The Kansas board
of education this week heard testimony about its
proposal to require public schools that teach sex education
to emphasize abstinence until marriage or risk losing
accreditation. After two hours of expert and public
commentary about the proposal, the board decided to
postpone voting on the issue.
were uncertain whether the proposal would allow school
districts the discretion to offer comprehensive sex
education. In Kansas, 75% of districts teach
comprehensive sex education, which includes discussion
about birth control and protection against sexually
"We need to be
the ones to say, 'This is the right thing to teach,'"
said board member Kathy Martin, who introduced the proposal.
She noted that the accreditation of schools is already tied
to mandated math and science standards.
were not as sure the board should get involved with the
issue to such an extent. The state board should maintain the
right of local districts to decide their own needs,
said member Janet Waugh. Board member Carol Rupe
supported a recommendation of teaching abstinence until
marriage but said it would be wrong to change state
regulations to require it.
The majority of
public comments were decidedly in favor of sex education
that included abstinence as well as information about birth
control and other sexuality issues.
Educators Association executive director Sandy Pickert
testified that comprehensive sex education programs
typically spend just 4% of their time discussing
abstinence and are ineffective in preventing teen
pregnancy and STDs. Kathy Cook, representing Kansas Families
United for Public Education, said the issue is not
about politics but kids, and she urged board members
not to interfere with local school boards. Board
member Connie Morris angrily responded that the board has a
constitutional duty to provide oversight for schools. (AP)