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Government gives money only to Sex Ed programs that teach not to have sex at all.
December 30, 2000 11:20 AM   Subscribe

Government gives money only to Sex Ed programs that teach not to have sex at all. Very disturbing article. Basically the teachers teach abstinence. No words about STDs or even contraception; or they'll lose their money.
posted by christian (48 comments total)

 
What do you expect from people who think that "teaching about masturbation" is the equivalent of "teaching masturbation"? Remember, there were people who wanted Joycelyn Elders arrested as a pedophile and child molestor. I wouldn't be surprised if we see "comprehensive sex education" teachers treated the same way, sometime in the next quadrennial.
posted by dhartung at 11:35 AM on December 30, 2000


This sounds like something left over from when Nancy Reagan was President (working through a puppet).
posted by Steven Den Beste at 11:48 AM on December 30, 2000


cf Salon's recent article about teen sex.
posted by todd at 12:33 PM on December 30, 2000


"It's a philosophical difference over what is sex for," she said. "Is it for recreational sport or is it something special and meaningful?"
Yes to both.
I really don't care, but this is the kind of junk I cannot stand having my tax money spent on. It is unfortunate some parents cannot be bothered to properly teach their own children about sex. Their failing to do so does not equal a governmental mandate to step in and teach garbage decided on by a committee. Let the government make the roads and keep the borders, and get them out of lifestyle education.
posted by thirteen at 1:05 PM on December 30, 2000


Well this also sounds like another case of mixing government and religion. As you can see by the teacher quoted, hers is a very hardlined Christian (no pun intended) belief that sex is simply for childbirth. Yet why should one view be disseminated amongst the population, especially when the survey blatantly stated that 80 percent of parents wanted their children to be taught about STDs and contraceptive devices.

Of course, we should ask these people when they lost their virginity. I'm sure the hypocrasy survey would reveal another 80 percent or so . . .
posted by christian at 2:16 PM on December 30, 2000


I despise the NYT. You can really see their bias in that article. The structure used to write news stories also creates a contention which may not exist. In this case, it's humanists versus religious types.

Notice the article doesn't actually give any numbers on the usefulness of absitence training — does it actually work? Do kids who go through it actually have fewer pregnancies or STDs? I've heard they do, but I can't find any numbers.

The UCSF HIV prevention program seems to like Abstinence training. Granted scary organizations endorsing Reagan as statesman of the century also endorse AT, which reason enough to temper enthusaism. That said, I wouldn't drop AT out-of-hand because religious conservatives are pushing it.

And remember, the NYT is biased to the core.
posted by capt.crackpipe at 2:56 PM on December 30, 2000


Take a look at the UCSF HIV prevention program's HIV prevention links for teens. Does that look like the group favors abstinence-only education?
posted by rcade at 3:06 PM on December 30, 2000


And I sure don't favor abstinence-only either. The best solution is certainly to let parents handle these issues outside of the classroom, but numbers show most of them don't or aren't effective.

I think kids should role condoms over bananas in class, along with a healthy abstinence course. I'm just worried articles like this — which excuse abstinence training en toto because some religious conservatives are pushing it — miss the point. UCSF has the right idea: a mix of education for a mix students.

Great graphic on that page, rcade.
posted by capt.crackpipe at 3:42 PM on December 30, 2000


My school had abstinence-based sex ed--the teachers weren't allowed to mention contraception at all, except to say that they weren't allowed to talk about it--and everyone entirely ignored it, as far as I know. I know that anecdotal evidence is hardly overwhelming, but...that school had as many pregnancies as any other. I remember feeling nothing but cynical boredom for that part of health class; it just added 'sex will kill you, end of story' to the 'drugs will kill you, end of story' and 'alcohol will kill you, end of story' parts that had already been drilled into me.
posted by Jeanne at 5:40 PM on December 30, 2000


The concept of this method of sex education strikes me as quite sad - teaching abstinence is teaching ignorance, and it doesn't do anything for the students. I was taught a very thorough sex ed course in school (my secondary schooling was in an Australian public school, and religious groups don't influence our government to the extent they do in the US), and my mother had already told me about sex when I was a child (with the aid of a couple of very good books - "Where Did I Come From?" and "What's Happening To Me"), so I didn't feel confused and I also wasn't as curious - I didn't feel the urge to go out and find a boy and figure out sex for myself. If the basis of my education had been, "It's bad if you don't wait until marriage, don't have sex, it's eeeeviiil" - I probably would have done just that.

