Advocates for "multiple measures" say that learning is too complex to be judged by annual tests and argue that spontaneity and creativity in classrooms are being lost to test preparation and drills.On the other hand:
"Proponents of multiple measures say it will give a richer, fuller view of a school, but this isn't about a rich view of a school. It's about failures in fundamental gate-keeping subject areas."To see what your School Board said about the issue, see the resolution passed this fall.
Next, in the Loudoun Section, is a piece on next month's vote to get seatbelts on all new school buses. Sugarland Representative Joe Guzman has pushed this issue for years but finally got traction this fall when the US Department of Transportation completed a study and issued new guidelines for the use of seatbelts on buses. There was also an interesting column by the Post's Warren Brown on the subject in November, and I wrote my own piece on School Bus Seat Belts back in August. The School Board will vote on the issue in January, so if you have a strong opinion about the subject, now is the time to make it known.
On the ever-controversial subject of sex education, the Post reports today that Abstinence Programs Face Rejection in states across the country. It does reference Governor Kaine's cuts in his proposed budget, a story I commented on back in November making the same point that is in the opening lines of the story:
The number of states refusing federal money for "abstinence-only" sex education programs jumped sharply in the past year as evidence mounted that the approach is ineffective.The most interesting aspect of this trend is that these states aren't just opting for more comprehensive sex education, or cutting sex education from their curriculums. They are effectively saying "you couldn't pay me to teach this stuff." Some folks will say that the liberal educational establishment actually wants kids to go out and have lots of sex. This just isn't true. I'll say it again and again: Studies show that just telling kids to be abstinent isn't the best way to actually get them to be abstinent. Further, it makes them more vulnerable to pregnancy, disease, rape, abuse and other complications of sex if they do not choose abstinence or are assaulted. This is a very inconvenient fact because these same conservative critics of public schools are often the ones decrying educational programs that haven't been proven effective.
"Why would we spend tax dollars on something that doesn't work?" asked Ned Calonge of the Colorado Department of Health and Environment. "That doesn't make sense to me. Philosophically, I am opposed to spending government dollars on something that's ineffective. That's just irresponsible."Note that the quote is from Colorado... hardly a bastion of liberalism. Ohio is, interestingly, trying to have it both ways...
"The governor supports abstinence education," Keith Daily, a spokesman for Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland (D). "What he does not support is abstinence- only education. We are asking to put the money toward abstinence in the context of a comprehensive age-appropriate curriculum."Of course, while pro-abstinence-education groups say of their programs: "They are holistic. They include relationship-building skills and medically accurate discussions of sexually transmitted diseases and contraception," Ohio has made itself ineligible for the funds by taking this approach, showing that "abstinence plus" just ain't so. The relationship building skills are focused entirely on maintaining virginity and the medically accurate information is entirely about scaring these kids. Other medically accurate information is not included in these programs.
Another way to think of it is that just as with science and civics, we're teaching children not just knowledge that they need now, but knowledge they need for a lifetime. By focusing on Abstinence education we do nothing to prepare them for the lives they will actually lead, in which most of them will be normal people who will have sex lives just as surely as they will have careers and families. We don't send them into the workforce without a clue, why would we send them into their bedrooms that way?
Finally in my list, on Friday the Post reported on the revenue shortfalls faced by the new Board of Supervisors, and tries to portray the issue as a point of contention between our two boards. I would comment that since the School Board hasn't even yet voted on the budget, it is premature to suggest that we're bickering with the Supervisors over it. We all understand that this is going to be a tough year, and we're all going to do our best to work out the best possible budget for the kids and the county.