When are curriculum changes good and when are they evil? If you ask reporters at CBS New York, the answer will be a clear and unambiguous “That depends.” As an illustration, consider two reports at the station’s website on curriculum developments in New York City schools, one current, one from last year.
The most recent of the two articles appeared yesterday and notes that third graders will be reading books on war (or in the words of the author, “books on bombings, weapons and war.”) The subheading of the piece is “Content Will Not Be Required Reading; Many Parents Express Concerns.” [Emphasis added]
The promise in the highlighted text is fulfilled by three quotes from parents sprinkled throughout the article. All express reservations about the plan to assign elementary school-age students a book about a librarian living in war-torn Iraq. Seeming affirmation of parents’ concerns over the age-appropriateness of the subject matter is provided by “an early literacy development expert” who is quoted about two thirds of the way down.
But here is the quote by NYU Department of Learning Chairwoman Susan Neuman in its entirety:
One of the things we know, if children read books where they have no prior knowledge of the topic, they’re likely not to comprehend it or comprehend it well.
Neuman’s hesitations relate to comprehension, not whether the content will give the students nightmares.
Now consider how the same news outlet reported the mandatory return of sex education classes to New York City public schools in August 2011. This time the subheading is “Starts In Spring With 6th Graders; Catholic League Expresses Strong Opposition.” There is no mention of parent opposition even though the writers note three paragraphs down that “some parents are worried about the sex-ed mandate.”
This article again has quotes from parents, four of them this time. But only one of them expresses any reluctance at all and that is over her uncertainty about what will be taught. The other three are openly supportive of the teaching of sex education in schools.
But failing to include dissenting points of view was the least of CBS’s sins of omission. The writers also neglected to mention that students would be learning about mutual masturbation, French kissing, oral sex, and anal sex.
Howard Portnoy has written for HotAir, NewsBusters, Weasel Zippers, Conservative Firing Line, RedCounty, and New York’s Daily News. He has one published novel, Hot Rain, (G. P. Putnam’s Sons), and has been a guest on Radio Vice Online with Jim Vicevich, The Alana Burke Show, and The George Espenlaub Show.
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