The part in the article about having the students spit half-chewed cheese snacks into water to demonstrate what sharing bodily fluids is like makes me laugh, and not in a good way. They're making it look dirty and disgusting and - this strikes me most of all - infantile. They might as well just stand in front of the class and say, "This is sex ed. Boys, if you touch a girl, you'll get cooties. Girls, if you touch a boy, you'll be sluts. And gay folk and bisexuals will go to hell. Any questions?"

Argh. The startling lack of practical thought behind teaching absintence makes my head hurt.
posted by sammy at 6:44 PM on December 30, 2000


I've long thought we don't do enough in this country to address the cooties problem.
posted by rodii at 6:53 PM on December 30, 2000


Hmph, they wouldn't get *me* to spit out any cheese snacks, thank you very much... If I'm given cheesy food, I'm going to eat it, and that's that.
posted by whatnotever at 7:09 PM on December 30, 2000


Isn't this what the internet is for, though? If I were a youth now I'd know more about sex (and a hell of a lot of other things) if I'd just been on the modern internet (note: not the internet as existed when I was 11-13 or whatever).
I'm not sure how different it is in modern UK schools (I haven't been to school in a long time) but I seem to remember a lot of stuff about how plants recreate and a certain amount of factual information about actual humans but nothing about contraception. I hope that's changed.

Capt. Crackpipe: I seem to remember seeing a documentry about india where they sasid that the #1 thing that lead to lowering birth rates was sex education for women. I'm not sure what type of sex education though.
posted by davidgentle at 8:33 PM on December 30, 2000


Rodii, that link was positively scary. Thanks for giving me nightmares tonight.
posted by acridrabbit at 8:38 PM on December 30, 2000


Let the government make the roads and keep the borders, and get them out of lifestyle education.

Wrong, thirteen.

Properly informative sex education programs are a society's best way to reduce the rate of unwanted teen pregnancies and the transmission of STDs. This is always worth government funding.

Instead, get the prudes and religious bigots out of the school system and start providing education.
posted by lagado at 9:07 PM on December 30, 2000


David, I don't doubt it. I was saying “in a perfect world” parents would handle this, but they don't, so we have SexEd.
posted by capt.crackpipe at 10:54 PM on December 30, 2000


I would imagine that sex-ed in public school would be optional, and that if parents preferred to teach their child in a different way, they would be permitted to excuse the child from the school's class and teach them at home.

I seem to remember that option back in my school days, anyway... and I can't imagine it'd be any different now.

The problem is that religious fundamentalists aren't happy teaching their own kids the way they want, they want to enforce their morality on everyone else's kids.
posted by kindall at 11:01 PM on December 30, 2000


Wrong, thirteen.
What am I supposed to say to that? For almost all of human history there has been been no government sponsored sex education. I don't mind that it is in place, but I don't think it is a function of government. As long as it is in place, people are going to fight about it. I am sure there are people who think the government should be delivering hot healthy meals to every home in America every day, it is not what it was designed to do. A government that is all things to all people will do nothing well except waste money. It is not doing this well, and whoa... money is being wasted. I could die I am so surprised.
In regard to lagado's second point, it would be nice to keep those people out of the system, but it is their system too. Teach math and science, and leave personal matters where they belong. Certainly there could be no problem making the class optional and telling the truth to those who want to learn.
posted by thirteen at 11:41 PM on December 30, 2000


