Priority: Parents or special interests?

2010-09-20T00:00:00Z Priority: Parents or special interests?By SHARON NASON, Your Turn Helena Independent Record
September 20, 2010 12:00 am  • 

There has been significant controversy over the proposed health enhancement curriculum for the Helena School District. It seems that most of the controversy focuses on the human sexuality portion.

I recently learned curriculum information was presented by the Montana Partnership for Sex Education to members of the ACLU of Montana, Montana Human Rights Network and NARAL (National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League) Pro-Choice Montana Foundation in a meeting one full week before it was formally presented to the board of trustees and public. Preprinted postcards complete with talking points supporting the document were available for attendees to sign and submit to the board. Dr. Messinger, the curriculum administrator, Lewis and Clark County health officials and student representatives from the school board were present to answer questions.

That same week two parents, one of whom clearly stated the request was to disseminate info to her PTO, asked for curriculum information. Both requests were denied and they were told the draft would not be released until it was formally presented to the board the following week, at which time they could access the curriculum on the district’s website.

One of those denials was sent via e-mail just 45 minutes before the above mentioned meeting with special interest groups.

I find it extremely troubling that parents, the primary educators of our children, were not given the first opportunity to see and review this curriculum. Do district officials believe it is more important to have the approval of special interest groups than that of the parents of the children entrusted to them to educate?

The district has now released the curriculum revisions, a process controlled solely by Dr. Messinger. For me, all this raises serious questions about the overall goals of this curriculum and the process by which it was developed. If you share my concerns, please consider expressing them to the board in writing or in person at the Sept. 28 public meeting.

Sharon Nason lives in Helena.

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(21) Comments

  1. Terry Busch
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    Terry Busch - September 27, 2010 12:01 pm
    http://www.wethepeople-vancouver.org/Helena/CurriculumRally.html

    Watch And Learn
  2. Terry Busch
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    Terry Busch - September 27, 2010 11:55 am
    So happy to have participate in the Sept. 18th local rally supporting the rights of Parents to chooze and KNOW what is being taught to their children!

    http://www.wethepeople-vancouver.org/Helena/CurriculumRally.html

    Watch and learn the truth about what the local progressives and the MSM do not want you to hear!


  3. helenros
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    helenros - September 27, 2010 8:26 am
    I would like to point out that the opponents of this curriculum have been very vociferous. It is not inappropriate for the groups enumerated in the piece to mobilize their membership to counterbalance the opponents. Contrary to what people on the other side seem to believe, pro-choice groups don't actually like abortion. They just want to ensure it remains a safe and legal (and rare) option. One way to reduce the number of abortions is to reduce unplanned pregnancies. Comprehensive sex ed has been demonstrated to reduce unplanned pregnancies. I really have a hard time understanding how people could be opposed to this curriculum. It is fact-based. It doesn't promote sexual activity. It promotes personal responsibility and tolerance. What's wrong with that?
  4. WalleyeHunter
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    WalleyeHunter - September 24, 2010 10:07 pm
    Values should be incorporated into sexual education. However, so should peer-reviewed science.

    If we take out the latter and rely entirely on the former, the teaching of personal biology and sex ed will be entirely in the hands of an elite cadre of educators - go to the website "People of Walmart" and you will see them.

    Pregnancy rates are going to dramatically rise as a result of this shift away from objective curricula to a values-based program that is disproportionately filtered by the personal values of the parent, not to mention the all-to-often ignorance, or reluctance of the parent to have their child learn an important aspect of their humanity .

    Mark my words. I've been in other school districts where this has happened.
  5. Bojangles
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    Bojangles - September 23, 2010 9:29 pm
    ISIA - Oh my god.. I did it twice. Apologies.

    Nice to get a civil well thought out response. I appreciate it.

