other LGBTQ-related student clubs state protection in addition to federal protection through the Equal Access Act.
    How do you file a complaint?
    First, file a complaint with your school. The process for filing a complaint at your school can vary. Look for information on how to make
    a complaint in your student handbook or ask a teacher or an administrator. It is often the same process as filing a sexual harassment
    complaint. If your school’s harassment report form does not specifically include sexual orientation and the expanded definition of “gender,”
    consider working to change this as a goal of your activism.
    Document everything. Write down the key details of the harassment such as who, what, when, where, and witnesses. Include
    details from meetings you have with administrators. Keep a copy of all reports you file and confirmation that they were received.
    What is your school district obligated to do?
    If your school does not adequately address your complaint, you can take your complaint to your district superintendent’s office (ask for
    the designated complaint officer or compliance coordinator). Your school district must follow the state’s “Uniform Complaint
    Procedures,” which say that your school district must to do the following:
    • Have a staff member who is responsible for receiving and investigating complaints who is knowledgeable about the law.
    • Every year, notify parents, employees, students, and anyone interested of the district complaint procedures, including the
    right to appeal the school district’s decision to the California Department of Education.
    • Protect you from retaliation after you make a complaint.
    • Keep your complaint confidential as appropriate.
    • Accept complaints from any youth, adult, public agency, or organization.
    • Investigate your complaint, come up with a solution, and send you a written report no more than 60 days after they receive your
    complaint.
    What is the state Department of Education obligated to do?
    As the authority over public schools, the California Department of Education (CDE) is responsible for making sure that schools follow
    AB 537. If your school district fails to adequately resolve your complaint, the CDE is obligated to do the following:
    • If your school district does not act within 60 days of receiving your complaint or if you appeal the school district’s decision,
    the CDE is obligated to complete an investigation within 60 days, and make a decision about whether the school district has
    lived up to its responsibilities and whether it needs to do anything else.
    • Require schools to take steps to improve problems raised through investigation of complaints.
    • Request a report of the schools’ actions and keep a file of every written complaint received.
    Other options for holding your school accountable:
    • Litigation. You can sue your school district. With the help of an attorney, students can ask a judge to order the school to stop discrimination
    before it happens or continues. This is called injunctive relief. It’s cool because a judge issues an “injunction” (order) to
    your school district – and your school district has to do it immediately! You can do this while going through the complaint process.
    • Community Organizing. Organize other students, teachers, staff, parents, and community allies to form a community response to
    the problem of homophobia in your school. Think of AB 537 as a tool and use it as leverage to work to change the school climate.
    To learn more about how you can implement and enforce AB 537, check out our student organizing manual at
    http://www.ab537.org or call our office.
    AB 537 Fact Sheet
    California Student Safety and Violence Prevention Act
    http://www.ab537.org
    For more information and resources for Gay-Straight Alliances, contact GSA Network:
    Statewide Office: 160 14th Street, San Francisco, CA 94103, ph: 415.552.4229, f: 415.552.4729
    Central Valley Regional Office: 4403 E. Tulare Ave, Fresno, CA 93702, ph: 559.453.9040, f: 559.453.9060
    Southern California Regional Office: 605 W. Olympic Blvd, Suite 610, Los Angeles, CA 90015, ph:
    http://www.gsanetwork.org 213.534.7162, f: 213.553.1833

    Sure looks to me like despite voter and parent outcry, AUSD went way overboard to cater to a single minority activist group.
    Sure seems to me the AUSD BOE failed to require AUSD to present a program that is desired by the majority of voter / parents.
    Sure seems to me that the committee putting together ‘Lesson 9’ represented only the minority activists and was not tempered with inclusion of other larger groups of stakeholders. IN FACT Sean Cahill rejected allowing any parents other than himself on that committee, and staff and the BOE were irresponsible in allowing that.

    Comment by David Kirwin — September 1, 2009 @ 3:10 am

  8. DK,

    Ranting about this at 3:10 a.m.? Get some sleep, seriously.