13, should government teach civics?
posted by capt.crackpipe at 12:16 AM on December 31, 2000


I never had civics, so I wouldn't know. Is it a citizenship class? I really don't care what the schools teach, I just don't understand why it is appropriate for the federal government to bribe schools to teach half assed classes. Would they even be teaching this class if they were not being paid to do so?
posted by thirteen at 12:25 AM on December 31, 2000


I would suggest a broad rethink of how education works starting from scratch. But that's not going to happen. Kids need (in order to be safe in the world) to know various things and I think realistic sex education is one of those things.
posted by davidgentle at 12:32 AM on December 31, 2000


Properly informative sex education programs are a society's best way to reduce the rate of unwanted teen pregnancies and the transmission of STDs.

No, abstinence is. Whether you like it or not, not engaging in sexual activity means not getting pregnant and not getting STDs, 100% of the time. (I know there are a few non-sexual ways of getting diseases classified as STDs, but those that acquire them in non-sexual fashion would have acquired them in non-sexual fashion anyway, regardless of sex education.)

I'm not saying you don't have a legitimate argument about teaching sex ed in public schools (though I admit I don't share that view). What I am saying is that it's disingenuous to claim that sex ed is the best way.

And in case somebody tries, "teens will do it anyway" isn't a legitimate response. If they will do it anyway, then they're still going to be at a higher risk of pregnancies and STDs than if they did not. And there are tons of fat, ugly teens out there who aren't "doing it anyway." Unless they're all rapists, male and female.

I just do not believe the state should have the right to impose its own moral judgements over those of individual parents, period.

By the way, "civics" is the teaching of civic affairs, the laws and rules under which society operates. Sexual matters have nothing to do with civics beyond those which are codified: don't rape, don't sexually harass, etc. What you do with a consenting partner is your business (and your parent's business if you're still a minor), not the state's.
posted by aaron at 12:57 AM on December 31, 2000



aaron, I think one of the points is that if school says "sex is bad. don't do it. ever. abstinence is the only way!", kids are going to rebel against it because the school said it is bad.

People are going to have sex. Period. It's in our genes. We want to reproduce. Add onto the fact that orgasmic pleasure is quite possibly 70% of human's driving force, and people are just plain going to have sex.

The kids need to learn what happens if things go awry. Condoms aren't exactly rocket science but they *can* be put on wrong, and that is just going to result in bad news. The kids should be taught disaster recovery *and* prevention.

But that's not the point. The point is that the government is pulling funding on classes that teach anything other than abstinence. And that's just not cool in my book. Especially when parents almost unanimously agreed that they wanted otherwise.
posted by christian at 1:35 AM on December 31, 2000


Good heavens, where is parental responsibility in all of this? I haven't seen anyone arguing that abstinence is in and of itself a BAD thing - in fact, we seem to be agreeing it's the most effective method for not acquiring nasty diseases and "accidental" children. So, let's tell everybody at least THAT much...

Now, Mom and Dad, if you think your kid should know more about the proper alignment of condoms and the exact proportion of orgasmic drive in relation to, oh, let's say, need for a Big Mac, then do it, and let the rest of the parents decide for themselves how much their kids need to know.
posted by m.polo at 6:34 AM on December 31, 2000


How many parents would feel comfortable discussing potentially embarassing subjects such as contraception methods and std's with their kids? Many parents simply ignore the issue.

I think it's the responsibility of government to ensure that children are given balanced and reliable sex education. Abstinence should be presented as an option, but to focus solely on this is misguided.

Here in the UK, sex education is fairly poor. Compare this to sex education in the Netherlands where they have the lowest rate of teenage pregnancy in Europe.
posted by echelon at 6:40 AM on December 31, 2000


How many parents would feel comfortable discussing potentially embarassing subjects such as contraception methods and std's with their kids?

That's such a cop-out. If you don't feel comfortable discussing such things with your children, should you be having children?

