KINDERHOOK – The Ichabod Crane School Board has accepted a more comprehensive sex education curriculum. The curriculum, which includes instruction on abstinence, sexually transmitted infections (STIs), HIV/AIDS, sexual orientation, social media, healthy relationships and risky behaviors, was approved at the board’s December 1 meeting.
The board accepted new recommendations made by the HIV/AIDS Education Advisory Council about the district’s HIV/AIDS Sex Education Curriculum. The council was formed by the board in August after a discussion of the district’s lack of a set sex education curriculum. The state requires schools to teach about HIV/AIDS but does not require a sex education curriculum, so the health teachers had been told in the past to stress abstinence-only sex education.
The council was made up of the school’s physician, a local clergyman, board members, parents, administrators, teachers and one student. It met three times with the objective of designing a sexual health curriculum “to serve a practical public health purpose: to reduce sexually transmitted infections, HIV/AIDS, and unintended pregnancy among the youth in our community.”
Superintendent George Zini presented the overview of the curriculum at Tuesday night’s meeting, and said the committee will meet again in June to continue reviewing the curriculum and make additional recommendations. Mr. Zini said that physical education/health teachers could now order textbooks to teach the sex education units of health class that will start in seventh and eighth grade, with four 40-minute classes on the topic. In high school the unit will be covered in two or three block classes of 82 minutes per class.
Tracy Nytransky, PE/Health Department chair and a member of the council, attended the board meeting. “Every school in Columbia County has some form of it,” she said of the sex education curriculum. She stressed that the district is not promoting sex but informing students. “Kids need to be aware of it and make good choices,” she said.
Board member Regina Rose, who also sat on the council, said, “We came at it from every angle, every concern.”
Mr. Zini said the overview would be posted on the district website at www.ichabodcrane.org.
The curriculum also includes an opt-out letter for parents to sign saying their child will not participate in lessons about birth control and methods of HIV/AIDS and STI prevention.
Also at the meeting the board passed a motion to support a resolution created by the New Paltz Board of Education in Ulster County asking the state to declare a moratorium on implementing the Common Core standards and associated testing. In a letter that will be sent from the Ichabod Crane School Board to state legislators, the board members say, “We must insure that the programs and curriculum supplied to our children, which will determine the future of our nation, are pedagogically correct.”
Ms. Rose brought the New Paltz resolution to the board for approval and talked about the document, which says that using test results to evaluate teachers through the Annual Professional Performance Review (APPR) and students through Value Added Modeling are neither effective nor appropriate.
The resolution states that it is “inappropriate to use results of the current state assessment regimen for any APPR purpose.”
In describing the New Paltz resolution’s criticisms of the new state assessments, Ms. Rose said, “It really pokes a lot of holes in the whole thing.”
The resolution also states, “Our conclusion is that the data produced by the state assessment system provide no value while simultaneously diverting resources away from initiatives that serve districts’ missions.”
The letter from the Ichabod Crane Board will go to the federal Department of Education, the state Commissioner of Education, the Board of Regents, the governor and representatives in the state senate and assembly.
The next regular board meeting will be Tuesday, January 5 at 7 p.m. in the High School Library.
To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email .