    Comment by Get some sleep — September 1, 2009 @ 7:50 am

  9. #4 and other “special” interests

    So what difference does it make if Spencer antagonizes the other board members? They didn’t vote her in. Every time the Super answered Spencer’s appropriate question with repeated misdirected cover-ups and finally when the motion Spencer made was ultimately thrown in the waste basket, she gained status in the eyes of normal voters and Vital gained status in the eyes of a few special interests groups. Vital admits by subterfuge that Lesson 9 as constructed was a mistake and needed to be changed. Now I ask you, who holds the high ground in the eyes of the “normal” voter?

    Comment by normal voter — September 1, 2009 @ 8:37 am

  10. #9 “she gained status in the eyes of normal voters” I must not be normal then. I voted for her in the last election, but definitely wont in the next election. She is most likely a one term wonder.

    Comment by notadave — September 1, 2009 @ 9:14 am

  11. I urge all citizens to watch AUSD board meetings in person or on television. Watching Trisha Spencer in action is quite something–she asks and asks and asks. Never seeming to listen to answers. And she doesn’t seem to understand that politics is not simply about grandstanding and pissing off everyone around you. She’s probably costing the district a whole lot of money with all her bizarre demands on staff.

    Comment by Sam — September 1, 2009 @ 10:16 am

  12. Spencer absolutely wins my support as the BOE member who objectively follows the laws which govern CA Public Education.

    She also is consistently the BOE member who shows concern for all students – and protecting their rights to quality public education. Some of the other BOE members seem more concerned about their image and creating a PC fiefdom rather than directing AUSD Superintendant as how to best provide higher quality education for the students of our community which is their mission. Their willingness to kowtow to anything she wants or her staff recommends effectively invalidates their purpose on the Board.

    Comment by Public School Supporter — September 1, 2009 @ 11:08 am

  13. I do go to these board meetings in person and I have failed to see anything that she has contributed in a positive manner. Thank god I’m not a “Normal Voter”

    Comment by Gary — September 1, 2009 @ 5:25 pm

  14. Gary,

    Maybe what you feel is Spencer’s contribution in a “non-positive” manner is due to her frustration that some of the other BOE members seem less likely to listen to reason and continue to try to devalue her input because she is not on their bandwagon. That’s the way it looks to me.

    Those of us watching realize she is often the only voice of reason. I’ll bet she gets more votes next election as more people pay attention. We are neither blind nor stupid as we witness the relationship between the Board members. They are playing a foolish political hand if they think it makes them look wise to try to exclude what she is saying. I’d sooner vote the others out for not listening to reason.

    I’ve talked to real estate people in town who watched meetings to get a feel for our school district and they said they thought she was the only one up there making sense. That was one of the Kofman meetings.

    Comment by School supporter — September 1, 2009 @ 5:57 pm

  15. 13 “… I have failed to see anything that she has contributed in a positive manner.”

    Everybody seems to think Lesson 9 needs to be revised. In the clip, Spencer is the only member to attempt to walk the walk instead of talking the talk like the supe did. The rest of the board may have well been asleep.

    Comment by normal voter — September 1, 2009 @ 5:58 pm

  16. Trish Spencer is a political ally of Alaina Stewart, coordinator of anti-gay efforts conducted by the Alameda Mormon Ward. It is no surprise to see her behaving the way that she is. She has a right wing agenda (like those conducting the recall) with hopes to take over the Board. I suspect if they are successful, we won’t be arguing about protecting gay students, but instead about prayer in school and intelligent design.

    Comment by John — September 2, 2009 @ 2:58 pm

  17. At a previous master planning session Superintendent Vital succinctly laid out how charters may enhance education both organizationally and financially at some levels and she also spelled out how at the full district and elementary levels the district takes a serious financial hit on charters. Yet late in that meeting Trish Spencer chimed in asking about pursuing a discussion on charters as if Ms.Vital had never spoken. It is standard for her to make these obtuse comments and interjections, apparently based on doggedly pursuing her specific agenda to the exclusion of the actual discussion taking place around her.