Parenthood is all about teaching your kids how to survive in the world. Sex education is one of those survival traits. Make sure your kids know what's going on with them, with people around them, how their life is changing with puberty and how sex can be a risky proposition.

That's not to say that it's an easy conversation. I've only had "the talk" (it was actually a number of talks over a span of years) from one side - the child's - and it wasn't comfortable for me or my parents. I also went to Catholic schools growing up, so while I learned a rather great deal about the reproductive system, abstinence was always the contraceptive taught to us.

Without my parents being frank, my sex education would've amounted to watching late-night runs of Porky's, and downloading text files from BBSes. Neither of which are a great source for reality.

It's ultimately a parent's responsibility.
posted by cCranium at 9:30 AM on December 31, 2000


That's such a cop-out. If you don't feel comfortable discussing such things with your children, should you be having children?

Actually, the parents who are uncomfortable with discussing those sorts of things are exactly the same people who were told that sex is bad, and that they should be embarassed because it's evil and vile.

Can we say, vicous cycle?
posted by christian at 11:10 AM on December 31, 2000


Just wondering here... why is having sex in high school worse than having sex in college?

Or, put it another way: what is so god-awful about having sex?

Now, I do understand that there is some impetus for girls to delay their first sexual encounter (girls who have sex under the age of 15 are many times less likely to ever have orgasms than girls who first have sex after they are 18), but what is so horrible about having sex before marrige? Maybe my (sub)urban sensibilities are getting in the way of my common sense here, but sex isn't exactly a vicious, violent act. Its mutually pleasurable, for god sakes! It teaches kids to care for another human being. It is one of the most powerful forces for building long-term relationships. It is the foundation of many healthy marrital relationships. What's so bad about having sex?

Marrige stopped being a sacred, state-sanctioned action long ago. Why keep sex ed in its shackles?
posted by Ptrin at 12:48 PM on December 31, 2000


Ptrin, are you sure your name isn't Paglia? Rule of thumb in abstinence training is if you're not ready to have kids, you're not ready to have sex — which would negate most college students. Even with contraception, you can’t remove the consquence of the act.

Xtian, cC, neglect takes more forms than not talking about sex with one’s children.

Aaron, I asked 13 the civics question to see where his boundaries for government funded education are set. Science and math apparently aren’t half-assed, what about literature?

What I’m getting at is that a socially-responsible government has a need to take care of its citizens. Civics (social studies) is an important part of education, because it teaches them about the government they live under. That's socially responsible. In the case of sex ed it’s keeping them healthy, and giving them reasons to wait to have sex.

I agree with everyone who said parents should handle this, but the fact is most of them don’t. In a sense, you have two choices: a publicly funded sex ed program or a large percentage of the population running around with STDs and having children at young ages — which increases welfare and social security roles. Sex Ed, comparably, is much cheaper, finanically and politically.

An interesting point to the BBC article echelon linked: ... the Dutch Government gave no support to a mother under the age of 18.

The Netherlands: extensive sex ed and hardly any benefits for single mothers. You can tell where their values are on this issue.
posted by capt.crackpipe at 1:05 PM on December 31, 2000


And in case somebody tries, "teens will do it anyway" isn't a legitimate response. If they will do it anyway, then they're still going to be at a higher risk of pregnancies and STDs than if they did not. And there are tons of fat, ugly teens out there who aren't "doing it anyway." Unless they're all rapists, male and female.

If you think that ugly kids only have sex when they rape each other, maybe you needed a little more than a just-don't-do-it sex ed class in school.

A substantial percentage of under-18 people are going to experiment with sex. The idea that they should be taught nothing but abstinence -- a moral judgment you seem to have no problem with in school -- is incomprehensible to me. It's like telling children nothing about fire safety because most of them will never live in a house that burns down.
posted by rcade at 8:41 PM on December 31, 2000


Sex ed issues become more difficult, of course, once you deal with another problem: that children are entering puberty at younger ages, thanks to improved nutrition and medical care. (Apparently, every silver lining does have its cloud.) What happens when physical maturity outstrips mental maturity--more than it does now, that is? Does "just say no" really work with a kid in junior high?

