I realize I am from a different century and from a conservative part of the country, but I managed to grow up learning to make my own decisions and form opinions without being influenced as a part of the school curriculum.

There are some very concerning things happening in our schools across the country.

One mother in Vermont was infuriated when her daughter’s teacher handed out an intimate survey about student’s sexual history.  This child was in the 5th grade.

A guidance counselor handed out a questionnaire with questions about student’s sexual history, whether they’ve been in a relationship, and whether they’d had a sexual partner.  We are talking about 10 year olds here, not teenagers. 

When the mother contacted the counselor, she was told there had been an opt- out form sent home prior to the survey being distributed.  Like so many children, the girl had forgotten to give the paper to her mother.  The counselor told the mother she and several teachers had reservations about the survey prior to its distribution.  And yet they did it anyway.

WISE, a group that advocates against gender-based violence, distributed the survey.

When the mother contacted the superintendent, he said if he or the principal had seen the survey first, it wouldn’t have gone out to students.

It certainly begs the question of how such material could be distributed when there were obvious concerns by responsible adults and without the knowledge of school officials.

A Florida teacher recently distributed a quiz titled, “Does Nikolas Cruz Deserve to Die?” The quiz was given to a class of high school students.

Nicholas Cruz is the student who is accused of killing 17 people last year at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.  It was one of the worst school shootings in U.S. history.

The reading comprehension quiz was pulled from an issue of the New York Times Upfront magazine.  It began with typical questions about the death penalty, which was the day’s civic lesson.  It was a 10-question survey focused on the death penalty but mentions Nicholas Cruz by name.

This questionnaire was distributed to students who attend a school 10 minutes from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where the shootings occurred.  Many of the students lost friends during the attack.  Insensitive is not a strong enough word to describe the actions of school personnel.

In a message posted to the school’s website, administrators apologized to outraged parents and said it had been unaware the assignment had been presented to students in class. 

Once again the material distributed had come from a subscription-based publication, which was used as a curriculum resource.  The school’s leadership is now instituting an approved review process for all such materials.  I would hope they would make sure all faculty members are aware of this new policy to avoid another situation.

It’s one thing to distribute material from a third party and be “unaware” of the content but it’s another when a teacher makes up her own rules that have a negative impact on students.

A Memphis middle school teacher recently forced students to sign her bathroom pass policy.

It was titled, “Mrs. White’s 8th grade Admin/Bathroom/Water/Nurse Pass.”  It goes on to say each child is allowed to leave the classroom to use the bathroom, see the nurse, or get water only twice in a month.  Failure to comply would result in detention if said violation was not accompanied by a doctor’s excuse.

 School administrators were forced to release a statement about the pass saying it was inconsistent with the school’s policies, its mission and its values.

 And yet it was distributed as school policy to students who are taught to follow instruction from teachers or face consequences.

A high school in Oregon is under fire after one class was assigned a “White Privilege Survey.”  The survey was part of an assignment for a Literature Composition Class.

Students were asked to mark whether the following questions were applicable to them.  “I can be in the company of people my race most of the time; “I can be pretty sure my neighbors in such locations will be neutral or pleasant to me”; “I am never asked to speak for all the people in my racial group.”  The objective was to score them on how often they felt the ideas were true.

Outraged parents felt students should be focusing on academics and not being indoctrinated in the latest political fad or political agenda.

In this instance, school officials surprisingly defended the assignment.  They contend the assignment was meant for students to explore social issues specifically in relation to race, class, and sexuality with the aim of having students gain empathy, understanding and to build bridges.

I really feel bad for these poor kids. 

We have enough drama in this country with adults who don’t understand the need to be empathetic for people of different races, sexual orientation and class.  We don’t need any misguided efforts to shape the minds of school students about how they should feel about such issues.

Academics are one thing and morality is another.  I’m positive I don’t want my young child being swayed by opinions of people I don’t know.

 There is nothing wrong with having a healthy discussion about social issues but it is evident there is a problem with material being distributed to students that has not been properly screened by administrators. 

We put our children in the care of school officials and they have an obligation to be aware of any material that would be considered inappropriate or of a strictly political nature. 

Hopefully more schools will learn from the mistakes of others and put plans in place to review all outside material before it reaches the classroom.

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