In today’s editorial section of the Chronicle, there is an article Life Lessons. (I like how it starts out, “What’s wrong with this picture?” I use that phrase often.)
What’s wrong with this picture? Texas receives far more federal funding for abstinence education than any other state, yet in the latest government survey, it ranks third highest in the nation in teen birth rates.
Several state legislators are pondering that question and are working to expand the current system that stresses abstinence-only instruction to one that also includes information on contraception and disease prevention.
Two of those lawmakers are Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, and Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-San Antonio, who announced Monday that they are proposing legislation to give Texas students access to “complete, medically accurate and age-appropriate education about sexual health.”
“The status quo is not working,” said Ellis. “Only through honest information will teens have the tools they need for responsible decision-making and disease prevention.”
The proposed measure will not require public schools to teach sex education. (It is not currently mandated.) But it will require those districts that do so to provide complete and medically accurate information.
Even Sarah Palin’s daughter cried out that abstinence doesn’t work. We certainly need to start with that, and educate teens as to why they should NOT have sex, duh! But, we all know, been there done that, teens will have sex. Like it or not. So…we need to educate them on the fundamentals of and the consequences of, having sex, especially before marriage, etc., etc.
State Rep. Jessica Farrar, D-Houston, an advocate of expanded sex education, told the Chronicle that comprehensive, accurate and age-appropriate sex education is “the first line of defense against unwanted pregnancy.”
My friend and colleague, Dr. Diane Trautman, is currently working with One Voice on their legislative agenda for this session. They are supporting three resolutions:
1. Continue funding after pregnant students deliver their babies. Currently, funds stop after delivery and of course that’s when the moms drop out.
2. Begin “Abstinence Plus” programs in middle and high school. Talk about abstinence but also include information on other types of birth control.
3. Make sure teacher preparation programs include Positive Behavioral Management strategies that teach teachers how to address problems in their classrooms rather than escalate situations and send kids to alternative placement, where again they just drop out rather than attend.
They feel these issues would address the drop out rate, which certainly is one of the key factors as to why teens tend to dropout – pregnancies.
I was also having a conversation with another colleague, Mike Beck, a social worker for Humble ISD, yesterday. We were discussing what happens when teens get pregnant. Then, within 5 years their kids start into the public school system. He made me aware of how these kids will be no more involved in their child’s school than their parents were. And we all know parental involvement is the key, a major key to success. A vicious cycle, if you ask me.
I’m beginning to see a glimmer of hope, each day. When we address issues and use common sense instead of old school – that don’t work syndrome – we may just see some success come our way…sooner better than later, I only hope.