Thinking back to what I got in the way of sexual education in my high school (located in a very conservative area, I'd add), the only content I can remember is a) this is how babies get made--which I'd known since seeing a very interesting exhibit about the subject in London, at the age of five!--and b) here's a film that will show you that bad, bad things will happen if you have sex out of wedlock. This didn't seem to stop my fellow students from engaging in said activity.

Speaking of teens, are there any Chicagoans here who remember a front-page article that appeared in the Tribune in about '95 or '96? It charted the teen birthrate since the 50s, and pointed out that it had gone down in the oh-so-lascivious post-60s era. But out-of-wedlock births had gone up. In other words, shotgun marriages went out of fashion, for reasons of economics as much as shifting moral values. This jibes, at least, with my own parents' very unsentimental recollections about 50s teenage sexual morality, the male version of which my father grimly summed up as "Who can lay the most girls in the space of a year?"
posted by thomas j wise at 10:55 PM on December 31, 2000


I must reiterate: teaching abstenance assumes that marrige is somehow special. Our gov't has made it very clear that marrige ISN'T special, so turning around and saying that it is when it comes to intimate relationships is hypocrasy, at best.
posted by Ptrin at 4:57 PM on January 1, 2001


I am truly amazed that any of this is still controversial!

Sex happens, people! No amount of prudish tut tutting is going to wish that away.

Informed kids make fewer mistakes. What's wrong with education?
posted by lagado at 3:12 AM on January 2, 2001


I feel I must clarify. I'm not saying sex education shouldn't be taught in schools, I definetely think it should, but I think ultimately it's the responsibility of the parents to make sure their kid knows what's going on outside the world of DragonballZ.

It's also their responsibility to make sure the kid knows how to read, how to do basic mathematics, is somewhat cognizant of socially accepted behaviour (ie, not screaming "Fuck you!" in the middle of a mall beside the Santa Pictures set).

Teaching abstinence isn't necessarily about abstaining until marriage. My health teacher was quite aware that sex happens. Abstinence can mean abstinence until you're in a commited relationship.

lagado, I don't see anyone here tut tutting. But then I don't have a mirror handy, perhaps I'm tut tutting without realizing it.
posted by cCranium at 6:00 AM on January 2, 2001


There is quite a simple solution to all of this: complete school choice.

As long as tax dollars are to be compelled into the support of government-dictated school curricula, tax payers are going to have, and seek to vindicate through politics, a very legitimate interest in conforming those curricula to their most profoundly-held beliefs. There's no principled difference in legitimacy or propriety between using the political process to impose, or oppose, abstinence-based sex education, from (say) using it to grant, or oppose, spending tax dollars to support the Contras in Nicaragua in the 1980s.

It's all a matter of core competencies.

The government is very good at collecting tax dollars.

The government is not very good at making complicated choices about school curriculums for kids with differing needs, differing abilities, and with parents with differing value systems. Abstitence-only sex education, which strikes many people as utterly absurd, and many other people as unquestionably the only possible form of school sex education which could be accepted (if indeed any form should be accepted) is a great example of the incapability of the school system to do these things.

The market, on the other hand, is very good about segmenting buyers, discovering and/or anticipating their needs, and serving those needs in as finely- or broadly-gauged a variety of solutions as are needed.

The solution, then: make parents the buyers, armed by vouchers, in a free market of education, in which former public schools and established and new private schools are on a completely equal footing. The 80% who want total sex education can have it for their kids can have it regardless of what politicians think. Half of the remainging 20% will end up in total-sex-ed schools because, in most metropolitan areas, they'll reflect the consensus of better-educated and professional parents and thus have better overall education -- the market in this instance making a specific (and in many people's mind, enlightening) contribution to people's choices. The last 10% will get the schools their parents want -- abstinence sex ed.

