Rep. McDermott responds to Pono Choices review report
News Release from Office of Rep Bob McDermott June 6, 2014
Although he has not received a copy of the full report from the Department Of Education, Representative McDermott has reviewed the recommendations listed in their press release issued late Friday. "I see that several of the points that we made in our January 31st McDermott Report are being addressed," said McDermott. "I can't comment on their recommendations in their entirety before I study the full report, but what I see in this press release is a partial victory for all the parents who voiced their concerns."
McDermott listed three specific subjects that the review committee have recommended for revision:
- Correct the medical inaccuracy of classifying the anus as a genital.
- To disclose the elevated risk of disease with anal sex.
- The recommendation that the program be an "opt in" vs and "opt out" program.
"We had a whole list of things that we had concerns with, but those three were major ones." Added McDermott. "I'd like to point out that the DOE review committee is not responding to me, but to the thousands of parents who have a problem with these types of social engineering programs, and the usurpation of the parental role."
McDermott is pleased that Pono Choices is essentially off the shelf for the immediate future, while it undergoes revision, but remains skeptical of whether the state should be so involved, and whether the subject matter is age-appropriate in the first place.
"The devil is in the details," said McDermott.
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Department of Education releases sexual education report
The Hawaii State Department of Education (DOE) today released a report that announces actions it is taking based on a panel review of Pono Choices, a middle-school sexual health education curriculum.
LINK: View highlights of recommendations, internal actions
News Release from Hawaii DoE June 6, 2014
HONOLULU – The Hawaii State Department of Education (DOE) today released a report that announces actions it is taking based on a panel review of Pono Choices, a middle-school sexual health education curriculum. The report entitled, Implementing Sexual Health Education: Background and Actions for Improvement, details 11 specific recommendations to improve the curriculum and a dozen internal actions the DOE is taking to improve curriculum reviews and parental choice.
Pono Choices was developed and is owned by the University of Hawaii at Manoa’s Center on Disability Studies (UHM-CDS), and was implemented in five schools this past semester. In response to feedback from various stakeholders, the Department convened the Pono Choices Stakeholder Review Panel, chaired by DOE Deputy Superintendent Ronn Nozoe to review the curriculum and make recommendations. The Panel generated a report, Stakeholder Panel Review: Pono Choices Curriculum, February – May 2014: Final Report, which summarizes their discussions and lists specific recommendations.
The DOE is formally requesting that UHM-CDS consider addressing recommendations for changes to further improve the curriculum and address stakeholders’ concerns. Among the recommended changes: characterization of the anus as a genital, increasing information about the risks of anal sex, and improvements to the Parent Night Guide to provide more transparency to families about the curriculum to inform their decision making.
The DOE’s report also announces 12 additional internal actions it is taking to improve curriculum review processes and increase parental role in decision making around sexual health education. They include changing the requirement from a parent opt-out decision to an opt-in; reviewing the design and sequence of health and life science courses; and defining a clear process for curriculum and instructional materials review and approval that reflects state law and Board policy regarding roles and responsibilities.
The Department also recommends that the Board of Education review, as part of its ongoing policy audit, policies 2210 and 2245 to provide clarity around the context for classroom discussions about prophylactic devices.
“Let’s not forget that the goal of this curriculum and our sexual health education standards, Board policies, and state laws, is to reduce unintended teen pregnancies and the spread of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) including HIV,” noted Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi. “Given the statistics about Hawaii’s youth — the rate of sexual activity, failure to use protection, rate of pregnancy, and the spread of disease — we must work together to ensure students are educated to make better choices.”
“There is no avoiding the fact that sexual health education is a sensitive and divisive issue,” stated Nozoe. “We took the concerns raised by members of the public seriously. Both the recommendations to UHM-CDS and changes to the department’s internal processes reflect that.”
About the Hawaii State Department of Education
The Hawaii State Department of Education is the ninth-largest U.S. school district and the only statewide educational system in the country. It is comprised of 255 schools and 33 charter schools, and serves more than 185,000 students. King Kamehameha III established Hawaii’s public school system in 1840. The DOE is in the midst of a range of historic efforts to transform its public education system to ensure graduates succeed in college or careers. View our milestones in transformation since 2010.
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