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A School Curriculum That's Good for Society

March 10, 2004

Re "Math Class vs. Sex Class," editorial, March 8: As usual, President Bush's proposal to spend $270 million solely for the purpose of promoting sexual abstinence misses the point and panders only to his right-wing base. Imagine if that kind of money were used to launch a required family relations/parenting class for every high school student. Imagine if they were taught how to resolve relational conflicts, how to discipline children without violence, how domestic violence breeds criminality, sexual promiscuity, drug abuse, etc.

Such a curriculum would do far more to strengthen the fiber of our society than some moralistic agenda that kids would inevitably ridicule and reject.

Alitta Kullman

Laguna Hills

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This conundrum, weighing the importance of educating and informing young people about health and sex against "standards-based" requirements such as English, history, math and science, is complicated enough -- driven as it is by testing, testing, testing -- without injecting the politically driven agenda of "abstinence only." There is no exit exam for health and family education. Consequently, with a shortage of both money and instructional time, these are easy programs for cash-strapped school districts to cut or eliminate.

Currently, LAUSD Supt. Roy Romer is proposing to eliminate middle-school health classes, where reproductive health is taught to kids most in need of the information, in favor of "hard" science classes, purely to drive up test scores. Though it is true that there is no testing in health, there's plenty of room for failure.

The young person who becomes infected with a sexually transmitted disease or becomes pregnant fails. The student who becomes overweight, asthmatic or diabetic because he or she doesn't know about proper nutrition and exercise fails. It is the school district and, ultimately, society that flunks the test.

Scott Folsom

Vice President for Education

L.A. 10th District, Parent

Teacher Student Assn.

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