But, bottom line, the entire 100% get the benefit of a free, open and competitive process in which all virtues and demerits of systems are open to discussion, and ultimately driven by people's informed and empowered choices.
posted by MattD at 7:42 AM on January 2, 2001


I have a friend named Matt whose last name begins with "D." Every time I see "MattD" on a MeFi post I think it's him for a moment. However, he's extremely liberal and believes school vouchers are the pulsing soul of evil, so it is particularly freaky to see his (seeming) name attached to a post advocating them...
posted by kindall at 9:06 AM on January 2, 2001


Public money shouldn't go to private religious institutions. That makes vouchers to me a conspiracy of Jeezuz lovers, looking to break down the church/state seperation and most voters agrees with me.

Vouchers are an underhanded way for conservatives to further erode the Department of Education (Buchanan, for one, said he'd dismantle it) and the teacher's union.

MattD is right, they are the pulsing soul of evil.
posted by capt.crackpipe at 1:14 PM on January 2, 2001


Kindall, sorry to leave you non-plussed regarding my handle.

But, soon enough, your friend will be with me. In the last 30 years, former left orthodoxies have peeled away, one after the other, as all but the most vehement recognize the bankruptcy of social solutions which supress individual choice and ambition and which fail to impose accountability and reward responsibility.

After all, your MattD (or his ideological forebears, if he is younger) would not too long ago no doubt have argued loudly for the virtues of big public housing projects, large and unrestricted welfare grants with no countervailing emphasis upon work or father's responsibility, hands-off law enforcement and slaps on the wrist to criminals who were somehow apprehended notwithstanding, and fiercely adversarial unions with an aggressive disdain for the productivity of their members' labor or the profitability of the employers for which they labored, and so on.

Now, no liberal, however far left, with a credible voice in public affairs would dream of articulating such a position, and few even advocate them in their hearts. Rather, the classic public housing project is regarded as a plague upon its residents and the communities in which it is situated, unaccontable welfare regarded as a destroyer of hope and an open door to every sort of social malignancy, tough and visible law enforcement universally acknowledged as a necessity and a benefit for the most desperate communities -- with the concern being for the care and equity with which suspects are apprehended and prosecuted, not with sympathy for offenders properly convicted, and labor unions reflexively defending salary demands as representing only an equitable share of their productivity and contribution to profitability and articulating the capability of a high-morale organized labor force to partner with their employers.

Extreme liberals will soon recognize that, more than anything else, vouchers (a) are the best hope for poor / inner city / minority families to break the cycle and attain upward mobility and (b) the tool which once and forever will insulate them and their schools from the centrist and center-right majorities which dictate non-liberal approaches to curricular matters such as sex education, American history and culture.

(One only needs to examine the typical elite university for the ideological profile of its budgets and faculty, and the vigor of its affirmative action programs, to recognize the ability of liberal ideas to make themselves very comfortable in the most competitive and open of milieus.)

Bottom line: the winners will be the families of the poor and those of minority ethnic, religious, and sociocultural orietnations (like the extreme cultural left), the insitutions in which they have already vested their confidence, and institutions both new (entrepreneurial and creative schools) and old (incumbent public schools) which can win that confidence -- and the only losers will be those institutions which refuse to win the confidence of their confidence. The typical suburban, upper-middle-class-and-higher, mainstream-thinking person, the enemy of all leftists, will gain comparatively little.

Those who cannot or will not take the care to make informed choices with the power of their vouchers will still benefit -- getting a huge free rider effect from the salutory competition driving all schools to perform-- in the same way that every person who goes to the supermarket benefits from the low prices forced upon the store by that portion of shoppers who relentlessly comparison shop.
posted by MattD at 1:25 PM on January 2, 2001


Now, no liberal, however far left, with a credible voice in public affairs would dream of articulating such a position, and few even advocate them in their hearts.

