On the heels of yesterday’s report by Renee Nal that the Chicago Public School will not divulge the contents of its new African-American studies curriculum comes word that the Hawaii Department of Education is doing the same with its new pilot program in sex ed.
Malia Zimmerman of Watchdog.org writes that Aloha State students aged 11 through 13 have already begun learning about the birds and the bees, but the specifics of what they are being taught has been deemed off-limits to the general public.
State Rep. Bob McDermott (R), who has children of his own in the state’s public schools, is demanding that the department come clean about the contents of the 10-hour block of instruction known as Pono Choices. “Pono” is not a typo for “porno”; it is a word that in the island vernacular means “the right way” or “doing what is right.” From what McDermott is able to piece together about the instruction, which the DOE insists is “medically accurate,” he fears that porno label not may be that far from the truth.
So far approximately 1,700 middle school students have received instruction, and from what their parents have been able to glean, have been exposed to topics that many adults find graphic and inappropriate. There is a unit devoted to same-sex relationships and another to the “pono” method for applying a condom. Cucumbers and a wooden replica of a penis have served as models. In one lesson children learn about same-sex relationships. In still another, 11-year-olds learn about anal and oral sex.
In a meeting with other concerned parents last week, McDermott said:
They now have chosen to hide this material because they claim to know better than parents and state legislators what material is appropriate for their children and will not tolerate interference with their plans. You, as a parent, are no longer needed or wanted in the loop.
Donalyn Dela Cruz, director of communications and community affairs for the Hawaii State Department of Education, responded in an email the course material would not be made public, but offered to have the lead researcher, Kelly Robert, “address any questions.” But Robert followed with an email of her own, stating:
We are not releasing the curriculum or associated materials to anyone who has not gone through the Pono Choices training.
Senate Minority Leader Sam Slom, said his office has run into the same roadblocks as McDermott:
We made a formal request as representatives of the people to get information, which is funded by the taxpayers. It was denied. A government that hides public information is antithetical to democracy. Particularly now when have our state government and state administration talking so much about transparency. There is a total lack of transparency here.
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