Cornerstone Action supports HB 1461, which requires school officials to notify parents of a class or event involving an outside speaker and allow parents to opt for their child not to participate in the class or event.
There are a number of examples where parents are finding out their children have been required to participate in a class that they felt did not serve their children well. This not only undermines the role of the parent, it can sometimes have negative consequences on the child.
During prior testimony on another bill, I brought forth the example in Keene where students participated in a class on HIV/AIDS. An outside organization provided a speaker. To the surprise of many parents, this organization provided students with a gift bag of condoms, lubricant and candy. As you can see in the video [linked below], students reported that their peers were going to go home and try out the condoms and lubricant with their boyfriends and girlfriends. Many parents were shocked that this presentation was made and angered that they were not informed.
The parents I spoke to wanted factual information shared with their children on HIV/AIDS. However, several parents noted that the presentation encouraged sexual activity among teenagers. That was confirmed by the students interviewed in the media clip [linked above].
There are other studies that have been done on the D.A.R.E. program. Some of these studies show that D.A.R.E is ineffective. However well intentioned such programs may be, if the consequences conflict with the stated goal, it’s clear that an opportunity to opt out would be in the best interest of the child. http://ajph.aphapublications.org/doi/abs/10.2105/AJPH.94.6.1027
I understand that you must weigh the benefits of offering parents more control over their child’s education with the costs imposed on the school. However, when parents have a voice in their child’s education, they are more likely to keep their children in that school and value the communication and collaboration with school administrators and teachers.
—Ann Marie Banfield for Cornerstone Action