At this past Wednesday's SHAC meeeting, I expected to hear a presentation on the new sex ed program that AISD is developing based the "3R’s" program from Advocates For Youth. Instead, Michele Rusnak announced that they are first going to form some kind of focus group of parents to get more input from the community. The meeting date is TBA but will happen sometime this month (May) and will be promoted through the campus PTAs. It was unclear whether specific parents will be invited or whether an open invitation will be provided to all.
But here’s the thing: I taught for the last 9 years at a school campus that had virtually no PTA. In spite of a great deal of hard work on the part of teachers and administrators to formulate a parent-led PTA, it ended up being the teachers, administrators and a parent support specialist who carried most of the weight. And even after nine years, we still did not have a fully functioning PTA. I wonder how many AISD campuses are like my former school in that regard,.
So, how will the district ensure that “All Are Welcome” to these focus groups? As I stated above, not all campuses have thriving parent-teacher organizations. But I can tell you this, PTA or not, there are at least a few parents who send meals during Teacher Appreciation week, attend Parent Teacher Conferences and take off from work to see their children's performances. So, if the SHAC really wants to hear from all parents and promote diversity, they are going to have to seek out these dedicated and involved parents and simply sign them up to come as representatives for their school community. The parents must be allowed to provide their opinions without censure. Then see what happens. And like one SHAC member mentioned, to have diversity, they need to “have translators”, probably for more than just Spanish. But with about a 1/3 of AISD students being Hispanic, it’s absolutely necessary that Spanish speakers be accommodated.
At this point, I see this effort to gain parental input as a step in a positive direction, provided they do the following.
The following is the information I shared with the SHAC during public comments:
1. A list of some of the core philosophies upon which CSE (Comprehensive Sex Ed) programs are based. (For middle and high school, AISD uses Big Decisions, a CSE program that is marketed as "abstinence plus." The "3R's" program intended to be used for K-5 is also a CSE program. (Click here for Big Decisions Curriculum Evaluation)
2. The Texas Code 28.004. The state guidelines for SHACs (click here complete document) state that te board of trustees of each school district shall establish a local school health advisory council to assist the district in ensuring that local community values are reflected in the district’s health education program. This includes [my comments in brackets]:
- appropriate grade levels and methods of instruction for human sexuality instruction,
[ “Who decides what’s appropriate?”]
- A majority of the members must be persons who are parents of students enrolled in the district and who are not employed by the district.
- Present abstinence from sexual activity as the preferred choice of behavior in relationship to all sexual activity for unmarried persons of school age.
[Most CSE programs only state this ONCE in order to meet state requirements, then spend the rest of the time talking about how to have sex]
These are just a few excerpts of state law when it comes to human sexuality education.
3, You’re Teaching My Child What? By Dr. Miriam Grossman – I gave each parent of copy of the front cover. If you really want to know where to begin learning what the big fuss is all about, start with this book.
Also (IMPORTANT): Call your child’s school and tell them you want to sign up to be on the new Human Sexuality Curriculum focus group to give them parental feedback, and take the Texas Code 28.0004 with you.
KXAN did a story on the Sex Ed Sit Out Protest here in Austin that was highly misleading. The report makes it seem like we are opposed to programs like LifeGuard, which stress abstinence as the best choice and how to avoid risk altogether. It was also reported that LifeGuard is a provider for Austin ISD. Not true!
The truth is that LifeGuard was removed from the district around 2009 because AISD, under influence from Planned Parenthood, decided to implement comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) instead. Now AISD is introducing a program based on Advocates for Youth's 3R's in kindergarten and it goes way beyond "friendships and anti-bullying", introducing sexual imagery and topics (discussing genitalia) as well as LGBT issues. It later goes on to teach about giving consent to sexual contact. The middle and high school programs use curricula that encourage sexual activity, based solely off whether consent is given.
It should be known that we would support having LifeGuard brought back to AISD. LifeGuard teaches sexual risk AVOIDANCE, while the comprehensive sexuality education offered by AISD in grades K-12 teaches sexual risk REDUCTION. All other risky activities (e.g. drug and alcohol use) are taught using an avoidance approach, but not sex ed. Why? Would parents be okay with their kids being given clean needles just so they can shoot up 'safely'? With the prevalance of STDs today, kids are risking their future health and fertility, even when using condoms. Not to mention the negative emotional and psychological effects that come with early sexual activity. This is the reason parents are protesting.
