In recent commercials, Jack O' Connell, the California State Superintendent of Public Education has made some interesting comments with which I, as an educator and citizen of this great state, would like to take issue. As a teacher of English Language Arts, it is my job to instruct students in the use of language, and to explore its uses in written or verbal communication. Here is what I have discovered in the sophistry of Mr. O' Connell's remarks:
Mr. O' Connell states, "Proposition 8 has nothing to do with schools or kids. Our schools aren't required to teach anything about marriage." I suppose that Mr. O' Connell is making this statement based on an argument over semantics within the California Teaching Content Standards. It is true, to my knowledge, that there is nothing in the actual wording of the content standards that says "requires" in connection to the word "marriage." But there are a lot of standards that would lead to the teaching of marriage in public schools, which, in fact, are required. Furthermore, it is preposterous to think that Mr. O' Connell really knows what is going on in each school district across the state of California and within the individual school sites and classrooms. Each district, while conforming to the standards, creates its own curriculum in connection to the standards. Each district adopts its own textbooks and creates its own pacing guides which cover specific standards and themes. How can he claim that some districts do not have themes dealing with family and marriage? Has he visited each district and reviewed the individual documents? Furthermore, textbook publishers will be pressured to include works dealing with same-sex marriage by special interest groups who will undoubtedly sue the textbook publishers for discrimination if they refuse to include such diversity (we have already seen them sue other individuals who have been opposed to their position--see the link to the NPR article on my previous blog).
The proof of Mr. O' Connell's errors may be found from his own website. Granted, it will take a lot of digging in order to find the information that you are searching for (which the average voter will not be willing to do). As such, I have done a little, though not entirely exhaustive, digging myself. If we explore the document "HEALTH EDUCATION CONTENT STANDARDS FOR CALIFORNIA PUBLIC SCHOOLS (Kindergarten through Grade 12)" we will discover the following standard for Grade 1: "Describe how members of a family have various roles, responsibilities, and individual needs" (Standard 1.1.G.4). While this standard does not mention marriage, it does mention the role of family members, which implies marriage, and will lead to a discussion on the roles of mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, and etc. If same-sex marriage is passed, this will include the teaching of two mothers or two fathers in the roles of families. Either Mr. O' Connell is not aware of this state standard or he chooses to play ignorant over what it really means. If he is not aware, then he is simply uninformed with the falsehood he has made in his latest commercial (which is completely irresponsible of a public official). If he is aware of the standard, then he is straight lying to the people of California (which is completely shameful and a cause for removal from office). Other standards that do not explicitly say "marriage" but would lead to its discussion include: Grade 3, Standard 3.2.M.5, which states, "Describe internal and external factors that affect friendships and family relationships," Grade 5, Standard 5.1.G.6, which states, "Recognize that there are individual differences in growth and development, body image, and gender roles." and others include Grade 5 standards 5.1.G.7 and 5.2.G.11; Grade 7/8 standards 7/8.1.G.8, 7/8.2.G.15, and 7/8.5.G.30. And these are just a few within the Health Education strand. If we were to look at the History standards and the English Language Arts standards, we will not find anything that states "marriage" in the standards themselves, but an event such as adopting same-sex marriage will be one that is considered important enough to adopt into history books (thus being taught in public schools) and will be justified in reading materials for language arts (if parents object to stories that contain characters involved in same-sex marriage, they will have no right to act on their objection because it is state law). These stories could be introduced at any grade level and nobody would have a right to object. I have a friend who teaches 2nd grade who has informed me that she has already come across such a story in a supplemental reading book. While the story is not mandatory to read, there would be nothing that parents could do if a teacher chose to read such a selection. Hence, while the opposition to prop 8 claims that it will not be "mandatory" to teach same-sex marriage in public schools, they knowingly cannot say that it will not be taught in public schools. The reality is that some classrooms will teach it while others will not. If your child happens to be in one of the classrooms that teaches it, you have no right to object.
Furthermore, same-sex marriage will be taught in lessons dealing with tolerance. Unfortunately, there will be no tolerance for those who are opposed to the practice. Students will be taught that anyone who expresses disapproval over the practice would be considered intolerant, ignorant, hateful, and a bigot (I've already been branded such by people who oppose my views. I do not call them such names because I am respectful of other people's points of view. It is unfortunate that so many who claim to be advocates of tolerance are, in fact intolerant to dissenting points of view).
Needless to say, same-sex marriage will radically change the fundamentals of our society. Opponents of prop 8 claim that same-sex marriage will not affect anyone. They are wrong. Use your reason and inform yourself on the issue and VOTE YES ON PROP 8.