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Keep focus on children

Your Turn
2010-09-26T00:25:00Z Keep focus on childrenBy SUSAN ANDERSON Helena Independent Record
September 26, 2010 12:25 am  • 

I am dismayed at the Montana tea party’s effort to insert itself into our community discussion of how to best provide our children’s health and sexuality education. I firmly believe that the concerned parents of our community are working for the best interests of their children. I also firmly believe that the Helena School District trustees and administrators have this same goal and intention. For the Montana tea party to pretend that our children’s education should be “in our (their) hands” is appalling.

As parents and a community we have an important opportunity to come together and participate in a critical decision in the lives of our children. This is our responsibility. Political parties have no legitimate claim. My prayer is that we come together to do this important work, rather than allow ourselves to be inflamed and polarized by those who would sacrifice the welfare of our children in order to advance their own political agenda.

Yes, there were glaring errors in the district’s first draft of this curriculum. There was much in the district’s first draft which I applaud. If we truly are a community that cares deeply for our children, we must address the escalating trends of teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, and the disturbing trends of childhood obesity and related health disorders. As a protective parent of two young children, I could not have supported the first draft. Yet it is moving toward a better document that I can support.

Parents, please stop to consider the trust our school district has earned through the years of serving our children. It is not a perfect organization, but on the whole it serves our children well. Its imperfections are the opportunities for us to come forward and participate in improvement. Our schools are at their best when we all participate. Come to the meetings on this health curriculum. Come with an open mind and with the expectation that you will be heard and your opinion will be respected.

One of the mistakes the school administrators made was not anticipating the level of community concern and participation when the health curriculum draft was first introduced. They were not prepared to hear everyone who wanted to speak, let alone seat them. It is good to hold them accountable for this error, and also good to give them opportunity to fix it. They did better at the last meeting, and there is opportunity to submit your thoughts in writing if time does not allow for everyone to speak at future meetings.

But don’t stop there. Our schools need our daily support. Volunteer in your child’s or grandchild’s classroom. Your child’s teacher will be able to give more quality individual attention to all the children when you provide this level of support. And you can experience the joy of sharing yourself with these kids.

Participate in your school’s parent council. You will gain a better understanding of the school’s strengths and weaknesses. You will have direct opportunity to offer ideas for improvement. And you will be developing relationships with your child’s teacher, principal and school community. This is where trust is built. The better we know each other, the more effectively we can solve our differences. All our children and schools will benefit from a higher level of parent and community involvement.

I am excited to imagine the positive benefits our kids will realize if our community can work together to decide how we want to address the important concerns this health curriculum raises. Imagine if we all should stay engaged at this level of participating in our children’s education. Helena is a wonderful place to raise children. Your continued positive participation in our schools will make it even better.

Please don’t be swayed by the radical politicians who would coopt and polarize our discussion in an effort to gain attention or credibility for their own political ends. They want to subvert our discussion about our children’s needs into a vehicle to grab national attention and further their own political agenda. The children of our community are the ones they would sacrifice toward this end.

I would add only that the Helena School District’s Board of Trustees is the very same board that adopted a groundbreaking consensus style of negotiating with our teacher’s union few years back. They stepped out of a traditionally adversarial relationship, instead building relationships and trust, and benefiting our children, teachers and schools. Let’s expect no less of them this time around. And expect no less of ourselves. At the risk of sounding too much like John Lennon … imagine (and do it!).

Susan Anderson is a parent of two children at Smith Elementary. She is also a clinical social worker and play therapist.

Copyright 2015 Helena Independent Record. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(8) Comments

  1. The Porter
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    The Porter - October 11, 2010 11:21 am
    A poster here said: "We have people on these blogs who cannot seem to form complete sentences or spell simple words "..."its choose not chooze darlin) preaching the three R's."
    Interesting! Many posters here are products of this district and its already POOR curriculm that doens't put high priority on reading, writing, spelling or math. Can't expect they'll be allowed to teach this new sex ed worth a hang either.

