Thursday, May 17, 2012

MV school board allows teaching of controversial issues

No, it’s not a new development. It has been the policy, at least on paper, of the Mount Vernon Board of Education to allow the teaching of controversial issues.

The following is the board’s “Controversial Issues” policy followed by the administrative guidelines for “Controversial Issues in the Classroom”:

Policy 2240 - Controversial Issues

The Board of Education believes that the consideration of controversial issues has a legitimate place in the instructional program of the schools.

Properly introduced and conducted, the consideration of such issues can help students learn to identify important issues, explore fully and fairly all sides of an issue, weigh carefully the values and factors involved, and develop techniques for formulating and evaluating positions.

For purposes of this policy, a controversial issue is a topic on which opposing points of view have been promulgated by responsible opinion.

The Board will permit the introduction and proper educational use of controversial issues provided that their use in the instructional program:

  A. is related to the instructional goals of the course of study and level of maturity of the students;

  B. does not tend to indoctrinate or persuade students to a particular point of view;

  C. encourages open-mindedness and is conducted in a spirit of scholarly inquiry.

 Controversial issues related to the program may be initiated by the students themselves provided they are presented in the ordinary course of classroom instruction and it is not substantially disruptive to the educational setting.

Controversial issues may not be initiated by a source outside the schools unless prior approval has been given by the principal.

When controversial issues have not been specified in the course of study, the Board will permit the instructional use of only those issues which have been approved by the principal.

No classroom teacher shall be prohibited from providing reasonable periods of time for activities of a moral, philosophical, or patriotic theme. No student shall be required to participate in such activities if they are contrary to the religious convictions of the student or his/her parents or guardians.

The Board also recognizes that a course of study or certain instructional materials may contain content and/or activities that some parents find objectionable. If after careful, personal review of the program lessons and/or materials, a parent indicates to the school that either the content or activities conflicts with his/her religious beliefs or value system, the school will honor a written request for his/her child to be excused from a particular class for specified reasons. The student, however, will not be excused from participating in the course and will be provided alternate learning activities during times of such parent requested absences.

R.C. 3313.601

Revised 1/6/03

Controversial Issues in the Classroom

The following guidelines are designed to assist teachers in the instruction of controversial issues in the classroom, as defined in Policy 2240.

  A. When a controversial issue is not part of an approved course of study, its use must be approved by the Principal.

  B. Before introducing a controversial issue, teachers should consider:

    1. the chronological and emotional maturity of the students;

    2. the appropriateness and timeliness of the issue as it relates to the course and the students;

    3. the extent to which they can successfully handle the issue from a personal standpoint;

    4. the amount of time needed and available to examine the issue fairly.

  C. When discussing a controversial issue, the teacher may express his/her own personal position as long as s/he makes it clear that it is only his/her opinion. The teacher must not, however, bring about a single conclusion to which all students must subscribe.

  D. The teacher should encourage student views on issues as long as the expression of those views is not derogatory, malicious, or abusive toward other student views or toward a particular group.

  E. Teachers should help students use a critical thinking process such as the following to examine different sides of an issue:

    For each stated position:

    1. What is the person (group) saying?

    2. What evidence is there that what is being said is true?

    3. What is said that would lead you to think the position is valid?

    4. What are the strengths and weaknesses of this position?

    5. What do you think would happen if this point of view was accepted and was put into practice?

  For reaching conclusions:

    1. On balance, what do you think is the most reasoned statement? the most valid position?

    2. What is there in the statements that supports your conclusion? What other things, beside what is being said, leads you to your conclusion?

See here for a PDF compilation of the “Bylaws & Policies and Administrative Guidelines” adopted by the school board.  

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments from all ideological viewpoints are welcome. However, please avoid abusive language and ad hominem attacks.