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School Hopefuls Clash on Sex Education

April 26, 1987|BETH UYEHARA

SANTA FE SPRINGS — The five candidates for the open seat on the El Rancho School District tackled some pointed questions from the audience last week at a "Meet the Candidates Night" sponsored by the California School Employees Assn. The election will be held June 2 to fill the seat vacated last November by George D. Crook, who retired.

The candidates, none of whom have held public office, agreed on many of the issues facing the district, including restricting proposed new building fees to commercial developments only, rather than homeowners projects, and striving for smaller class sizes in the district.

However, they differed sharply on the issue of sex education and year-round schools.

Albert L. Cortez, a recent graduate of Whittier College, said that sex education, even for high school students, should be primarily taught at home, and that sex education in schools should consist of teaching "greater respect for the body and mind. We ought to teach abstention, not condoms," he said.

The other candidates, Cecilia Chavez, Lydia Juarez, Lillian Silva and Irene Sylvest, all of whom have children or grandchildren in the district, came out strongly in favor of early sex education.

"A lot is up to the parents, but with our current pregnancy rate, we need sex education starting in grammar school. And it should be taught by specialists," Sylvest said.

Chavez said sex education should start "even in kindergarten, with a mild program. The taxpayers get the burden for these pregnancies," she said.

Silva, who also endorsed sex education in the schools, said that a health clinic on the campus of El Rancho High School might be feasible. "This is something we're going to have to address," she said, "although I might have to abstain from voting on the clinic (if elected to the board) because of religion."

Silva also urged that the schools provide some health and safety guidelines for children home alone after school or caring for younger siblings. "This is a city of broken homes or homes where both parents work," she said. "The schools should help."

Cortez and Juarez supported the idea of year-round schools to alleviate overcrowding, but Silva disagreed, saying that air conditioning should be installed first. Chavez said the district should open up some schools that were closed years ago before considering year-round schools.

The forum was attended by fewer than three dozen people.

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