Schools dragged into marriage debate

Whether you’re a campaign hack or just selling a home alarm system (or tires, or antidepressants, or disinfectant), scare tactics can really come in handy. And there’s probably no easier way to freak people out than to make them think their kids will be in harm’s way if they don’t vote a certain way or buy a certain product.

National Public Radio did a story yesterday about how education has become swept up in the California campaign for Proposition 8, the same-sex marriage ban. Here’s the TV ad that prompted the story, followed by a response from State Superintendent Jack O’Connell.

Here is how O’Connell responded:

Do you think Prop. 8’s defeat — or passage — would have any real impact on education in California?

Katy Murphy

Education reporter for the Oakland Tribune. Contact me at kmurphy@bayareanewsgroup.com.

  • sue

    I find it interesting that the education code that Yes on 8 keeps quoting states that students will be taught “respect for marriage and commited relationships.”

    To me, interpretation of such a statute would imply that even if prop 8 passes and same sex marriage is not legal, respect for commited relationships aka domestic partnerships would still be taught. In other words, prop 8 passing or failing makes no difference under this code.

  • Sue

    Hmmm. Apparently there’s more than one of us using “Sue” as a handle. The one above isn’t me, a long-time poster around here. I’m the one with a 16-y-o at Skyline in a full-inclusion Spec. Ed. program, and an 11-y-o GATE kid at Montera.

    Hello, new Sue. Would you mind terribly adding an initial (or something) to your handle, so it’s easier for everyone to tell which of us is which.

    Thanks, and welcome to Katy’s education blog.

    By the way, the Yes-on-8 folks are talking about Mass. law. CA law doesn’t include teaching anything about marriage at all. But you’re right, whether Prop. 8 passes or fails, CA education law won’t change.

  • Turner

    “Do you think Prop. 8’s defeat — or passage — would have any real impact on education in California?”

    CTA seems to think so. They have sunk $1.25 million into the No on 8 campaign.


  • Jon Simon

    Prop 8 supporters will lie outright and happily twist truth to get their way. When you lack compassion and are filled with hatred and fear, nothing seems out of bounds. Any good teacher teaches that hatred is wrong and to respect others.

    As for the CTA, they protect their own members and children, which includes people of all sexual orientations.

  • E.A. Soldahl

    Subject: The Mayor, The Superintendent & The Kids…

    What an irony… just two days after the “No on 8″ television commercial began airing with the Califormia Superintendent of Schools, Jack O’Connell, dismissing “Yes on 8″ commercials as lies, stating it will have “nothing to do with education”, a first grade public school class in San Francisco was taken on a field trip to a lesbian wedding at City Hall, officiated by Mayor Gavin Newsom.

    School officials said they wished to provide their five and six year old students a “teachable moment.”

    “Liz Jaroslow, the school’s interim director, told The San Francisco Chronicle that the field trip was “a teachable moment,” and said she believes the field trip was justified academically. ”

    The rationale that a teacher should determine what is justified morally to our children, is why parents want it made clear that we will no longer accept the brainwashing and taking of our children. We are the employing taxpayers. We will shift our children to private schools, start charter schools, home school, petition, file for tax abatements and vouchers and shed light upon this darkness now consuming our society. We will also Vote “Yes” on proposition 8 for a start.

    Whatever happened to the Planetarium?
    E.A. Soldahl
    October 24, 2008
    Oakland, CA

  • Jon Simon

    The horror! The horror! They’re all going to turn out gay now. Let’s keep hating!

    Oh wait, sexual orientation isn’t a choice. It’s just how people are. Never mind then.

  • Sue

    Wait, E.A.

    That’s not my understanding – the teacher didn’t invite the students to her wedding. But, she’s very popular with her students and their families, and they decided to show up and surprise her.

    Since the kids were all going to be taken out of school anyway, the administration decided to make it a field trip – my guess would be that they didn’t want the school’s Average Daily Attendence to take a hit for the entire class having unexcused absences for the day. If I have it right, the administration’s “field trip” decision is questionable.

