For the Children?

, Malcolm A. Kline, Leave a comment

The education reformers trying to avert abstinence education in favor of the now old-fashioned contraceptive instruction tell us that they are doing it, as they do everything else, “for the children.” One wonders whose interests they are really representing.

“There is strong and widespread support of teaching sexual abstinence to American teens,” Robert Rector and Kirk Johnson of the Heritage Foundation found. “Over 90 percent of parents, at a minimum, want teens to be taught to abstain from sexual activity until they have at least finished high school.”

“Some 84 percent of parents favor teaching a stronger standard: abstinence until a couple is married or close to married.” In a conference paper that they delivered last Fall entitled “Teenage Sexual Abstinence and Academic Achievement,” Rector and Johnson examined data from 17 federal agencies. They found that abstinence education also coincides with academic achievement.

“When compared to sexually active teens, those who abstain from sexual activity during high school years (e.g., at least until age 18) are: 60 percent less likely to be expelled from school; 50 percent less likely to drop out of high school; almost twice as likely to graduate from college,” Rector and Johnson discovered. Those trends held even when other factors, such as income and ethnicity, were factored in.

“The inclusion of social background factors such as race, parental education, family income, and family structure had little impact on the findings,” Rector and Johnson reported. “Even after inclusion of background factors, teen virginity was found to be a significant and independent predictor of academic success.”

“Abstaining teens did dramatically better academically when compared to sexually active teens from identical socio-economic backgrounds.” Most foes of abstinence education would say they want lower dropout rates and higher college attendance levels. Yet they oppose a program in which both outcomes are happy byproducts of a sex education curriculum which at least meets the standard set by the Hippocratic Oath of first doing no harm.

“Social science data show that teens who abstain from sex do substantially better on a wide range of outcomes,” Rector and Johnson note. “For example, teens who abstain from sex are less likely to be depressed and to attempt suicide; to experience STDs; to have children out-of-wedlock; and to live in poverty and welfare dependence as adults.”

“Finally, teens who delay sexual activity are more likely to have stable and enduring marriages as adults.” All of these results are particularly relevant given other trends among the young that go well beyond alienation.

“The suicide rate among children 14 years and under has increased 75 percent in the last ten years,” Rebecca Hagelin, also of the Heritage Foundation, pointed out in a recent speech. “According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, freshmen are entering colleges in record numbers with clinically diagnosed depression.”

“The college suicide rate is the highest it has ever been.” Moreover, the sort of pornography that passes as instructional material in sex education classes is not in short supply elsewhere in the educational system, as Hagelin noted.

“What about some of the books our kids are reading for school-assigned reports?,” asks Hagelin, author of Home Invasion: Protecting Your Family in a Culture That’s Gone Stark Raving Mad. “When I was researching

Home Invasion, I decided to thumb through a few books from a list of those recommended by the American Library Association for ages 12-14.”

“Good teachers, well-meaning teachers, hand out such lists at the end of every school year—I’m sure you’re familiar with the ‘summer reading list’ concept.” What she unearthed should give every parent pause, particularly at a time when children are increasingly likely to encounter pedophiles among public school employees.

“Well, I pulled a few novels off the shelves and what I found disgusted me,” Hagelin said. “One described a sexual encounter between fourth graders. Another was written from the perspective of a 14-year-old boy who describes, in detail, watching his first homosexual encounter. In one book, you need only to get to page four for the first of many uses of the term ‘motherf—in.’ So moms and dads should know that sometimes when Susie is upstairs being a good little girl reading her book, her mind is being filled with rot. Of course you should also check out the sex-ed class materials that may include contests where kids race to put condoms on dildos and cucumbers.”

Malcolm A. Kline is the executive director of Accuracy in Academia.

For the Children?

