Has Chicago solved all of its other educational issues? We’ll get back to that in a moment, but that must be what the Chicago Public School District believes. Starting this year, kindergarten classes must carve out 30 minutes a month for sex-education classes, and the local CBS affiliate reports that parents aren’t exactly thrilled:
CPS emphasizes that the sex-ed effort is aimed at protecting children from abuse:
CPS insists the curriculum will use language children understand and focus on topics like bullying, correct names for external body parts and the difference between appropriate and inappropriate touching.
“As you identify body parts, you talk about should you be touched here or not.,” said Stephanie Whyte, the CPS Chief Health Officer. “And if someone touches you, and it’s uncomfortable, you should tell a trusted adult.”
“I’m OK with it,” said parent Ayesha Ahmad. “I’d like to believe it’s not necessary, but I think our culture dictates you can’t start early enough.”
But that’s not quite all that will be taught in these classes. Besides anatomically-correct nomenclature and a heads-up on identifying abuse, kindergarteners will also get taught the prevailing values of the school system about family structures:
Students will also take a look at the different family structures that exist in today’s society.
“Whether that means there’s two moms at home, everyone’s home life is different, and we introduce the fact that we all have a diverse background, “ said Whyte
That’s a lesson some conservative organizations oppose.
This brings up at least two big issue. First, children of this age aren’t going to have the sophistication to process this kind of instruction and compare it to the value systems which families use in their own homes. That’s the kind of issue that mothers and fathers should address with their children when they reach the appropriate age, not for schools to dictate as soon as they get kids in their clutches. Furthermore, when parents conflict with the teachers on this point, that will undermine the authority and credibility of the teachers, at the most formative age possible. There simply isn’t a need to address this at the kindergarten stage.
Second, this shows why public schools are failing to educate students, especially in Chicago. Just this year, after CPS aligned its standardized tests to the actual outcomes of grade-level reading and arithmetic, Chicago parents learned that only 52.5% of students between the 3rd and 8th grades could pass that test:
The number of Chicago Public Schools students that met state standards on the Illinois Standards Achievement Test plummeted this year because officials raised the bar for what it takes to pass.
Only 52.5 percent of 3rd through 8thgraders met or exceeded reading and math standards — nearly a 22 point drop from last year. But officials said the new test scores are a more accurate portrait of the performance of the city’s public school students and noted that 65 percent of schools actually showed progress.
Since the state decided in January to raise the cutoff scores for the Illinois Standards Achievement Test to get schools ready for the more rigorous Common Core curriculum, districts have been warning parents not to be shocked by the expected drop in test scores. Chicago is the first district in Illinois to release its scores, showing the steepness of that drop. The Illinois State Board of Education is expected to release statewide test data in October.
At CPS, the number of students meeting or exceeding state standards went down from 74.2 percent last year to 52.5 percent this year.
CPS told parents not to worry, because it didn’t mean that their children were performing any worse than they had been before, but just that they’d raised the testing bar to … expectations of grade-level performance. That’s more of an indictment of the tests CPS used in the past, and its consistent level of incompetence. And this new effort is a good example of why only half of CPS students can perform at grade level — because school districts are more concerned with social norming than they are with actually educating children.
Schools should focus on education. Value formation is best left to the parents.