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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Hillsborough district is not likely to pursue sex-ed funding



Grant funding for sex education?

Nothing is free, and teachers have enough to do, said Hillsborough County School Board member Candy Olson.

We can't be all things to all people, said Doretha Edgecomb.

Schools are supposed to teach kids how to read and write, said Stacy White.

And with that, the board essentially decided not to go after the grant from the Centers for Disease Control.

The process was more complicated than that. Edgecomb suggested an inhouse study of the district's sex education curriculum, and that issue will be on the agenda for the next board meeting.

But chairwoman April Griffin wanted to direct district leaders to express interest in the CDC grant program -- something they would have had to do by Oct. 25. and with no commitment to follow through. "We don't have to vote until February," she said.

Unlike her colleagues, Griffin feels passionately that the schools should meet this societal need. A firm believer in abstinence, she said compelling statistics on teen pregnancy and HIV leave the district little choice.

"I know that parents should have this conversation with their children in the home," she said. "But unfortunately, some parents aren't having that conversation and we as a community are suffering because of this. We are seeing our kids lost to diseases that cold be prevented. We are seeing young men and women trapped in a word of poverty because they are children having children. Occasionally we will see a pregnant teen walk across the stage but how many do we lose along the way?"

Her remarks did little to sway Edgecomb, who proposed that the issue be addressed through a community that would include teachers, administrators, parents, clergy and students; or Olson, who said that between Common Core and STEM, "I'm not sure our teachers are up for any more training now."

White, an avowed social conservative, said the information available about the grants was too vague for serious consideration.

But, he added, "I'm concerned with involving ourselves in family matters."

Both he and Edgecomb said it's not necessarily a lack of education that causes children to be sexually active and irresponsible.

White blamed an overall breakdown in morality -- children raised without guidance, children raised by the television.

"What we can do as individual board members is lead by example," he said.

When Griffin remarked later that she did not know what he was talking about, White listed eight examples. First among them: His wife, who has a masters degree, gave up a salary that would likely be $50,000 by now to be a full-time mother to the couple's three children.

Griffin, meanwhile, said that as the district continues to debate the need for armed security officers, this is the kind of holistic approach it needs to consider.

"We can talk about safety all day," she said. "But until we approach it from a comprehensive standpoint where we are giving them the tools to make healthy decisions, we will lose kids."

[Last modified: Wednesday, October 23, 2013 1:54pm]


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