Friday, January 19, 2007

The Examiner Gets It Really, Really Wrong

I'm moving this up out of the comments section. A little while ago, "digger" posted a comment that said:
CRC posts on their website an Examiner story that says students can't graduate if they opt out of the Orientation lessons in Family Life. That can't be true, can it?

Well, you follow the links, and you end up at this Examiner article:
Montgomery County - Although Montgomery County school officials have been making controversial new teachings on sexual orientation seem as if they’re optional, the reality is that all 10th-graders must take the class in question in order to graduate, officials said.

Schools chief public information officer Brian Edwards explained to The Examiner that the 18-week health course — which includes two hotly contested lessons mentioning transsexuality and bisexuality within a three-week unit on family life — is required.

Administrators have emphasized during meetings leading up to the approval of the new sex-ed curriculum that the lessons are “opt-in” — meaning parents must sign a waiver indicating it’s all right for their children to enroll.

Officials have stressed that it’s more of a permission-based process than “opt-out,” in which the student is in the class unless specifically requested not to be by a parent.

But Edwards clarified that, more precisely — with regard to the sex-ed-included class — students can’t just pick and choose which parts of the course to study. So, essentially it’s an all-or-nothing mentality.

“If you choose to opt out of a lesson,” he said, using one of the two sexual orientation ones as examples, “you opt out of the whole course.”

And opting out of a required course, he said, means not graduating.

That notion makes the issue of the debated sex-ed curriculum important to all Montgomery County families with children in the district, curriculum opponents are saying, because they will be confronted with the teachings and expected to make a choice.

John Garza, an attorney representing Citizens for a Responsible Curriculum, which sued Montgomery County Schools two years ago over sexual education teachings, said he feels that officials have not made this point clear enough and is hoping to educate parents on the reality.

Students required to take controversial sex-ed class

Well, you coulda knocked me down with a feather.

Wouldn't that be something, if you were given the option of having your child not take the class, and then they just couldn't graduate?

Hey, I gotta tell you, there's a picture of a cute bunch of schoolkids, maybe kindergarten or first grade. Underneath it, it says:
Students in Montgomery County Public Schools (seen here with MCPS' Superintendent Tiffany Anderson) will be confronted with controversial sex ed curriculum in their classroom and will be expected to make a choice when they reach 10th grade, say county officials.

--"Make a choice?" About what?

Oh, and then I figure out something. The MCPS Superintendent is Jerry Weast, not Tiffany Anderson. Tiffany Anderson is Superintendent in Montgomery County, Virginia.

So is the rest of this stuff about ... Virginia? Well, no, that can't be, because they quote Brian Edwards, who's our guy, here in Maryland. And the rest of this, the CRC, Garza, the lawsuit, that's us.

I've had the requirement angle explained to me a few times before, but I admit I don't remember all the details. I sent a note to a guy I know in the school district, but never heard back.

David Fishback had better luck. He posted a comment after digger's, that said:
I spoke with Brian Porter's office, and was informed that he has asked the Examiner to publish a correction.

[editorial note: as noted in the comments, he actually talked to Brian Edwards' office. Edwards is Director of public information for MCPS. Porter is chief of staff.]

David, you know, was the chair of the previous citizens advisory committee, that worked on the last curriculum, the one that ended up getting thrown out after the lawsuit. He also pasted in his comment a letter to the Examiner, which I think sums it up pretty well.
January 19, 2007

TO: Dana Levitz
The Examiner

FROM: David S. Fishback
Member, Board of Directors, Metro DC Chapter of Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbian and Gays (PFLAG)
Former Chair, Citizens Advisory Committee on Family Life and Human Development to the Montgomery County Board of Education

I just read your January 16, 2007 article on the health education curriculum in Montgomery County, entitled "Students required to take controversial sex-ed class." (pasted below).

Contrary to the headline and the text of that article, no student is required to take the lessons on sexual orientation or condom use. Rather, as MCPS has made crystal clear, students may only take those units of the health education curriculum if given permission by their parents/guardians, and those who do not take those units receive instruction in other health-related matters -- and that instruction satisfies the state health requirement for graduation. This is plainly presented at p. 4 of Superintendent Weast's January 9, 2007, report to the Board of Education, which I have attached for your convenience. Your article clearly must have taken statements by MCPS Public Affairs Director Brian Edwards grossly out of context.

I would strongly advise that you not take anything presented on this issue by the groups connected to James Dobson and Jerry Falwell at face value. Those groups have misrepresented the facts in the past, and apparently continue to do so.

In any event, it is essential that the Examiner apologize to Mr. Edwards and publish a correction to this egregious error. Reports that generate heat, but not light, do a great disservice to our community.

cc: Brian Edwards
Mongtomery County Board of Education

I think that clears it up. The Examiner has some work to do. I don't have any idea how they got it so wrong.


Anonymous David S. Fishback said...

I apologize for a factual error in what I posted. I spoke with the office of Brian Edwards (the Public Affairs Director), who was quoted in the Examiner article, not the office of Brian Porter (who is Superintendent Weast's Chief of Staff).

The media's errors should be so small.

January 19, 2007 5:18 PM  
Blogger Dana Beyer, M.D. said...

I'm glad this happened. This makes it very clear how the CRC and PFOX resort to lying whenever it suits their purposes. They have no firm ground upon which to make their case, so they resort to lies and innuendoes. It is truly pathetic.

At least their representatives on the CAC contributed their positions with dignity and respect on most occasions. Now it seems anything goes.

January 19, 2007 5:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

anything goes

January 20, 2007 8:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, anything goes and the ends justify the means for those on the homophobic fringe. The suers don't care if they have to pull the wool over journalists' or jurists' eyes to get the outcome they seek.


January 20, 2007 2:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Yes, anything goes"

I was actually drawing a wry contrast betwixt gay music man Cole Porter and TTF mentality.

January 20, 2007 3:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon, I'm sorry, but "wryness" is not a characteristic that one can attribute to oneself. It must be attributed by others.

And it wasn't.

January 20, 2007 4:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Unfortunately that is how it is written in the Montgomery county school course selection book weather on purpose and since this is supposed to be error free it must have been done on purpose.

January 21, 2007 8:40 PM  
Blogger digger said...

Isn't there a commandment about lying?

I can believe the Examiner just got this wrong. I can't believe that CRC and John Garza were honestly mistaken.

Can you comment Theresa?


January 23, 2007 1:41 PM  
Anonymous <a href="">Phentermine</a> said...

Nice design of blog.

August 13, 2007 3:38 PM  

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