Sunday, January 19, 2020

Whence sex ed in Worcester?

The article from Scott O'Connell (he did get rather a lot to write about on Thursday) covers the gist of it, but I see that social media has been rather...heated, so I thought it might be useful to sort out a few interconnected things here.
You can't, of course, separate this term's discussion of sex ed from last term's discussion of sex ed, particularly in the context of what Bill Shaner wrote in two articles for Worcester Magazine, one last February and one last April, and which received statewide attention.
At the end of all of that, the vote of the Committee had been to wait on the state. No doubt that was punting, but the state has legitimately been updating the state health standards--which date, incidentally, from the 90's, which is also a problem--as was discussed at the Board of Education in June. However, that report had the new standards out for public comment at the end of last year...and they're not. In fact, the Board hasn't received an update since then.
Thus the Mayor's reaction to their lack of action on Thursday.
I have seen it suggested that the Committee was taking action on Thursday due to the Senate vote in favor of sex ed earlier on Thursday. That doesn't line up.
First, the bill that's being considered only requires "medically accurate and age-appropriate" IF a district offers it at all...which isn't required.
Second, the Senate has taken action on this before:
The legislation now goes to the House, where it has died without a vote each of the past two sessions following Senate approval. House Speaker Robert DeLeo has not committed to taking it up.
This isn't something that is being accelerated by the state, let's say.

It's an authority of the School Committee, incidentally, to review and approve curriculum, so the process here isn't different or somehow set apart. That's done in concert with and generally by recommendation of the professionals involved.

It's in the subcommittee that does curriculum, which is Teaching, Learning, and Student Supports. That's chaired by Ms. McCullough (she finished last year's term after Brian O'Connell's death) and also has Jack Foley and John Monfredo. They do have a meeting scheduled for Wednesday, January 29 at 4:30 (not 4 as on the website), but I do not know that this will be taken up; I'll post once I see an agenda. UPDATE: Ms. McCullough says that meeting will be taking up items from the prior term; she plans a February meeting on this topic.

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