The only liberal running for president this past election adovacted for all the issues you say are dead. Cheap public housing, universal health care, abolishing poverty. Gore is not liberal — he is a conservative. Nader was the only populist to run for president.

Easy on the bluster, MattD. A lot of people would take issue of your version history.
posted by capt.crackpipe at 1:55 PM on January 2, 2001


Oh, don't worry, MattD, I'll get used to it. You seem to talk more sense than my other MattD.

I do understand and sympathize with liberals' fear that vouchers will result in the erosion of the separation of church and state. This fear is apparently founded in the observation that the vast majority of private schools today are in fact associated with some religious institution. However, should vouchers become a reality, I don't think that will be the case for long. Religious schools cater to a different demographic: people who want to instil in their children a particular moral system. In other words, they want their kids to attend a different kind of school, not merely a better school of the kind they can send them to for free. People who just want better schools without the religious claptrap currently have few other choices, but I think under a voucher system those choices would appear. It's hard to compete with "free" even if you're twice as good.

posted by kindall at 2:32 PM on January 2, 2001


But vouchers only pay for part of the tuition. People who need a well-maintained public education system will suffer the most under vouchers, as the money dries up.

It's just another jump to dismantling the Department of Ed after that.
posted by capt.crackpipe at 3:31 PM on January 2, 2001


Capt. Crackpipe: you raise a good point about the inadequacy / counterproductive nature of small vouchers ($1,500, e.g.).

Indeed, I support the total disaggregation of the financing of education and the delivery of education. The role of the government is to assess and collect a school tax (which I would still set at something like the current per-pupil average of $7,000 to $12,000 depending upon location), to skim off a very small (well under 1%) administration amount, and then immediately distribute or escrow the entire remainder for direct disposition according to parental choice. Each parent has $7,000 to $12,000 per kid, with supplements granted in special cases as deemed appropriate by the politicians (for learning disabled, for those extraordinarily gifted in some expensive-to-train for discipline, for those in rural areas who need more expensive transportation, etc.)

To avoid granting a windfall to wealthy parents, most of whom (by hypothesis) were already paying for private education, one could make the voucher amount taxable income with respect to parents who made above (say) $300,000 a year or something like that, or whose kids had been in private school for 3 of the 4 years preceding the adoption of the new scheme, or something along those lines.

The public schools which were owned by the government immediatley and at once become non-profit corporations initially governed by a managing board, comprised of their former elected School Boards, but thereafter by the vote of parents who choose to keep their kids in those schools, or whatever other creative means the particular school non-profit deems to most effectively enable it to compete with other schools and serve its students.
posted by MattD at 4:33 PM on January 2, 2001


Kindall: you are right -- demand (for good education) will create supply (lots of alternatives, some religious, some secular).

The weird thing is that the teachers unions and their owned-and-operated moutpieces in politics act as if introducing the market into educating the poor and lower-middle-class is a bizarre, reckless and unprecedented experiment.

In fact, this "experiment" has been going on for 50 years among the middle-class and richer suburbs. The market works as people, in effect, select among and buy schools as they choose where to buy homes according to school district. They choose among a wide diversity of private schools, parochial and otherwise, as well, and make highly nuanced choices.

Everyone I know who is considering or has recently went through homebuying has went through a highly elaborate calculation as to home prices, school quality, private school tuition, higher suburban property taxes as an implied tuition, the likelihood and timing of having kids, the relative difficulty of getting one of the small spots at the elite public high schools in the big cities (Lowell in SF, Stuy or Bronx Science in NY, Boston Latin, etc.)

The "great public education" which happens in the suburbs and the elite publics, and to which the left appeals as that which should be striven for in lieu of vouchers for the poor, OCCURS ONLY BECAUSE OF THESE MARKET FUNCTIONS. There is, and can never be, any great public education in absence of competition.

