LUSD to form com­mit­tee on cur­ricu­lum change

Lodi News-Sentinel - - FRONT PAGE - By Wes Bow­ers NEWS-SEN­TINEL STAFF WRITER

LODI — An ad­vi­sory com­mit­tee will soon be formed by Lodi Uni­fied School District to de­velop a strat­egy for im­ple­ment­ing Se­nate Bill 48 cur­ricu­lum in its class­rooms, as well as re­ceive in­put and con­cerns from the com­mu­nity.

When the com­mit­tee will be formed and how long it will con­vene re­mains to be seen.

How­ever, dur­ing Tues­day night’s LUSD Board of Ed­u­ca­tion meet­ing, it was re­vealed the com­mit­tee would be com­posed of par­ents, teach­ers, district sup­port staff, stu­dents and com­mu­nity rep­re­sen­ta­tives.

Se­nate Bill 48, also known as the FAIR Ed­u­ca­tion Act, is a Cal­i­for­nia Law adopted in 2011 that asks school dis­tricts to in­clude the po­lit­i­cal, eco­nomic and so­cial con­tri­bu­tions of peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties, as well as les­bian, gay, bi­sex­ual and trans­gen­der peo­ple in so­cial sci­ence cur­ricu­lum.

Nearly two dozen teach­ers, par­ents and com­mu­nity mem­bers spoke in fa­vor of im­ple­ment­ing the cur­ricu­lum, but wor­ried form­ing a com­mit­tee to fig­ure out how to do that was another de­lay tac­tic.

At a pre­vi­ous meet­ing, some board mem­bers sug­gested “pump­ing the brakes” with re­gard to im­ple­ment­ing the cur­ricu­lum.

“I hope that this com­mit­tee doesn’t have some sort of sin­is­ter agenda,” par­ent and teacher Lupe Cruz said. “I hope you re­ject the idea of bury­ing this cur­ricu­lum at the end of the se­mes­ter just be­cause some peo­ple don’t want it taught in schools. Many par­ents are pay­ing at­ten­tion to when and how this will be taught. We’ll be watch­ing you.”

Other speak­ers echoed com­ments made at pre­vi­ous meet­ings that in­clu­sion­ary cur­ricu­lum in so­cial sci­ence classes would be ben­e­fi­cial to stu­dents who iden­tify as LGBTQ.

Par­ent Suzanne Simp­son said many LGBTQ young­sters are not of­ten sup­ported by their fam­i­lies, and that school cam­puses have be­come their safe havens. She asked the board to imag­ine these stu­dents not be­ing sup­ported at school be­cause their peers do not un­der­stand their sex­ual or gen­der iden­ti­ties.

Teach­ing that his­tor­i­cal fig­ures iden­ti­fied as LGBTQ would help all stu­dents be more un­der­stand­ing of their peers’ lifestyles, she said.

“It’s the re­spon­si­bil­ity of the school district to en­sure that all stu­dents feel equal in schools,” she said. “It’s the right thing to do for stu­dents. As a so­ci­ety that is still strug­gling to un­der­stand these is­sues, we should not be tak­ing a step back­ward.”

At pre­vi­ous meet­ings, con­cerns were raised by par­ents that the in­clu­sion­ary cur­ricu­lum would be too graphic for some of the district’s younger stu­dents, Some also raised con­cern that so­cial sci­ence cour­ses would be turned into sex­ual ed­u­ca­tion classes.

Board pres­i­dent Gary Knack­st­edt said he trusted the pro­fes­sion­al­ism of district teach­ers to present the ma­te­ri­als in the way it is in­tended.

He also as­sured speak­ers that the cur­ricu­lum will be im­ple­mented.

“I do know our teach­ers can do their jobs and know they will do the right thing,” he said. “All this com­mit­tee is de­signed to do is come up with a strat­egy to im­ple­ment it and ad­dress any con­cerns you all might have.”

Knack­st­edt added that he hoped the com­mit­tee would be a tem­po­rary one, tak­ing just a cou­ple of months to gather the in­for­ma­tion it needs so the cur­ricu­lum can be pre­sented in class­rooms as soon as pos­si­ble.

Board mem­ber Ron Fre­itas said the district was not try­ing to sweep the is­sue un­der the rug, and that the com­mit­tee would come up with so­lu­tions for im­ple­men­ta­tion that will make all district par­ents and stu­dents happy.

“You have my pledge and the pledge of this board that this will be han­dled pro­fes­sion­ally and dili­gently,” he said. “This com­mit­tee will be one of in­clu­sion and ac­cep­tance. It will be one that sug­gests ideas, not plac­ing la­bels. You’ll want to hold us ac­count­able, and we want to be held ac­count­able.”

No ac­tion was taken dur­ing Tues­day’s dis­cus­sion. Specifics about the size of the com­mit­tee and when it will be­gin con­ven­ing will be dis­cussed at a fu­ture board meet­ing.

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