Oxford School District and Parents Argue Over Sex EdBy Sandra Knispel | Published 05 Jun 2012 09:06am |
When the Oxford School Board decided last week to go with “abstinence only” for Oxford middle schoolers, some parents objected vehemently. MPB’s Sandra Knispel reports that the local quarrel over sex education is far from over.
Parents demanded more information on the secret 10-member advisory committee to the School Board. When Superintendent Brian Harvey refused to give details, one parent, Sharon Andrews, served the district promptly with a public records request.
“So that we could learn the identity of the members of the abstinence committee, convened by the administration to look at the sex-ed curriculum," she explained.
Harvey had to yield. Andrews is not just the mother of three students in the City’s public school system, she’s also a local attorney and former prosecutor. Poring over stacks of papers at the school’s district office yesterday that include e-mails and research materials used by the advisory committee, she’s looking for specifics:
“The committee recommendation that the Board relied on, we don’t think it was fully informed, because the committee does not appear to have been given the research concerning the effectiveness of “abstinence plus” programs, versus “abstinence only” programs.”
Harvey meanwhile defends his committee’s work:
“They reviewed the available curricula that we had at the time and they made their decision. It was an independent decision. There was absolutely no pressure put on any committee member," Harvey said. "And also I would say there was no intent from the beginning to hand pick any of the committee members.”
Reached afterwards by phone, Marie Barnard, a mother of two students who also happens to be an assistant dean of applied sciences at the University of Mississippi, is appalled by the quality of the chosen curriculum.
“The curriculum they have selected is neither medically accurate nor evidence-based. And so we’re hoping that the district will reconsider the curriculum choice and adopt a program that has been scientifically evaluated and found to be medically accurate,” Barnard said.
Now, this group of parents is hoping to be able to change the School Board’s vote when the decision comes up for a second reading later this month.
Sandra Knispel, MPB News, Oxford.
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