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Sex Education Reform is Not a Dirty Word

Posted by Ryan Morgan on September 11, 2013 at 12:38 PM
headshotThe following is an excerpt from “Sex education reform is not a dirty word,” authored by Jan Collins.  Originally posted on August 16, 2013 in The Columbia Star. Imagine this: a high-school student is sitting in math class, preparing for an upcoming exam.  Her teacher, however, isn’t required to have any training in teaching math, so the quality of instruction the student is receiving might be awful or might be excellent.  Furthermore, the math curriculum is not standardized and teaching the subject accurately, as defined by, say, the National Association of Mathematicians or the national council of Teachers of Mathematics, is not required. How well do you think that student will do on that upcoming math test, or later, on the all-important SAT? This situation is analogous to what’s happening today in the teaching of sex education in the South Carolina public schools.  Twenty-five years ago, the South Carolina legislature--faced with the dismal fact the state’s teen pregnancy rate and rate of sexually transmitted diseases were among the highest in the county--passed a law instructing school districts to create their own sex education programs. The law, however doesn’t require school districts to report back about what is being taught, with the predictable result that some instruction is good, some is poor.  Moreover, with annual compliance reports also not required, some 75 percent of South Carolina’s school districts are, again predictably, not in compliance with some portion of the law.  Where is the accountability here? Another glaring weakness in the current law is that teachers don’t have to be trained or certified in teaching sex education.  The result?  Our young people don’t always get medically accurate and age-appropriate information. As reflected in the date’s still-dismal rate of teen pregnancy and births (higher than the nation average), and our rate of AIDS and sexually transmitted diseases such as gonorrhea and Chlamydia (near the top of the 50 states). Now, if South Carolina’s math teachers (or language arts teachers or science teachers or teachers of any other subject) weren’t required to be trained in their field, and what’s more, weren’t required to abide by accurate standards as defined by the experts in their field, you can bet this wouldn’t stand for long.  Changes would be made quickly and easily.  But this is about sex, folks, and so it isn’t simple. To access the article in its entirety (it's behind a paywall), click here.

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