    Just to address one question... Do I think teaching kids about contraception will do any good? I don't know. It did for me. All I can say is that knowledge is everything. It opens a kid to the world of options, and options are a good thing. Teach abstinence, teach masturbation, teach oral sex as an option to risking pregnancy, teach about the harm and good of the pill... the harm and good of the IUD... the dangers of not having protection... teach the finances of child rearing... teach how it can open options and limit others... and we teach them what types of questions to ASK THEIR PARENTS we are doing them a great service! I say we stop pretending that kids are stupid... we can't hide them from the world, we have to prepare them for it. If parents don't want their kids hearing the names for our sexual organs and the names for sexual acts... good luck... you'd better move to Mars.
    I'm pretty sure that teachers are still the good guys... they don't get paid enough to take this crap if they didn't care with all their hearts.
  6. artemisia
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    artemisia - September 23, 2010 2:37 pm
    Thank you for the response, I cannot tell you how glad I am to read that I misread your tone, something that unfortunately happens all too often on these discussion boards. I think we may agree on some subjects more than you imagine. For instance...lying Catholics...having been a victim....excuse me I mean product of parochial schools that culminated in graduating from one of the circles of hell known as Ramona Convent....I can agree with some of what you say, however I do appreciate the fact that they allow prayer to a female demi-deity albeit this is only an intercession.
    After reading your explanation regarding the “how to think” issue all I can say is that I agree, thank you for clarifying, and yes I have a feeling knee-jerk reactions are what lead to so many angry posts, I’m sure if I haven’t done it yet, there is always the future to look forward to!
    I think a lot of people do think this curriculum is indoctrination; however I am not one of them. My main concern regarding this particular subject was first, my own teenager’s reaction, as it was one I didn’t really expect. In addition, I sometimes feel that parents get a pass on being parents simply by virtue of the way we’ve constructed society, you know the drill, school, followed by day care in some form, often followed by some type of sport thing, and then a quick trip through the fast food place of your choice, homework and the day is just about over. I don’t necessarily think this change is all bad, however where does the parenting come in? The point I’m trying to make is that some things maybe should just be reserved for parents to talk about with their children, so they can still function as parents and maybe the school district in this case is overstepping some boundaries, as it has so obviously upset many parents within the district. I hope I’ve articulated this a little more clearly as I in no way have an issue with same sex relationships or birth control for teens. Also let me make clear that I am all too aware that there are many, many parents out there who just don’t want to be bothered, which also probably negates the possibility of offering a class to help parents come up with ways to discuss sex, tolerance and other issues with their kids. One question for you; do you think educating children about the various forms of birth control, terminology, etc, will really help? I’m not entirely sure it will. Some have made the point that sex education has existed in the schools for over 30 years now and the number of teen pregnancies, STI’s and other issues have only risen. I think it’s a valid point.
    Now Bojangles, I have to preen a bit over the fact that my arsenal impresses you, and where did you say I could find that "Dick and Jane go to Cabela’s for Ammo" book? …oh probably Cabela’s, at any rate I promise never to point any guns at you…unless of course you continue to misspell my name.



  7. Bojangles
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    Bojangles - September 22, 2010 9:43 pm
    Artimesia - no anger. you are misreading my tone. When I ask 'did any of you even go to school?'.. what I'm getting at is that many of us went through similar teachings. People think this is about indoctrination - its baloney. I went to school - we talked about masturbation.. the its ok, don't worry what the lying catholics tell you, science proves you won't grow hair on your palms. The concept of how to think is a good one. Believe it or not thinking, real thinking involves contemplation, consideration, deciphering, investigating.. not just knee-jerk reactions. The danger is telling kids WHAT to think, 'like homosexuals are bad people condemned by god'. Teaching them HOW to think shows them the respect they deserve and allows them to make good decisions. And before anyone gets too excited - of course the greatest influence in their decision making would most likely be their family. By threatened - while i'm quite impressed by your arsenal - I was talking about people being so emotionally and morally threatened. I didn't assume you thought all the crazy open-minded people like myself might actually try to physically threaten you. I was assuming we were evolved to an extent. No personal attack... just making points.. hopefully one's that don't include your guns.

    Lastly - teaching this or any other curriculum doesn't involve teachers teaching their opinions. Teachers - good ones - teach us how to find information necessary to form opinions and then how to do so intelligently. These are the most important skills anyone can learn... but maybe we should just stick to 'Dick and Jane go to Cabelas to stock up on ammo'. (just a joke.. don't get all worked up)
  8. artemisia
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    artemisia - September 22, 2010 10:04 am

    I'm re-posting this as it never showed up after I posted it yesterday, sorry if it shows up twice...

    Bojangles (notice I didn’t misspell your name),
    Actually I don’t think anyone has the right to tell anyone either what to think or how to think; that is for the individual to decide for themselves. Education should not consist of a teacher giving their opinions rather, their job is to give information and encourage the child to form their own opinions. However I do find it interesting that you think a teacher has the right to instruct children on how they should think.