    But the idea that schools are going to change their teaching based on Prop. 8 passage or failure is still nonsense. Nothing is currently being taught about marriage, and nothing in Prop. 8 changes education law. When anything related to human reproduction or sexuality is going to be taught (in science/biology classes or P.E./health classes) there’s a notice sent home ahead of time so parents can opt out for their kids.

    My sons are in 11th and 6th grade and have attended OUSD schools only – we always get the opt-out notices. If other folks don’t have the same experience, I’d suggest they first check their kid’s backpacks more carefully, then check with the teacher and the principal.

    And I’m in a particularly grumpy mode on this topic. I’m going to be spending my lunch hour on a Muni bus (do we all know how awful Muni is?) to go get replacement yard signs. Mine were stolen on Saturday.

    I guess the “haters” don’t have a problem with trespassing, property damage (they stomped down my lavender border getting to one sign and I’m furious about that!), theft, or abrogating the First Amendment rights of people they disagree with.

    Interesting morals.

  • John

    The CTA sunk $1.25 million into the No on 8 campaigns!? If CA educators didn’t take an informal ‘gay-lesbian etc. loyalty oath’ when becoming teachers, there might be some upset among the two – possibly three – closet homophobic teachers who don’t want their involuntary teacher dues supporting non-homophobic issues and candidates.

    Oh yeah, a teacher friend got an infection from the stick pin on her “NO ON 8″ button. I told her to apply Neosporin, any other suggestions?

  • Sue

    Put the pin in clothing, not in flesh.

  • John

    Sue! That’s what I keep tellin em! But they’re too excited about ‘body advertising’ NEA/AFT issues to pay proper attention to detail.

    By the way Sue, I know how you feel about someone with the ‘same first name’ posting on Katy’s blog. It happened to me too! I’ve been hunting for the other John ever since, but haven’t been able to track him down! It’s tough for folks like us with so many Johns and Sues floating around out there!

    ‘First come first name pecking order’ principles aside. Maybe we should change our screen names to
    ‘Sp Ed John’ & ‘Sp Ed Sue?’ I think it would also be good for our relationship, don’t you?

  • Teri Gruenwald

    This is in response to E.A. Soldahl. The school in question is a charter school in SF, not a regular public school. The teacher neither planned nor organized it, and was very surprised. The parents were the ones who organized the field trip. And two families opted out, which is their right.

    I bet those parents who organized and participated in what at first was a heartwarming expression of support and love, on some level, regret their decision to do this because now their children are being used as ammunition to promote discrimination. Yesterday, parents of two of the kids held a press conference because the Yes on 8 campaign is using their children’s images in an ad without their prior consent. The parents have issued a statement insisting that the Yes on 8 website immediately remove their children’s images from the video. Here is the link: http://www.noonprop8.com/headlines/outraged-parents-demand-that-commercial-be-taken-off-the-air-immediately/

    I checked the Yes on 8 website, and the video is still there. If my children were being used so vilely to promote a cause I find so deeply offensive, I would be suing the Yes on 8 campaign.

  • John

    Teri: Using children’s images to promote the ‘YES on 8’ agenda without prior parental consent is certainly
    a matter of serious concern, even if as claimed such pictures are in the public domain and their publication is not a violation of law.

    I’m saddened to see such blatant disregard for ‘prior consent’ in connection with this same sex marriage issue!

    In an even more egregious example of disregard for prior consent, the California Supreme Court, on May 15th, imposed same sex marriage through judicial fiat, in spite of the prior consent of the voter majority that rejected it eight years prior with their approval of Proposition 22. One of the Justices, Marvin Baxter, wrote in his dissenting opinion that although he agrees with the majority’s conclusions, the court was overstepping its bounds in striking down the ban. Instead, he wrote, “the issue should be left to the voters.”

    Yes indeed Teri, the blatant disregard for ‘prior consent’ on this issue should be a matter of grave concern for, among others, the above parents and a majority of California voters.