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Scappoose school board continues sex ed discussion

The Scappoose School District Board held a work session Monday, June 24, to discuss controversial state-recommended sexual education curriculums.

A committee made up of teachers, parents and community members proposed the supplemental curriculums for adoption June 10 at a Scappoose School District Board meeting after reviewing the material for four months. The committee approved of all the curriculums in order to meet new state education standards, but were met with criticism from parents and teachers who felt the curriculums’ content was too graphic for the age groups it was geared toward.

The sexuality education curriculums are expected to be discussed and possibly adopted at the July 11 Scappoose School Board meeting starting at 6:30 p.m.

Pam Reynolds, Scappoose Middle School principal, Jennifer Angelo, sixth-grade teacher, and Erica Maller, middle school health teacher, were on the committee and discussed the supplemental curriculum with the school board Monday, saying that the committee approved all of the state-recommended supplemental materials so teachers would have a variety of resources to pull from when teaching standards not covered in the current text.

“A lot of the lessons are great,” she said. “People need to know that we don’t teach from a script, even when there is a script in front of us. That’s not the way it works.”

-Jennifer Angelo, sixth-grade teacher

Reynolds said none of the supplemental materials are intended to be used in their entirety, and teachers should be provided with plenty of material from which to choose for lessons.

“It’s really important that we trust our educators,” she said.

Unlike other courses, sexual education curriculum has to be approved by the school board before being taught to students. This means teachers are restricted in the the breadth of materials they’re allowed to choose for lesson plans. In all other courses, teachers have the freedom to access material from anywhere they choose in order to achieve state standards.

“Our textbooks have HIV statistics from 2001,” Maller said. “Teachers aren’t allowed to look up current statistics.”

Maller added that lesson plans are available to parents before they are presented to students and opt-out options are provided by law for every student.

“Our intent is to give teachers options,” she said.

Angelo said that although there was some questionable content within the supplemental curriculum, there was also plenty of useful material. “A lot of the lessons are great,” she said. “People need to know that we don’t teach from a script, even when there is a script in front of us. That’s not the way it works.”

Different curriculums were sought out by committee members but were not approved due a lack of cultural sensitivity and gender sensitivity. A faith-based program, titled AWARE, was proposed by one committee member, but it involved outside persons coming into the classroom to talk about particular topics, which the committee deemed inappropriate due to the sensitive nature of the material, Maller said.

Maller added that a lot of concerns were voiced within the committee about how the new standards came about, though those discussions were not applicable to the committee. “Regardless, those are standards we have to adhere to,” she said.

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