Of course, none of this was mentioned in the report. #FakeNews
This month’s meeting was sparsely attended but included a thorough report and presentation by the food services dept. of the District. Once again, the speaker was engaging, knowledgeable and clearly explained the dept.'s current accomplishments. The report included graphs, initiatives, and goals for further
Has this type of effort to present relevant information and quantifiable results been made by the District concerning Sex Ed? Why the push to start sex education in grades K-5? Are there a host of elementary school children engaged in sexual activity? What is going on?
I shared with the group that the "3R’s," the same program that AISD has used to model its own program after for elementary model, teaches anal and oral sex and the use of dental dams in its middle and high school curriculum (download file linked below for specific examples of what the 3R's teaches)
The program for 12-18-year-olds is simply a continuation of the elementary school curriculum, so can we assume that the elementary program is preparing the youngest students to receive this type of information later? Is that why students in K-5 are being desensitized to talking about their genitals openly and in detail, and being taught how to consent to sexual touch? Is the program being used in K-5 an open door to even more graphic and explicit content in later years?
I shared the following Center for Disease Control statistics on STI’s and condom success rates, as reported by the Medical Institute for Sexual Health here in Austin.
A nurse from the Medical Institute was present at the SHAC and distributed pamphlets regarding the success rates of condoms based on actual (not ideal) usage. Our kids need to be aware that condoms do not provide adequate protection from many of the diseases out there, and they are still taking significant risk, even when being "safe." She has reached out to school nurses at AISD to make sure accurate medical information is available to the students.
After the meeting, I was approached and told the following by Michelle Rusnak, the person in charge of the new sex ed.
1. AISD does not teach anal and oral sex.
2. Big Decisions, the program that is used for older students, is hardly used and is not the current 2016 version that includes, homosexuality, transgenderism and LGBTQ.
3. Anyone can walk onto a campus and look at the curriculum.
4. AISD has always had sex ed in grades PK-12 . But when I asked her which grades were taught sex ed, she confirmed that they only did the puberty talk in 5th to date.
5. AISD is following guidelines by implementing the new sex ed.
These are the questions I asked her:
1. Was sex ed taught in K, 1, 2, etc? No, no, no, the puberty talk in 5th .
2. What guidelines are being followed? No response.
3. Why hasn’t the district been transparent about the curriculum? Well, now it will be out.
4. Will the curriculum be available for an extended period of time for parents to view? Yes.
I will be looking into all the information that was shared with me and will share my findings.
On January 22, 2018, a few Concerned Parents attended the AISD Board meeting to make public comments about pornographic books available in the library as well as about a handout provided by Planned Parenthood to middle school students that included a link to adult-natured videos about how to consent to sex. Amazingly, a Board member accused us of lying about the Planned Parenthood handout. Here is a recap by Caryl:
"I attended my first AISD Board meeting on Monday, January 22, along with a few friends. I waited nervously until it was time for public comments. My whole purpose for being there was to share that Planned Parenthood had passed out material to minor children concerning consenting for sex. These were not just suggestions to access videos of couples consenting for sex and how to do it, but the handout also included encouragement to make an appointment at a Planned Parenthood clinic and that insurance is accepted. Kids can’t even take Tylenol without parental consent at school! Here’s what I read to the board:
Hello, my name is Caryl Ayala and I taught for AISD for 11 years, from 2007 to 2016. This is a copy of a PP Fact Sheet that was passed out this past spring 2017 at Covington Middle School in S Austin, without parental consent. Please note the highlighted phrase. Once you go to the PP Consent Video Series you will see Youtube videos of the following: lesbian, gay and heterosexual adults
getting ready for sexual intercourse, kissing and undressing each other. The narrator makes the following comments: “Sex is about connection and pleasure.” “Asking for consent can be kinda sexy.” “We all deserve a safe, pleasurable and awesome sex life.”
My comments for you as educational gatekeepers are these.
This behavior on the part of Yasmin Wagner was outrageous, because she immediately defended Planned Parenthood without even getting the facts. None of the other board members commented, although one board member was very concerned about the pornographic book available and asked that the SHAC look into the issue.
So, in response, I wrote the Board a letter (click here) with screenshots of the adult content on the Planned Parenthood website directed at kids, as well as asking for an apology for the accusation of lying. After a follow-up email, I received a response from Terrence Eaton, Associate Supt. For Middle Schools, stating that the materials were indeed passed out and stating that the situation was rectified (click here for his response). If it wasn't inappropriate, there would have been nothing to rectify, but it was clear that AISD leadership agrees that Planned Parenthood materials should not have been distributed to children.