    I didn’t actually mention wanting or not wanting anyone to affect my children’s thinking. I said I didn’t want anyone else attempting to parent my child, and if you think discussing human relationships of any kind doesn’t fall into the category of parenting (or raising if you prefer) you might want to check out the definition of the word boundaries. I’m not sure why you feel the need to try and diminish anyone you don’t agree with by accusing them of having a lack of education, or normal household appliances, however you might want to check your own posts for spelling and grammar prior to questioning anyone else’s educational background.
    You also stated that I feel threatened…..to the contrary, I am well-armed and rarely feel threatened. However, I did find your angry response somewhat puzzling and just a little bit amusing, for obvious reasons. Something for you to think about; when an individual feels threatened they tend to react with insults and anger much like you did to my post, or maybe you are just trying to do your part to implement Alinsky’s rules. Whatever the case I’ll reiterate; arguments have more validity when they don’t devolve into personal attacks.
  9. stonebuck
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    stonebuck - September 22, 2010 9:58 am
    Common Sense said: "O.K., so how do we get rid of Messinger and his progressive agenda? By progressive, I mean for progressively more government control of our lives. "
    It is not just more government control.Proggresivism, is elitism in practice to be sure the ordinary citizens get what is really best for us in their elevated and enlightened minds, whether we like it or not. Somehow, in Messingers little mind, these additional explicit items in a health curriculum are necessary because, "there are those who do not get proper instruction at home because of poor conditions in some homes". I agree with Common Sense, we do not need this kind of help. I am of the opinion that the additional items being taught would not either hurt nor help anything. The thing I dislike is being dictated to by a man who is not representative in any way and barely accountable for his actions. Messinger has indeed been here long enough.

  10. Bojangles
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    Bojangles - September 22, 2010 8:35 am
    Common Sense makes NONE.

    Educating kids on nutrition and empowering kids against pedafiles, teaching them about safe sex and kindness toward others is Marxist? Socialist? Gov't control? Huh?

    Public schools are a social program provided for by get this... a government - always have been.

    Apparently you didn't attend.

    Home schooling for ignorance since the dawn of time!
  11. artemisia
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    artemisia - September 21, 2010 7:57 pm
    Bojangles (notice I didn’t misspell your name),

    Actually I don’t think anyone has the right to tell anyone either what to think or how to think; that is for the individual to decide for themselves. Education should not consist of a teacher giving their opinions rather, their job is to give information and encourage the child to form their own opinions. However I do find it interesting that you think a teacher has the right to instruct children on how they should think.

    I didn’t actually mentioned anything about wanting or not wanting anyone influencing my children’s thinking. I said I didn’t want anyone else attempting to parent my child, and if you think discussing human relationships doesn’t fall into the category of parenting (or raising if you prefer) you might want to check out the definition of the word boundaries. I’m not sure why you feel the need to try and diminish anyone you don’t agree with by accusing them of having a lack of education, or normal household appliances, however you might want to check your own posts for spelling and grammar prior to questioning anyone's educational background.

    You also stated that I feel threatened…..to the contrary, I am well-armed and rarely feel threatened. However, I did find your angry response somewhat puzzling and just a little bit amusing, for obvious reasons. Something for you to think about; when an individual feels threatened they tend to react with insults and anger much like you did to my post, or maybe you are just trying to do your part to implement Alinsky’s rules. Whatever the case I’ll reiterate, arguments have more validity when they don’t devolve into personal attacks.

  12. Common Sense
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    Common Sense - September 21, 2010 3:33 pm
    If walleye's attempt at humor wasn't so lame, which in itself was pretty humorous, he might have tried to put forth his arguments.
    I believe that the reason our school's are failing at their job to educate our children is because they mistakenly think that it is more important to teach "social injustice and tolerance as a means of power redistribution" over the skills needed to survive and excel in an ever changing and increasingly competetive world and job market. What are they thinking? Is this actually a problem we can lay at the feet of the educational unions? I think so. I see a lot of inluence coming down from the national union leadership. Since when is a union boss more qualified to teach my children than I am? Better still, who gave them the right to force their marxist agenda on the people of the United States? This is just another example of creeping socialism and increasingly more government control of our lives.
    It is time to be heard.
  13. dolphind3
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    dolphind3 - September 21, 2010 1:10 pm
    Well said artemisia, Your response was not attacking at all. I too am tired of all the name calling and this need some people have of goverment control over us. Anyone who says we are teaching our kids that the earth stops at south dakota is only trying to promote fear which is what they accuse us of doing, nothing could be further from the truth. Get out of fantasy land and raise your own kids, not ours.
  14. Bojangles
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    Bojangles - September 21, 2010 12:44 pm
    Artemesia... NO ONE is talking about raising anyone's children. Everyone is Helena is free to raise their children as they see fit.

    This is an educational curriculum. Teachers don't tell you what to think (unlike priests, and many parents), they teach you HOW to think, and give you the tools to do so. Good parents sit with their kids and discuss what goes on in school and help them make sense of it.

    If you don't want anyone affecting how your kids think, I'm sure you don't have a TV. I'm sure you don't have books. Did any of you even go to school?! What on earth makes you feel so threatened. I had sex education - some kids stepped out. We discussed Christmas - some kids stepped out. We were taught not to think less of ANYONE, whether they stepped out or not.

