I believe in education. As proof I can point to the fact that I've spent a lot of money on education. Except for a handful of classes in a state university system, all of my undergraduate and graduate schooling was at private institutions that charged their necessary premium rates for tuition. As a note, the three private schools I attended were established respectively by Mormons, Quakers, and Presbyterians. 'Just couldn't help stepping into a religious environment I guess.
My brothers and I are the first generation in my family to complete postgraduate degrees, all from private schools.
I believe in teachers too. People used to call my Boss, "Rabbi," which means "my teacher." In fact, my professional title isn't "reverend," "pastor," or "minister." While those honorifics are not incorrect, my official title is Teaching Elder. And in the requirements of my tradition I not only had to earn a master's degree, I also had to pass a battery of five professional exams to prove I was prepared, among other things, to teach. To top it off, my job requires that I spend at least 20 hours every week doing nothing but study.
All that to say, it's not difficult for me to prove I value good education, and teaching. The operative word there is "good."
As a parent I've spent the usual amount of time tutoring my kids because they had a teacher who couldn't teach. And I've become pretty much immune to the usual assertions from our institutional education system that, given the freedom and resources to "educate," they can intercept and meliorate most of our nation's problems, including the dismal consequences of irresponsible sexual practices.
Governor Herbert delighted progressives and annoyed conservatives when he vetoed HB363, which would have redirected sex education in Utah's public schools toward abstinence-only curriculum.
I vividly recall the promises of 45 years ago that, if only teachers in the public education system were allowed to provide detailed sex education, the rise of sexually transmitted diseases and teenage pregnancy would be halted and reversed. School districts and PTAs were persuaded and sex education became broadly offered in schools across the nation.
The education has taken.
While the number of people contracting syphilis and gonorrhea has almost remained on a statistical plateau, the number of new cases in this country every year is still over 300,000. In the past 15 years the number of new cases of chlamydia has skyrocketed from 500,000 to over 1.25 million. Most men and women who contract AIDS still get the disease from sexual contact. Students are getting all the information in school that they need to be safe, but STDs continue to afflict millions.
And in spite of sex education, teenage women continued to get pregnant at an increasing rate. So, the solution from the same people who proposed sex education became abortion. Still, a huge percentage of children are born out of wedlock. In some segments of our society, the majority of babies are born to unwed mothers.
To be fair to those who think sex education is a panacea, they are struggling against a culture that is bombarded with the message that people should have sex with anyone or anything they want any time they want. Sex education is fighting a losing battle against culture.
Of course, if a person practices abstinence, STDs, AIDS, and crisis pregnancy cannot be a problem for them. There's no arguing that a person who limits their sexual contact to one partner with similar values, is practicing the safest sex of all.
The unfortunate fact of life (pun in intended) is that, if a school limits sex education to abstinence in the hope of arresting sexualized behavior, they will fail. The statistics prove that many young folks simply will not abstain in spite of being educated. If a school takes a prophylactic approach to fully inform students of all the risks associated with unprotected sex and promiscuity in the hope of preventing STDs, AIDS, and crisis pregnancies, they will fail.
Sex education in public schools has been one of the great program failures of the past 50 years.
Again, I believe in education. But when it comes to teaching the bird and the bees to children, professional educators who want to maintain their credibility, have got to limit their promises and expectations to what they can deliver.