    And who is accountable for the shortcomings of graduates of this past decade? The Superindent! 5.03 Curriculum Development

    The superintendent is directed to develop instructional programs that will enable each student to learn at his/her best rate. The instructional program shall strive to provide for:

    1. Placement of a student at his/her instructional level.
    2. Learning materials and methods of instruction considered to be most appropriate to the student’s learning style.
    3. Assessment to determine if the desired student outcomes have been achieved.

    The superintendent gets an "F" for pushing a failing curriculum on our students and teaching staff!

    It's time we put someone else in office, someone 'local' who has the motivation to make our district scores compete nationally and teach our kids to be great. Someone like high school mathematics teacher 'Jaime Escalante', who was determined to change the system and challenge the students to a higher level of achievement! Not someone who cares more about his 'raises, bonuses and fringe benefits', than how far down the national grade scale our students are graduating!
  2. WalleyeHunter
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    WalleyeHunter - October 09, 2010 1:47 pm
    Ah yes, the Tea Party - Those who know the least know it the LOUDEST!
  3. Curmudgeon
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    Curmudgeon - September 29, 2010 11:45 am
    THE BIG L, "...thank the Tea Party"?

    I thank that bunch of whiners for NOTHING.
  4. 4HelenaKids
    Report Abuse
    4HelenaKids - September 28, 2010 3:20 pm
    How much confusion shall we teach kids these days?
    We say NO means NO, about sex and drugs and alchohol.
    But they watch and listen and learn when Helena's parents say NO to this curriculum, which results in those people being verbally assaulted for their opinions, and steamrolled over by the board.
    The end result is that when parents say NO to the sexually heated curriclum, and the board goes ahead with it anyway, then WHO is really Teaching the kids, that NO doesn't mean NO, if the other guy wants his way anyway?
    We can't stop bullying in schools, because its' done right here, and it is not seriously addressed in this community or in the schools.
    Especially when parents & citizens with a differing opinion beign against this sex education course, are abused by what amounts to mere bulling by people who apparently have nothing better to do that pick a fight, encourage abuse, call names and say how dumb, stupid, uneducated and ignorant others are, when they don't have the same opinion.
    Bad little kids get spankings. Bad adults get away with it.
    When you get someone to come around to your way of unerstanding by respectfully reasoning with them, you have done well. When you verbally assault them, because you have no better argument, then you are just abusive.
    The board's argument FOR this course, in no greater than the parent's argument against it. No one is smarter,(diploma or not) about their own children, than parents themselves.
    This action was taken out of order & quite inappropriately for those negatively affected by it. Stop the bullying. JUST TABLE IT!
  5. gun961960
    Report Abuse
    gun961960 - September 28, 2010 12:21 pm
    Oh we know they are real people Big L. Listen people we have overweight people mad that we are teaching nutrition. We have a woman who is on her 3rd husband and had her last baby with her last husband while she was inconveniently still married to her 2nd husband preaching to us about family values. We have people on these blogs who cannot seem to form complete sentences or spell simple words (ie, Terry Bush its choose not chooze darlin) preaching the three R's. Are these the people we want to consult about our childrens school curriculum? Or do we want to trust the people who have a formal college education on the subject matter at hand like teachers, doctors, nurses. Just because you are parents doesn't mean you necessarily know what is best for your kids or mine for that matter. How do I know?? I have been reading these blogs for 4 months now and the evidence is overwhelming.
  6. blueeyes
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    blueeyes - September 28, 2010 10:17 am
    Great editorial Susan, finally a voice of reason in the mist of unreasonableness.
  7. Terry Busch
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    Terry Busch - September 27, 2010 4:13 pm
    So happy to have participated in the Sept. 18th local rally supporting the rights of Parents to chooze and KNOW what is being taught to their children!

    Watch and learn the truth about what the local progressives and the MSM do not want you to hear!
  8. The Big L
    Report Abuse
    The Big L - September 26, 2010 9:43 am
    Maybe you could thank the Tea Party (which are real people in this community as well) for making sure that those "glaring errors in the first draft" was even addressed.

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