During one hour on Tuesday, I was able to complete two presentations for the CHART policy. The first of these presentations was for Durant School Board (Holmes, P1), and it took place at their central office. After a brief description of the policy, I answered questions on the following topics:

Possibility of implementing a middle school curriculum only…
While the CHART policy only requires districts to start sex education by 7th grade, I strongly encouraged the board to consider implementing curricula for 7-12 grade. It wouldn’t make much sense to teach evidence-based sex ed in middle school and leave high schoolers out, especially when 76% of Mississippi 12th graders have had sex at least once.

Student sex ed requirement…
Although districts are required to teach sex education, students aren’t required to take it. I also pointed out that with the state-mandated “opt in” policy in place, students would need written permission to take part in sex ed classes.

Compliance issues…
Districts that adopt the CHART policy will receive an implementation guide, as well as a copy of the curriculum guide. The implementation guide will give districts tips on how to implement the sex ed requirement in the most effective way.

The superintendent in Durant is expected to retire this coming spring. In earlier conversations, there appeared to be some hesitation about the Board adopting a policy before the transition takes place. That said, there appeared to be some support for CHART among the board members. We’ll see what happend.

CALLING COLUMBUS

The presentation for the Columbus School District (Lowndes, P3) actually took place via-cell phone from the Fred’s Dollar Store parking lot in Durant. The district has put together a committee of teachers, administrators, and parents to review the sex ed policy options and make a recommendation to the school board. I spoke to the board while the school nurse advanced the slides of my presentation.

As usual, I started with the county teen birth and STD data. Although the rates in Lowndes County aren’t as jaw-dropping as the ones in several other counties, being so close to the state rates was enough to get a reaction from the audience. The biggest concern for the committee was the uncertainty around the curricula. As with other districts, members of this committee wanted to see what would be taught in these recommended programs. We’re working to provide additional information for our recommended curricula on our website, which would include lesson titles and objectives.

UPDATE: The committee voted to recommend the CHART abstinence-plus policy for school board approval.

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