    Sometimes I think this town is from the stone-ages. Nutrition, Sex Ed, Compassion and Tolerance. Wow! How dare they! Meanwhile, parents are giving Mt. Dew to their toddlers, teaching them people will burn in eternal fire, baby-sit them with the television, and try to pretend they don't have sexual desires despite the fact that many young girls in this town aspire to be Juno.

    Do your kids a favor, reject fear, talk with them when they get home from school, and allow them to develop and learn.
  15. artemisia
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    artemisia - September 21, 2010 8:23 am
    WalleyeHunter said: "Heck yes, common sense! We had better watch out...pretty soon they might be indoctrinating our children that you really won't fall off the face of the earth if you go further east pact Wibeaux.... or, even more exotic, that there could be a strange natural force called e-l-e-c-t-r-o-n-s in the universe that could make metal filaments light up if in a vacuum!!!Whoah...that kind of progressive thinking could upset the social balance. But, as you would probably say - that sort of thing is nothing but sorcery and teachers who espouse that sort of fancy-pants knowledge should be dunked in the nearest creek to prove that they aren't demons."

    Still trying to figure out why people on these boards have to lose their minds like this rather than just address the issue. You know if you don't believe there is a progressive agenda, check out any one of these websites,

    talkingpointsmemo.com; democraticunderground.com; huffingtonpost.com; or democrats.com

    Of course there is a progressive agenda, and quite honestly I hope those who want to institute this "change" continue to beat the same old drum, attacking everyone who opposes them with nothing more than silly names and accusations, because I believe the majority is no longer buying it, and as you apparently are unaware not all of us fall into the categories you keep trying to jam us into.

    Walleye, I'm not a Christian, but I will defend their rights to the death just like I would any American being denigrated for their beliefs, and quite honestly, while your post doesn't mention Christianity, I seriously doubt you're bashing Islam for their issues with "sorcery". I don't believe the much discussed health curriculum should pass for many reasons, and none of them have anything to do with religion or same sex relationships. I don't want any group of people, be it a school board, the senate, or any public entity telling me how to parent my child. You know at one time I would have jokingly qualified that statement with “unless they want to pay to raise her” however, I fear that joke is slowly becoming a reality, one I didn’t ask for.

    I’ve digressed a little…..my point was, arguments hold more validity when one isn’t calling names or casting aspersions upon their opponents, but addressing the issue, and Walleye I wasn’t trying to attack you at all, and I hope you don’t take it that way.
  16. justme59601
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    justme59601 - September 21, 2010 8:15 am
    too bad walleyehunter has to be rude and sarcastic. but I would expect that from liberals as they don't want to be confused with facts. but as we know, liberals would support hitler and mussolini if they ran for office under the democrat party.
  17. Bojangles
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    Bojangles - September 21, 2010 6:59 am
    Give me a break with all the hysteria. Parents.. you are adults, right? Considering how you all have acted, it makes perfect sense to conduct an organized analysis. Review the materials with professionals, then take it to the community. No decisions were made without first presenting to the community. Big L is correct... this is common practice, and it makes common sense.

    Were you NOT ALLOWED to review? No.. I didn't think so. Take a breath and act like an adult. With all this hysteria and witch hunting, what exactly are you teaching your children?
  18. WalleyeHunter
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    WalleyeHunter - September 20, 2010 9:49 pm
    Heck yes, common sense! We had better watch out...pretty soon they might be indoctrinating our children that you really won't fall off the face of the earth if you go further east pact Wibeaux.... or, even more exotic, that there could be a strange natural force called e-l-e-c-t-r-o-n-s in the universe that could make metal filaments light up if in a vacuum!!!

    Whoah...that kind of progressive thinking could upset the social balance. But, as you would probably say - that sort of thing is nothing but sorcery and teachers who espouse that sort of fancy-pants knowledge should be dunked in the nearest creek to prove that they aren't demons.
  19. Common Sense
    Report Abuse
    Common Sense - September 20, 2010 9:06 pm
    O.K., so how do we get rid of Messinger and his progressive agenda? By progressive, I mean for progressively more government control of our lives.
  20. stonebuck
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    stonebuck - September 20, 2010 11:23 am
    Dr Messinger controls what happens and plans to effectively institute the program of progressive education he originally planned. He will do whatever he has to do to make it appear he is a benevolent comprimiser. He will not comprimise in any meaningful way.
  21. The Big L
    Report Abuse
    The Big L - September 20, 2010 8:32 am
    That is common practice amoung all agencies that utilize boards. It's a way to have professionals review the language prior to see if there are any problems with language, etc.

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