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State Board of Education
 
Guidance Document Change: The guidance document "Model Policies Concerning Instructional Materials with Sexually Explicit Content" was developed in conjunction with stakeholders in order to comply with SB656 (2022).
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7/12/22  11:02 am
Commenter: Fairfax County Public Schools parent

Apply the VA textbook approval process & workplace sexual harassment to all instructional materials
 

I have 3 Fcps students. Virginia has explicit set standards, processes and public review for textbook approval in its public schools. However, very few public schools in Virginia use textbooks in the classrooms. With 3 kids, 4 different FCPS schools and collective 28 grades in the system, the only textbooks my kids have received and used are for the high school college board AP classes. For all other classes, the schools either use outside, unvetted, often no bid contract, online companies, or material that teachers and district specialists have sourced independently via the internet and teacher sharing sites.  This movement away from pre-vetted, state approved, publicly accessible textbooks, to unvetted, individually chosen outside state approval, public scrutiny, and sunlight review processes, has created a situation that is ripe for misuse, abuse, inappropriate material, biased material, indoctrination and controversy.  Additionally, parents must request time intensive, and often expensive FOIA requests to even view the material taught to their children, often being told no due to "intellectual property" of the vendors, or are stonewalled, given incomplete curriculums, or sude by the school districts. Precious school resources are wasted on laswuits and fighting with oarents, over material that should be open and accessible for anyone who wants to see it, just as textbooks are and as the system was originally designed to do. Also, many of these vendors are engaging in data mining of our kids, collecting information about their feelings, families and intimate sexual details, in a way that is easily tracked back to the individual students through their designated school computer. How is this information safeguarded and who has access to it? Many of these tech companies providing education services are heavily invested in by communist China. Will tuis intimate information of our students be accessible to them, brought out at a later date when they go for a job or for a security clearance. 

1) Virginia has an explicit defined process for textbook approval. Digital programs have replaced textbooks in all orost schools. These digital programs must be covered by and subject to the same scrutiny that are defined by the state as the proper channel to approve textbooks.

2) Any digital surveys or data collection of student information must be opt in only, with informed parent consent detailing the vendor, its ownership structure, any foreign investors, what data is collected,  what the survey questions are, where the data is stored, how long the data is stored, and who has access to the data. OPT IN, not opt out.

3) All education material must meet state standards for workplace sexual harrassment. Schools are a workplace for the adults, and critical environments for captive audiences of children. If a book or curriculum would get you fired or sued if you showed it to your subordinate or coworker, then it has no place in the schools. Schools should not contain sexually graphic material that cannot be read outloud at a school board meeting, over the airways or at a workplace setting. Elementary schools do not allow movies to be shown in the classroom that are not G rated. All books available in elementary school and libraries should meet this standard. Middle schools and even high schools do not allow movies to be shown in the classroom that are not PG rated. All books available in middle and high school libraries must meet the same standards.

4) Explicit lessons should be also be opt in only, not opt out. My kids have been asked explicit questions in school surveys about specific sex acts. In 10th grade health, the students were shown a video of an adult male undressing, getting into the shower, taking a shower and giving himself a full prostrate and penile exam, with the camera focused on his naked penis for much of the video (FCPS 10th grade fle). This lesson could be taught in a much less explicit and graphic way than a 10 minute video of a naked man taking a shower and focused on his penis. FLE starting in middle school often details explicit explanations of specific sex acts, that far exceed the intent and purpose of the state mandates for FLE. Because these programs are opt out, many parents, particularly newer immigrant families with language difficulties, do not realize or understand how explicit and grapic these programs have become, at younger and younger grades. Perhaps creating some differentiation between the critical FLE information, grade by grade, such as hygiene at the youngest grades, body changes and basic reproduction in upper elementary, stds and pregnancy for the older grades as opt out, and explicit material informed consent opt in would be a way to deal with this issue. 

So much controversy could be avoided by taking those steps:

  • All classroom curriculum including digital curriculum must be held to the same state approval processes required for textbooks, as digital material has completely replaced physical textbooks, except for AP classes.
  • Any data collection by outside vendors must meet strict oversight and scrutiny, with mo ties to foreign hostile governments, and with informed opt in written consent by parents. Digital privacy and data protection of students must be paramount by the state, bipartisan,  and rigorous. 
  • All school material must meet basic state employmemt standards for workplace sexual harrassment. Schools should not have far looser standards than the basic decorum required by adults in the workplace
  • All explicit content and lessons in school myst be opt in, not opt out, with full daylight as to what the explicit material is.

Making these changes will improve education, protect students and student data, lessen lawsuits and controversy thus saving money, provide oversight and daylight, and align with the Virginia parent rights as defined in the Virginia code.

 

*** PLEASE work in a bipartisan way to protect student data, particularly with regards to outside vendors brought in to survey students.  The suveys are intrusive and intimate, taking a snapshot of the kids inner musings that will be a part of their digital footprint forever, by unvetted outside vendors awarded the contract often through non bid or hidden processes, violating many of the sunlight requirements for government contracts.  School districts are paying outside companies hundreds of thousands, often millions of dollars to data mine and indoctrinate out kids.  This is not a partisan issue. Out kids rights to digital privacy must be protected.  Please make this issue a priority for the VA legislature. Many of you no longer have kids in schools so you are unaware of how invasive the outside surveys have become, how intimate the questions are, and how little control the kids and parents have of their personal information, given to these companies by the school districts.***

CommentID: 122254