    #6. a serious answer to your question on vote count is that many voters don’t know who they are voting for. While a good number of Spencer’s votes may be attributed to her loyal constituents who know her record, the high total is an enhancement of know nothing voters responding to her resume: PTA, attorney, gender. (I think a “shot in the dark vote” by people who don’t know who the candidates will likely favor a female in a BOE race.)

    It is easy to be innocently tripped up by the Brown Act as a board member, but I thought Ms. Spencer’s near violation was clumsy Brown Act 101 mistake, and I frankly expect more from an attorney on that one.

    14. “Maybe what you feel is Spencer’s contribution in a “non-positive” manner is due to her frustration that some of the other BOE members seem less likely to listen to reason and continue to try to devalue her input because she is not on their bandwagon.”

    DK, because of the Brown Act the BOE members don’t have freedom to fraternize. As to interaction at meetings I have not seen clear examples by any other members making comments aimed at devaluing Ms. Spencer’s input, though in the video her questions and comments clearly drew stunned silence from staff and BOE alike, and why not? Consensus among other BOE of which Ms. Spencer is not a part is not evidence of some conspiracy on their part to shun her, it’s just a fact that she is a minority opinion most of the time. She isolates herself.

    Comment by M.I. — September 2, 2009 @ 5:30 pm

  18. Trish Spencer is a political ally of most of the voters in Alameda, from well-heeled parents to non-English speaking parents, from religious to atheist. She is challenging, but also she’s thinking of the entire district in the broadest of terms to benefit our community’s children. That much is clear to all.

    Part of the problem with what Ms Vital has said at the “public planning meetings” is that the District can benefit from more Charter schools, but she puts tight limits on what gets discussed. AUSD’s plan is to make Chipman a Charter. Many of us question – if it will help; why stop with just one school? The too brief public meeting on Charter Schools barely scratched to surface and that was intentional.

    Because Chipman has been scoring poorly AUSD has to take serious action, and to also gain additional ‘financial aid’ by going Charter, AUSD gets both goals with one shot – More $ and a plausible plan to tell the State they are doing ‘something’ to improve the education at Chipman.
    …But AUSD is also afraid of the successes of Charter Schools – after all – what is good for educating our community’s kids, and taxpayers may not be good for the State-and-locally fed bureaucracy, and if you work for the bureaucracy and want your job to be maintained…

    Thank goodness we have someone on the BOE willing to ask questions. These are tough times and if because of Brown Act these people are not discussing information and ideas outside of these public meetings they better damned well start showing us they have enough creative intelligence to ask questions and discuss solutions. I see none of that from Board members.

    What did not amuse me at all was the systematic non-answers by the school district and the fact that other BOE members were content with ‘non-answers’. That’s bullshit bureaucratic politics at its worst. How are we-the-people supposed to get informed if the BOE members don’t require information to be made public at the meetings? They may not have inquiring minds, but trust me, those of us watching do, and we not only wonder, but are drawing conclusions about what purpose – or lack of it, is being shown by other bored members.

    So what have the major issues and contentions been for this district? –Was protecting “flex space” one of the top ones? (Flex space was explained as classrooms that are being used for other purposes such as; before or after-school day care, ESL classes, teacher break rooms, reading rooms, parent rooms, store rooms, ‘teacher conference rooms, copy rooms, prep rooms, special ed rooms, etc.)

    I was perplexed as to how the superintendant came up with this as one of the top five issues in the district. Seems to me the list was made up to control the dialogue, not to deal with the issues.(Dedicating these spaces as opposed to using them for multiple uses, means fewer students fit in the schools, thus an impediment to closing small administratively inefficient schools
    I did understand some of the other issues such as “Neighborhood Schools”; Or whether or not to increase the number of out-of-district students (currently approx 10% student population now come from off the island) – point was that those parents are usually not involved with schools, PTA’s, service, don’t pay for the advantages funded by our parcel taxes, etc, but District wants the Average Daily Attendance (ADA) monies. Obviously parcel taxes and adjusting the way schools are inequitably apportioned attendance money is an issue.