In other words, what they claim to defend is, as they would defend it, entirely indefensible.

Perhaps they simply don't recognize it -- which is troubling. Perhaps they hate the Catholic Church so much that they'll seize disengenuously on any available argument rather than condemn the poor to ignorance and despair than to let a few Catholic schools get a few dollars while the market gear up to fully supply choices where indepedent schools aren't yet vital.


posted by MattD at 4:51 PM on January 2, 2001


What I’m getting at is that a socially-responsible government has a need to take care of its citizens.

Well, that's just it. I believe a majority of Americans don't want a "socially-responsible" government, because they know that they will not get to decide what is "socially responsible." What they want is a government that will provide necessary services and otherwise leave them be, not bureaucrats thousands of miles away deciding how they can live and, worse, how they may think. And when you take decisions like how to teach sex ed to your kids out of the hands of parents, you are essentially deciding how the kids will be allowed to think.

In a sense, you have two choices: a publicly funded sex ed program or a large percentage of the population running around with STDs and having children at young ages — which increases welfare and social security roles. Sex Ed, comparably, is much cheaper, finanically and politically.

I have no desire to take away citizens' rights merely because it will save money. (And things like forced sex ed have not generally been without political risk in this country.) If it costs a few extra bucks to retain parents' rights to impart their own morals to their children, fine. As others have noted above, parents have responsibilities. This is one of them. If the government wanted to spend a little money to get the word out to parents that they ought to talk about this stuff with their kids, fine. That, at least, would leave the final decision to the parents, not the state.

If you think that ugly kids only have sex when they rape each other, maybe you needed a little more than a just-don't-do-it sex ed class in school.

Ah, the good old Appeal to Ridicule fallacy, combined with a mischaracterization of my post (I never said all ugly fat kids). I stand by the statement.

The idea that they should be taught nothing but abstinence -- a moral judgment you seem to have no problem with in school -- is incomprehensible to me.

I didn't say either of these things. First, I have no moral qualms about premarital sex or sex amongst teenagers. I have moral qualms about the government deciding which moral judgements will be taught to all children. Second, I don't want them to be taught only abstinence - I don't want them to be taught anything at all on this subject, as it isn't the school's business, especially in a time where so many public schools can't even teach academics properly. But I believe that, when governments do try to force sex ed into the curriculum, abstinence is given short shrift, tossed off at the very start ("Of course, you don't have to have sex, but in case you do, for the next 3 days we'll be talking about....") And that is logically indefensible.
posted by aaron at 11:08 PM on January 2, 2001



[capt.crackpipe] Public money shouldn't go to private religious institutions. That makes vouchers to me a conspiracy of Jeezuz lovers, looking to break down the church/state seperation and most voters agrees with me.

I hope, Captain, that you extend your distaste for public money going to private religious institutions to the university level as well. There's a lot of federal (and likely state) aid available to students at religious universities. Pell Grants, subsidized loans, and a variety of other mechanisms distribute what must be a huge amount of public money to institutions such as Notre Dame University (Catholic) and Baylor University (Baptist).
posted by daveadams at 7:52 AM on January 3, 2001


Whoa! Libertarian pile-on on thread 4987!

I don't think I've ever seen that on MetaFilter before...
posted by kindall at 8:50 AM on January 3, 2001


There's no real reason the voucher money has to go to ONLY religious private schools. There are tons of secular ones as well. And if you're giving the money in chunks to each family, it ought to be each family's decision the school at which to spend it. (As long as the school was at least accredited as teaching acceptable amounts of secular academics, of course. I don't think they should get money for a school that served only as ten-year Bible-thumping class.) After all, we don't stop welfare recipients from putting a few bucks into the collection plate each week.
posted by aaron at 10:17 PM on January 3, 2001


To save MeFi from having another potential front-page post, I'll put this here: the DA has dropped this case; a scan. It's about 460KB (ugh!).
posted by pnevares at 2:37 PM on January 25, 2001


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