Why am I only just hearing about the adoption of Choosing the Best for the Cedarburg Schools?
If you feel like this is the first time you are hearing about the adoption of the Choosing the Best program by the Cedarburg School District, you are not alone. Many, many parents have expressed this same concern. The Cedarburg School District has actually been working on revising its Human Growth and Development (HG&D) curriculum for a number of years now.
History of 2008-2012 Events to Revise the HG&D Curriculum in Cedarburg Public Schools
2008-2009: As part of a regular review of the HG&D curriculum, the Cedarburg School Board convened an advisory committee consisting of 22 teachers, parents, community members, pediatrician and clergy to examine the issue of HG&D instruction and to advise the school board on the approach the district should take in revising its curriculum.
The advisory committee, after almost 2 years of work on revisions to the HG&D curriculum in Cedarburg public schools, presented their findings and report to the board's curriculum committee and the full school board. The school board rejected all the work of the advisory committee and convened a new committee to re-examine this issue.
2010-2011: The second advisory committee, after months of work on revision to the HG&D curriculum in Cedarburg public schools, presented their findings and report to the full school board in October 2011. This report consisted of a majority report, a minority report (signed by 5 of the 17 committee members), and a letter from the pediatrician serving on the committee. The minority report recommended adoption of Choosing the Best. The majority report set forth detailed learning targets and objectives for a comprehensive, medically-sound HG&D program. It also set forth 6 goals and 20 recommendations, including an HG&D program that is medically-accurate, current and comprehensive. Click here to see the report of the second advisory committee.
Fall 2011: A district committee consisting of the Director of Curriculum and Instruction and the teachers who actually teach HG&D reviewed five HG&D curricula after the 2nd advisory committee completed its work. Because of the minority report recommendation, Choosing the Best was included in those curricula. Out of this review process, the options were narrowed to two curricula: the updated version of the Glencoe Health curriculum (the curriculum that the Cedarburg School District has used for many years) and Choosing the Best, again because it was requested by the minority committee.
January 2012: The district committee of teachers and administrators again reviewed the Glencoe Health Text and the Choosing the Best materials. The evaluations of these materials prepared by this district committee can be viewed here for Glencoe and Choosing the Best. (The links open slowly; please be patient). These "Instructional Materials Evaluation Forms" were made available to the public at a Curriculum Committee meeting in February 2012. As you will see, the district committee gave Glencoe consistently high marks, ranking it well above Choosing the Best. The district committee also noted serious concerns regarding Choosing the Best. These concerns were overlooked (ignored?) by the Curriculum Committee and the School Board in their decision-making process: throughout the public meetings of the Curriculum Committee and the School Board, the two curricula were presented as equal in strengths and weaknesses.
**Note the very short timeframe between the time that the Choosing the Best materials were presented to the Cedarburg public (February 16, 2012) and the vote by the Cedarburg School Board (March 27, 2012). The Cedarburg public had less than six weeks to learn about and research this new curriculum before the decision was made.
March 2012: The School Board Curriculum Committee heard comments from community members both for and against the Choosing the Best curriculum. All educators who spoke at the public meetings spoke passionately against the adoption of Choosing the Best. The Curriculum Committee, consisting of Rick Leach, Jeff Brey and Ellen Wilde, at that time, voted 2-1 to purchase the Choosing the Best curriculum.
March 2012: The Cedarburg School Board heard comments from parents and community members on the issue of HG&D. Over the objection of many parents, educators and pediatricians, the school board voted 4 to 2 (with one abstention) to purchase the Choosing the Best curriculum. Board members Kevin Kennedy, Rick Leach, Jeff Brey, and Duey Stroebel voted in favor of the Choosing the Best curriculum. Board members Chris Reimer and Ellen Wilde voted against the adoption of the Choosing the Best program. Board member Mike McMinnimen abstained. Not one expert on HG&D, pediatrician, medical provider, clergy, or educator spoke publicly in favor of the Choosing the Best program. However, educators, pediatricians, clergy, lawyers, school psychologists, many parents and community members spoke against the methods used and the message sent by Choosing the Best.
July 2012: The Curriculum Committee, now consisting of members Rick Leach, Jeff Brey and Chris Reimer, heard recommendations from the District Director on Curriculum and Instruction (Fredricka Harper) on changes that the educators who will be teaching Choosing the Best asked be made to the program. These changes included, but were not limited to, removing a number of the most offensive role plays from the curriculum, removing a short piece from a video that was found to be objectionable, changing the abstinence-until-marriage pledge from an in-class activity to an at-home suggested activity.
September 2012: In July 2012, Cedarburg Parents for Responsible HG&D Education requests that students who are opted-out of the Choosing the Best class sessions be allowed to spend the opted-out class time in study hall rather than having to do additional school work (for example, an environmental moodle). This request is denied by the Cedarburg School Board.