    We also have some battles to tackle such as what we expect of our schools and school district, what does ‘quality education’ mean to our district, etc.

    I hope the new web site will add archival videos of these school issues, BOE meetings, etc. (And would someone please tell them about the typo on the ‘Mission Statement”?

    Comment by School supporter — September 2, 2009 @ 10:17 pm

  19. This issue is a classic example of the strength of special interest groups/lobbyists. Stepping aside from all of that, the bottom line is that our children need to do better in academics than they are doing now, in this school district. They need to do so in a safe environment, whether they come from a protected minority class, a divorced family, a family headed by grandparents or legal guardians, from a family of same-gender parents, from a homeless family, from a military family, etc.

    So concentrate on the strengths of our community of families/students no matter what class/family structure we all come from. Go back to looking at what their immediate needs as learners in a competitive world are now.

    Stop the bickering amongst the special interest groups and spend our limited time and tax dollars on EDUCATION. If you look at the private schools in the East Bay, you just might find that they educate their students for less $/student than this district does, and they get academic results that exceed what we currently do.

    Redirect this energy to something constructive. Our future generations of publicly-educated students rely on it.

    Comment by No longer a public school supporter — September 4, 2009 @ 11:33 pm

  20. Having spent some energy investigating private schools in the East Bay, I dispute your claim that they do it for less money than AUSD, which spends less than $7000 per student. With the exception of a few Catholic elementary schools, they all charge more, usually MUCH more, double or triple is common.

    Comment by David Hart — September 5, 2009 @ 7:54 am

  21. Heavens — I almost choked on my coffee when I read #19.

    Beacon Day School is $16,800/year; Head Royce is $20,100/year; Redwood Day is $19,000 per year; the SF Waldorf School is $17,400; the Bentley School is $20,500. (These are all tuitions for the elementary grades, btw.)

    I have friends who send their children to these schools and the programs do indeed sound fantastic, but their tuitions are hardly “less than $7000/student.”

    Moreover, these schools do not focus only on academics. Most of them have a strong focus on social-emotional development components, as well. That’s part of what makes them attractive.

    Finally, how students perform academically depends a lot on what kinds of families they come from. I.e., students from well-educated, middle- or upper-class families (the kind that can afford to send their kids to private schools, for instance) often score higher on standardized tests than those from lower-income, less well-educated families. It has to do with parental expectations, the level of support available at home, and the number of other stressors on the child — among other factors. So when you compare the “academic results” of public and private schools, the playing field isn’t level.

    Here’s where I do agree with you: The bickering needs to stop so we can move forward and start dealing constructively with more pressing matters. The district has taken into account the complaints of those who oppose Lesson 9 and is taking positive steps to redress the problems. Let’s move on.

    Comment by Susan Davis — September 5, 2009 @ 9:16 am

  22. And one more thought: Some studies now show that helping children develop emotional and social intelligence actually helps them improve their “academic results.”

    I would assert that when children learn not to bully even those their religion deems morally unacceptable, they develop emotional and social intelligence — because that kind of restraint rests on children being able to first monitor their own feelings and then act in a socially skillful way.

    Comment by Susan Davis — September 5, 2009 @ 9:44 am

  23. So, Spencer’s defeated proposal would have all protected people explicitly included in the existing curricula, curricula that she asked to be suspended, AND when all protected people are included in the curricula, then it could be taught, but parents would be able to “opt out” their children from lessons about any protected groups?

    A kind of separate, but equal, set of classrooms within each school?

    A southern California district tried something like this in 2000. If 10 or more parents “opted” their kids out, separate classrooms and lessons were required.

    Are there three, or six, or nine, or ten protected classes of people?

    With “opt in” and “opt out” separate (but “equal”) classrooms and separate (but “equal”) lessons, how much time and money will be required to accommodate them all?

    Looks like segregation to me – not for each school, but segregated classrooms within each school – with school board approval.