, Michael Reitz, Leave a comment

Their slogan is “Great Public Schools for Every Child.” At its 143rd annual convention, the National Education Association (NEA) offered up some novel approaches to achieve this goal. Mike Reitz, director of the Labor Policy Center at the Evergreen Freedom Foundation, shares osme of the proposals that came up at the NEA’s recent convention. -Ed

The NEA Convention was in Los Angeles July 3-6. Many absurdities you might find interesting:

  • Passing proposals: A boycott of WalMart and Gallo wines for their “anti-union” stances. Several proposals to oppose the privatization of Social Security, a call to pull the military out of Iraq.
  • Failing proposals: creating a federal Department of Peace, opposing the use of the new SAT for college admissions, calls for strikes to protest the cost of the Iraq war.
  • Conservative delegates introduced a proposal that would allow NEA members to obtain a refund of the portion of their dues spent on political activity without jeopardizing their membership status. Seeing that this accommodation is already required by federal law, the only explanation for the union’s refusal to adopt the proposal is its disinterest in informing members of their rights.
  • California delegate Diane Lenning proposed to amend the union’s sexual assault policy by inserting a statement that “the association deplores the advocacy of adult/minor sexual contact,” but discussion was quashed when convention delegates referred the proposal to committee.
  • The NEA’s policy on classroom use of animals states that teachers should “encourage compassion and respect for all living things.” Conservative teachers introduced a proposal to insert this phrase into the union’s policy on family planning. The assembly blocked the proposal.
  • A delegate from Washington state introduced a proposal that would have expanded the NEA’s policy on academic freedom by protecting “intellectual pluralism and the free exchange of ideas” in the classroom. This proposal was loudly criticized as “the beginning of a witch hunt” by conservatives and was rejected.
  • The assembly approved a proposal by the union’s Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender caucus that called for the union to “develop a comprehensive strategy to deal with the new and more sophisticated attacks on curricula, policies, and practices that support GLBT students, families, and staff members in public schools.”

    When a Pennsylvania delegate said that she opposed this proposal because sexual-tolerance programs fail to point out that individuals have overcome same-sex attraction, she was interrupted with loud booing, forcing NEA president Reg Weaver (pictured) to end debate on the proposal.

  • New Business Item 91 called for the NEA to explore alternatives to latex products at NEA events. While the resolution specifically identified products such as balloons and gloves, one can’t help but wonder what this does to the NEA’s sex education program. Perhaps missing the wicked irony, the rationale offered for this proposal stated: “There are many satisfactory alternatives to decorative and recreational items containing latex.”

Mike Reitz is the director of the Labor Policy Center at the Evergreen Freedom Foundation

For the children?

, Lindalyn Kakadelis, Leave a comment

Hang on to your wallets, it’s budget time. In Washington, Raleigh, and town halls everywhere, government officials are busy compiling their wish lists (funded by us, the taxpayers). Expect K-12 funding, a perennial line item favorite, to continue increasing at a much higher rate than the cost of living.

Yet, the magic mantra, “more money for education” continues to cross the lips of bureaucrats everywhere, begging the obvious question, “Do we really need more money for public schools?” In 2004-05, North Carolina spent $6.5 billion on K-12 education—from the state budget alone. Add to that roughly a billion dollars from the federal government and over $2 billion from local governments. Definitely not pocket change.

An infinitely more “profitable” enterprise for bureaucrats would be to answer the question, “How are our education dollars being spent?” In Mecklenburg County, some $300,000 over three years will go to fund the United Agenda for Children, a local action plan for improving the lives of children ages 0-21. While this program has some laudable goals, this money might be better spent on student instruction or classroom materials—especially since the Board of Education there has asked for a 20 percent increase in funding.

Meanwhile, Bertie County Commissioners recently requested a detailed audit of all education expenditures, asking auditors to specify potential areas for savings. While the audit has indeed been controversial, taxpayers now know where every dollar is spent. Auditors estimate that if all of their recommendations are followed over the next five years, the school system will save $7.7 million.

People are questioning the distribution of education funds in other states as well. Chris Patterson, Director of Research at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, writes: “What enterprise do you suppose wrote checks amounting to $1.6 million for lawyers, $375,000 for various chambers of commerce, $311,000 for professional association fees, $90,000 for Franklin Covey (personal effectiveness and productivity training), $14,500 for Billie Arbuckle Adventures, and $2.7 million for Young Audiences of North Texas (arts and cultural programs)?” You are right if you guessed a school system.

While budgetary harmony may continue to elude us, at least with respect to how much we spend, the above examples clearly demonstrate the need for greater accountability in education expenditures. In the final analysis, how much we spend matters less than how we spend it. All of which makes educational choice—a straightforward and sensible way of attaching education dollars to students rather than schools—sound like smart spending.

Lindalyn Kakadelis is the director of the North Carolina Education Alliance.