I have heard nothing back from Yasmin Wagner. I can't help but wonder why an AISD board member would immediately dismiss the concerns of a concerned citizen in order to praise Planned Parenthood, without even looking into the issue. It makes you wonder how connected Planned Parenthood and the AISD Board are.
This month someone from the AISD finance department gave a presentation on how the district stands financially and how it is basically experiencing a $30 million deficit. My teacher radar was all over it - tables, bar graphs, pie graphs, etc. - a visual learners dream! This is how the district decides what programs it keeps, by how much bang they get for their buck.
So my question is ... why did the SHAC decide to start providing sex ed in kindergarten? Did they first a do an analysis to determine that the program was needed? Where is the data? If there is, please share that data with parents.
A number of parents made comments at this meeting, and covered the following topics:
Afterwards, I had a conversation with a school board member. It was very encouraging. She expressed to me that since parents were coming and making comments, the meetings were now more balanced in terms of viewoints. She encouraged me send her any material and findings that I felt would speak to our concerns.
So, I would like to personally thank all the parents and concerned citizens who have come to share at the SHAC meetings.
YOU ARE MAKING A DIFFERENCE.
Two AISD police officers gave an interesting presentation concerning campus mental health calls to police related to hurting others and oneself, among other issues. They also touched on the devastating effects of social media on interpersonal relationships and how it is interfering with learning. They shared data showing that mental health incidents are on the rise and will surpass last year’s numbers. One of the officers shared that parents are clueless as to what their children are doing on social media and are demanding that the schools intervene. He mentioned that there was only so much they could do.
I find this particularly puzzling as a former teacher and parent. Since they are working with the SEL (Social Emotional Learning) department, why aren’t these issues improving? The district requires spaces where students can de-stress in classrooms, such as mindfulness rooms on some campuses, where they conduct yoga and meditation (teachers use the app CALM). SEL also teaches character education via the Second Step curriculum and affirms all types of sexual behavior under the banner of anti-bullying. So, after listening to all the stats it was awkward to hear Julie Cowan (a board member) interject a recommendation to have dinner with your kids nightly. Wow! What a concept! Parents getting involved and taking responsibility for their kids’ actions. I spent the last 7 of my years as a teacher for AISD mentoring parents to advocate and take responsibility for their kids’ education and behavior. Every time they did just that, their kids would improve in all areas.
Three concerned parents shared the following.
Even after several concerned parents and local residents have shared with the committee about their families' values concerning the innocence and purity of their children, the SHAC members provided an invitation to a conference sponsored by PLANNED PARENTHOOD that targets all children and emphasizes reaching Hispanics and students with intellectual disabilities to teach them about sex. Click here for handout. Check out what the district is promoting and supporting when it comes to educating your children.
FYI – Michelle Rusnak, who is in charge of the sex ed curriculum announced that the district is moving forward with the sex ed program starting in Kinder (PK). No word yet on how much of Advocates for Youth's curriculum will be adopted.
Join a national campaign to protect our children from the graphic and perverse sex education being pushed in schools. Parents all over the country area fighting back against the indoctrination of children by abortion and LGBT proponents, by pulling their kids out of school for a day. This will send a message to where the schools feel it the most - their wallet! The event is happening on April 23, 2018. Visit the Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/SitOutProtest/ for more information.
Happy new year to all! Here are our notes for the first SHAC meeting of the year. Meetings are the first Wednesday of every month at 6:30 at the AISD offices. All are welcome to attend - especially parents!
SHAC Highlights for Wed, Jan. 3, 2018
The following three points were shared tonight by concerned citizens:
1. A New Report Shows Failure In School-Based CSE Programs
This handout states key findings (click here for link) of a CSE Report that can be accessed at SexEdReport.org. The key components report data on the following criteria: Reducing teen pregnancy, STD prevention, Consistent Condom Use, CSE’s Intended Dual Benefit, Negative Effects, as well as Abstinence Education Findings. In addition, a hand out of questions was presented to the member to consider for future CSE curriculum:
Does AISD have data to evaluate the sex ed program we are currently using?
Does this data indicate that the sex ed program produces increased abstinence and/or or condom use for at least 12 months after the program?
Does this data indicate that the sex ed program decreases pregnancies and STD’s for at least 12 months after the program?
Does this program uphold our Texas Age of Consent Laws or does it tell under age
minors that they can decide when they are ready for sex?
2. Hugo D., a parent of three, shared statistics from a 2013 AISD yearly report (click here for report) stating that AISD is comprised of 65% Hispanics and that a large percentage of those students are Catholic. He expressed concerns about whether the SHAC was addressing their needs and promoting initiatives that conflict with Hispanic Catholic values.