    Parcel tax anyone?

    Comment by LD — September 5, 2009 @ 9:59 am

  24. “I would assert that when children learn not to bully even those their religion deems morally unacceptable…”

    Is there any data that says bullying on religious grounds is prevalent? It seems to me bullying is a product of not being taught social skills at home, or being abused yourself, rather than any particular ideology or religion.

    Comment by AD — September 5, 2009 @ 10:17 am

  25. I would assert that bullying is a genetic trait that can only be extirpated from the human form by recombinant DNA modification.

    Comment by Jack Richard — September 5, 2009 @ 10:35 am

  26. Kids from religious backgrounds typically avoid situations they are not comfortable with. Attitudes against children perceived as different are mostly social, not religious.

    This issue has become focused on religion only because it stepped on the toes of people of a certain religious conviction, and brought out families who would have never asked for the spotlight otherwise. (My own issue with the curriculum is not religious, it’s about forcing me to discuss things I don’t think my child is ready to discuss at the time the district thinks he is). What could the district have done differently to avoid this?

    Comment by AD — September 5, 2009 @ 10:37 am

  27. #24,

    A number of parents who oppose Lesson 9 do so on the grounds that they (or their religion) see homosexuality as immoral.

    What I’m saying is that teaching children not to bully even people who they (or their religion) believe are immoral (e.g., homosexuals) contributes to their emotional and social intelligence.

    As such, these kinds of programs don’t detract from “academic results”; they may actually enhance them.

    I tend to think that boosting children’s emotional and social development is important to far more than their test scores, but that’s another topic entirely.

    Comment by Susan Davis — September 5, 2009 @ 10:39 am

  28. I agree with Susan Davis – let’s emphasize emotional intelligence. It is applicable across all social/religious/sexual orientation/etc. groups.

    And perhaps #19 commenter was referring to all the extra money the district is spending on attorney fees to go back and forth on Measure H, and now to defend Lesson 9.

    Have we looked at that total number in terms of $/student to see what fiscal impact that has had? Could that money have been spent on educating the students so we are preparing them to compete with their peers who are lucky enough to go to Head Royce, College Prep, Waldorf, Julia Morgan, etc.? Keep in mind that our students will be competing with this privileged group as they are vying for university spots and employment in the future.

    Comment by Fan of emotional intelligence — September 5, 2009 @ 10:42 am

  29. I disagree with Susan Davis – let’s not emphasize emotional intelligence, let’s emphasize quality education. As for “emotional intelligence” – just make it one aspect of public school education here in Alameda – after we have a community-wide acceptance of what it means and includes; especially if our next parcel tax will fund it. For now let’s get the state test scores up. Perhaps “emotional intelligence” can be applicable across all social/religious/sexual orientation/etc. groups but Lesson 9 will not be the vehicle to get us there. Even in K-5 “emotional intelligence” is being addressed now without explicitly dealing with LGBT issues. We have great teachers – we should have let them continue to use the ‘open structure’ of the Caring School Curriculum which EXPLICITLY addressed NO special classes of people. –Didn’t you hear BOE member Spencer helping Superintendant Vital make that explicitly clear?

    Our schools should focus on delivering quality education of the mainstream subjects. If the community is determined to include ‘socialization’, we need to be careful that special interest groups do not steer public education away from the main steam requirements. To counter mainstream as this K-5 LGBT curriculum has done – and to gear a new curriculum to specifically cater to a special interest group, and prevent others with varied opinions from having a say, is counter productive to the overall goodwill of our district’s parents, is hurtful to the future hopes of a parcel tax, and shows the poor judgment of ‘the deciders’ in their unwillingness to compromise or steer away from the coming storm.

    My support for the recall has more to do with the Boards decision than the curriculum itself, but even AUSD has already recognized the need to change the curriculum before the lesson has ever been to a classroom. Doesn’t that say a lot about who is responsibly steering the District from the storm? – Since the BOE failed, AUSD Admin is now trying to bail water.

