Since The Sex Ed Chronicles is fiction based on the politics of sex education in the past, I was prompted to see how No Child Left Behind affects sex education today.
The most obvious impact is the lack of time to teach sex education; an emphasis on language arts and math skills and tests have taken class time from all other subjects. I imagine there was less time for sex education taught in public schools in 2007 and less time off, and we need more of both in our schools.
Not everyone has access to sex education.
As I researched sex education policy for The Sex Ed Chronicles, I read transcripts from a state board of education hearing from 1980, when compulsory sex education, politically known as Family Life Education, was legalized in New Jersey, my home state. The transcript explains the overlap between sex education and health/physical education, home economics, biology, and social studies. With so little time available to teach this subject, it is also possible that units related to sex education receive less attention. There is also a high probability that there is little oversight over sex education; Politicians have a natural tendency to ignore policies that they cannot enforce.
I can’t say that the legislative architects of No Child Left Behind saw a connection between their motives and a reduction in sex education. I saw no evidence in the media, and I wasn’t there when Congress passed the policy. However, in states with abstinence-only or no-marriage sex education policies, public schools can technically outsource sex education to outside organizations, such as True Love Waits or anti-choice groups–and comply with state education. Law.
Outsourcing sex education in a state of abstinence or abstinence until marriage is not impossible for me to believe; faith-based communities and groups receive more federal funding to promote abstinence until marriage than state governments at a ratio of about three to one. School boards can hire outsiders to get their message across and comply without hiring a certified sex educator. They spend the money they would otherwise allocate on sex education for something else.
Volunteers bring sex education to rural classes.
It provides age-appropriate, medically accurate, and minimal sex education. State governments, such as New Jersey, which have adopted a more comprehensive approach to sex education, a more balanced approach (abstinence and contraception, for example), have been ignored by the Bush Administration.
Faith-based communities and groups in New Jersey can still apply for federal funding through different budget channels to teach their message. However, Garden State residents, legislators, sex educators, parents, and students have to pay more to get the sex education they want; they have to fund programs, pay educators, and deal with the competing words of the envoys our president has helped.
That’s sticking it up the ass, or whatever proper medical name you like to call an ass. Not to mention the confusion caused to parents who want their children to learn sex education at school.
While I’d bet conservatives would be happy to see all sex education limited to outside instructors or homeschooling, that’s not realistic. It denies parents and children the information they need to know.
Stuart Nachbar has been involved with educational politics, policy, and technology as a student, urban planner, government affairs manager, software executive, and writer.