He also shared a hand out titled Table 34 - Examples of Multiple Orgasm in Pre-adolescent Males by Alfred Kinsey, (click here for link) the “father of the sexual revolution”. The table is a record of males as young as five months to 14 years old that indicates how many orgasms they had. He shared that Kinsey used these findings to claim that children are sexual from birth and needed to be sexualized early. He shared that his research shows a connection to modern Comprehension Sex Ed and that it has ties to what AISD is teaching our children currently.
3. The last info shared with the committee was a copy of a Fact Sheet by Planned Parenthood that was passed out at Covington Middle School (click here for link) located in SW Austin that included Planned Parenthood's "Consent 101" videos depicting highly sexual situations and teaching kids how to give consent for sex. Although there are several pages to the handout that the students received, only the front page was shared at the SHAC meeting. Here are the questions that we asked:
Did you know you were signing off on this material for our kids?
Who’s checking to see if the materials are age appropriate and who decides if they are?
If this material is appropriate for 12 -14 year old students, why are the actors adults?
If 17 is the age of consent, why is consensual sex an issue in middle school?
At the bottom of the handout was information about how to schedule an appointment for Planned Parenthood. Hmm, a multi-million dollar corporation is soliciting clients at middle schools. I wonder if they have a financial interest of being in schools!
Please ask your children if they are receiving any materials sexual in nature, and let us know via email. We are here to help.
Commentary on the SHAC meeting Nov. 1, 2017
The SHAC meetings begin at 6 PM every first Wednesday of the month except for the month of July at the main office downtown.
Members give monthly reports and unless you are member you are NOT (and will be told so) allowed to speak except for 2 minutes at the very end of the meeting - and that's only if it hasn't reached 8 o’clock, when the meeting officially ends. I’ve only been attending for a few months, but the meetings I have attended have all finished within 10 minutes or so to 8 PM. The chair has been giving time to a few people to make comments. So, if any of you are planning to attend and want to express your thoughts, plan your remarks by writing them down and make sure you don’t go past 2 minutes. Also, be aware that only a few people are allowed to speak, so turn in your comment early.
So, here’s a quick rundown of some of tonight’s topics and questions that crossed my mind.
Mindfulness – a program modeled after YOGA and meditation, 8 schools have classrooms.
What’s happening in those classrooms? Do they have a pulsating ball on a screen that speaks to kids, like the CALM app teachers can use on their phones?
Why would a school promote the religious practice of Buddhism and Hinduism? Christians pray too, but I am not aware of any chapels or prayer rooms on any campuses. Is my child allowed to pray during lunch, before a test, for a friend, etc? And why is the moment of silence now called a moment of mindfulness?
There are 14 Mental Health Clinics on campuses around Austin. A few of the campuses include LBJ, Akins, and Lanier. Students are assessed and prescribed therapies.
Are parents given reports of topics discussed? Do any of these sessions include sexual topics, and if so, do therapists demonstrate condom usage and does Planned Parenthood or any of their affiliates participate? Are parents notified before therapy sessions are conducted?
Red Ribbon Week – This emphasis teaches children to refrain from smoking, drinking, and taking illicit drugs. Anti-bullying is also emphasized. Before Welcoming Schools, and its special emphasis on LGBTQ families, anti-bullying meant everyone, no exceptions.
Adolescent sex can be just as dangerous, even with condoms. Why not refrain from that?
Will my child now be bullied because he or she does not participate in celebrating LGBTQ lifestyles and behaviors? On the Day of Silence in middle and high school, will my child be bullied if they speak?
Nurses on campuses – It turns out that parents are very distressed about their children with special health concerns and the lack of professional care. Some the campuses are north of a 1,000 students and have been using student health aides and virtual care via a Seton program instead of nurses or even LVNs.
Parents have questions, too:
"When will my child’s campus get a nurse to help with his intravenous treatments? Why is AISD saying they are in compliance when I have consulted with an attorney and he clearly says AISD is not? Why won’t anyone talk to me?"
In no way do I want to minimize the hard work that any of the SHAC members have done or are doing. Education can be a thankless job. I know because I taught school for many years.
For the kids,
Please join us for a parent information meeting on Sunday November 5, 2017 at 6:00 pm at Oak Meadow Baptist Church in Austin, TX. We will be covering current and planned sex ed/LGBT programs and content at AISD. The presentation will be bilingual English/Spanish. Childcare will be available. Hope to see you there!
Oak Meadow Baptist Church
6905 S I-35 Frontage Rd
Austin, TX 78744