    I also agree with AD #26. Discussing sexuality to prepubescent children is unnecessary, and clearly opposed by far more people necessary to defeat any additional parcel tax.

    It has so angered so many, the BOE had to use Kofman – the biggest room in the city for several meetings, yet still everyone who wanted to speak did not get the chance to…

    It has angered so many and to such a degree that there is now a recall of the BOE majority in the works.

    Do you realize that it was the decision of the BOE that created the problem?
    Do you realize before the 1st time the lesson is to be taught AUSD has formally said they will replace the program?

    Why not just end the nonsense and approve the curtailment of the lesson until a better or more suitable one is established. Put a committee together that is more representative of our community. Not just more people, we need a representative spread of the opinions and expectations of the community, framed in an acceptable manner.

    I support teaching sensitivity to LGBT issues, but NOT explicit lessons concerning gender/sexuality in K-5.

    If kids are teasing others for ANY reason (and at any grade), we already have BOE Policy forbidding it, and teachers, staff and volunteers need to be trained to stop it when they see it happen. Parents and guardians of those ‘harassing bullies’ need to be informed, and the behavior needs to be addressed.

    The new laws does not require any curriculum, it requires the district to inform students parents/guardians what behavior is not allowed and how to file complaints if bullying or harassment occurs unchecked by the district. The new law goes on to require the District to maintain record of those complaints and a record of how it was handled.

    -Is the District fulfilling this duty?

    If it is, drop lesson 9 – that will end the recall. Then we can focus on teaching all our kids.

    Comment by Reasonable Voice — September 5, 2009 @ 9:21 pm

  30. Reasonalbe Voice wrote: “I support teaching sensitivity to LGBT issues, but NOT explicit lessons concerning gender/sexuality in K-5”

    How exactly are you proposing to “teach sensitivity to LGBT issues” without acknowledging the existence of gay people????

    The whole objection to this very mild program is that it acknowledges that some kids have two parents of the same sex or might by gay themselves, and discourages their fellow students from bullying them on that basis.

    Pretending that people don’t exist is discrimination. All those schoolbooks that didn’t have one black kid in them were a form of discrimination. All those years that the only dolls you could buy for your kid were white was discrimination. This continued insistence that the AUSD not acknowledge and respect gay students or parents in the discrict is discrimination.

    Comment by John — September 5, 2009 @ 11:23 pm

  31. John you are wrong!!

    No one I spoke to at meetings before or after the BOE vote even considered not allowing the acknowledgement of gay and lesbian parents in our community. It is a question of how to do that at different ages.

    Gawd – nobody is pretending LGBT don’t exist!! Jeez, get a grip and try to listen to what being said by those opposed to the curriculum instead of making up fiction you want to argue against!

    In other words…Get Real man!

    Comment by Reasonable Voice — September 6, 2009 @ 9:35 am

  32. I do not believe the state should be in the business of teaching “sensibility”. Sensibility towards anything should be individually gained or diminished through ones own mental processes. That’s not to say public schools shouldn’t teach that there are issues within certain population groups within the state. There are at least two sides to every issue and students should, at the appropriate age, should be made aware of these issues.

    Teaching sensibility towards LGBT issues or any other issue particularly at a very young age, is an attempt to sway individual thought processes towards views of the state. Bullying on the other hand can and should be dealt with immediately on the playground or anywhere else.

    Comment by Jack Richard — September 6, 2009 @ 10:39 am

  33. Exactly John. Let’s be sure that we do not leave out the sperm donors that make these families possible.

    Comment by Grumpus — September 6, 2009 @ 11:43 am

  34. John,

    You say “The whole objection to this very mild program is that it acknowledges that some kids have two parents of the same sex or might by gay themselves”

    Oh no – are you now saying this program is needed to protect all those gay kindergardeners too?

    Exactly why should we be trying to influence or even discuss with those kids at that age that they might be gay?

    Comment by Twisted logigic of gay activists — September 6, 2009 @ 12:36 pm

  35. 34 I think your logic here is twisted. It’s not about identifying kids at age 5 as gay and talking to them about it. The issue is more about knowing that there are and always have been kids who when they reach the age of sexuality will be gay. It’s never too early not to alienate someone or attack their self esteem, especially when they are likely candidates (without prodding) to be among what ends up being an underclass of people who are discriminated against. All children need to feel accepted. This is not aboput recruiting politically correct soldiers for some supposed liberal agenda, it’s about compassion and acceptance.

    Comment by M.I. — September 6, 2009 @ 2:12 pm

  36. Twisted logic and Reasonable voice are avoiding the issue. What is your objection to kids in Kindergarten or 1st grade knowing that some of their classmates may have two parents of the same sex and they are not to tease them?

    As towards the kids being gay, young children (yes, even as young as Kindergarten through 3rd grade) are teased for any behavior that is viewed as different from the average boy or girl. I defy you to find too many 3rd and 4th graders who haven’t heard gay, fag or dyke in school during those first few years. It is directed at these kids who may or may not be gay when they get older, but in any case, it needs to be stopped.

    I live in reality. I am a parent. I have seen all of these things go on. I am not living on some other planet or in some other city.

    Also, the extreme anti-gay feelings that have been stirred up by this controversy are good for this city. Bringing the bigotry out in the open and into the light of day is useful. I am also very amused to hear the bigots proclaim again and again that they aren’t anti-gay. At least they know enough to be at least a little embarrassed by the positions they take. It’s a start.

    Comment by John — September 6, 2009 @ 2:52 pm

  37. John, you need to brush up on your biology.

    Comment by Grumpus — September 6, 2009 @ 3:09 pm

  38. Have those of you who hold out the specter of discussions about “gay kindergartners” even looked at the curriculum. Let’s see, the K curriculum is about accepting a new kid in class. The first grade curriculum is about acknowledging the fact — an it is a fact — that families come in all sorts of configurations. Some kids live with grandma! Some kids live with their dad and stepmom! The point of the lesson is that just because a family doesn’t look like the Cleavers, it’s OK! How very shocking! How very controversial! Truly twisted indeed!

    Comment by Twisted indeed — September 6, 2009 @ 3:34 pm

  39. Grumpus,

    I have a degree in Biochemistry from Berkeley, but since my post was about behavior, I am not sure what yuor point is.

    Comment by John — September 6, 2009 @ 4:21 pm

  40. #36 & #38 Kids already know that others in their class have two moms or two dads – so what?

    Any taunting done to any kid for any reason on school grounds or during school events needs to be addressed. That is not only already AUSD BOE Polict, it is State law. PERIOD> No curriculum needed. I thought we had teachers who could handle this. I thought volunteers were trained – we don’t need to go any farther, especially if it will blow up out of proportion and ruin our schools because of distrust and failed parcel taxes.

    Don’t you see that?

    Comment by GetaGrip — September 6, 2009 @ 10:32 pm

  41. Get a Grip,

    Since you feel that the kids already know that some of their classmates have two parents of the same sex, what exactly is your objection to the schools telling kids explicitly that they cannot tease or bully kids on this basis?

    Also, teachers asked for help addressing this issue.

    Comment by John — September 7, 2009 @ 9:36 am

  42. AUSD should have taught the teachers and volunteers how to deal with bullies. Give the teachers what they need – they certainly do not need this curriculum, this is not what they were asking for.

    Comment by David — September 18, 2009 @ 12:41 am

  43. David wrote: “Give the teachers what they need”

    This controversy has shown teachers clearly what they need. They need the support of the school board. Given the unbelievably vitriolic reaction of some in our community to protecting these kids, it is clear why teachers wanted a program like this.

    Teachers want to know that they are going to be backed up when they address this sort of behavior, rather than being left to twist in the wind when right wing parents attack them for protecting vulnerable kids. The school board did the right thing by standing by the teachers, taking the heat for this and allowing our teachers to protect some of the most vulnerable kids in the school district.

    Comment by John — September 18, 2009 @ 9:54 am


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