Good grief, what is it with Wisconsin teachers?

Here’s tale of another licensed by the DPI.

Comments

  1. El gato says:

    I don’t want anyone to think for a moment that I am making any excuses for an adult not doing the right things in life, but it should be at least a grave cause for concern among parents that their children are so active sexually. Years ago when I encouraged my sons to not ask girls to have sex, they told me “Heck, if we don’t ask for it, they will.” So many young women behave in the most slutty ways on spring break (think Girls Gone Wild) and seem to think it’s really “cool”. Parents must take computers out of kids rooms and put them in the family room where they can see that the kids aren’t on bad websites.

    As an adult male, I can tell you that I wouldn’t want to be a high school teacher and have to deal with the sexual teenagers! Some of these girls are not “the victim” in reality. Way back in 1955 I remember a young male teacher who was extremely handsome and all the girls talked about him. These days they would be trying to seduce him! Some of these 16 year olds are very mature in appearance and have the wiles of adults.

    We need to desexualize 0ur society and try to get some innocence back. I wonder if it’s possible? We take prayer out of school and then have classes to tell them that blowjobs may be hazardous to one’s health. Complete insanity!

  2. el Gato, I agree with until you get to the end. Someone has got to tell kids that blowjobs are not a party game. Evidently, some parents are not speaking up. Kids are doing it. Odds are, they are going to find other people doing it in social settings. Forewarned is forearmed; I would want my kids to recognize the situation for what it is and get the hell out of there.

  3. This is just plain creepy. I’m sure the union will go out of its way to protect him.

  4. And the best part is that abstinence-only sex education has failed us miserably!

    In an ideal world, no one would have sex unless it was completely appropriate and thought out.

    I live in the real world, and i’m a realist.

  5. Cheri M. says:

    As I understand it, many parents are unaware of what their kids, or grade-level peers, are doing. Add to that the response of some parents when informed what’s going on (“Not MY Johnny…!) and you’ve got administrators a bit caught between a rock and a hard place regarding informing parents. Not that that is an excuse. It is often difficult to do the right thing, sometimes even costly, but the right thing must be done.

    Now, as I understood it, Casey said 2 kids were doing it the bathroom. It would be difficult for a student who walked in on this to tell because the doers may be very aware of who the unsuspecting witness was. Thoughts of retaliation come to mind. Add to this the witnesses awareness that the adults may not take action, preferring to keep things quiet, and they’ll emulate these role models in pretending nothing happened.

    The problem is, if you don’t acknowledge a situation, it can’t be fixed.

  6. “Doing it in the bathroom…”

    Oh, dear. Do you think the district will address that anytime soon?

    Deplorable facilities with sex in the bathrooms. Makes a mother proud. Thanks Dr. Gibson!

  7. Pretty much anyone who is in school or was recently will tell you it should be taught comprehensively and early. We all know what is really going on with our peers, and I think some of the older people in the community are out of touch with reality.

    Leaving kids in the dark about something does not teach them or protect them against it. It just prolongs the inevitable train wreck.

    Maybe it’s entirely generational, but I think that you will find in the coming years we will pay the price for shutting our kids out of valuable information.

    Knowledge is power.

    We educate kids against alcohol, tobacco, drugs, sex, and other illegal and reprehensible acts from a very young age. Oral Sex is none different.

  8. Cheri M. says:

    Cindy,
    In this case, I don’t think any teacher or administrator was aware, and therefore I do not think it should be a reflection on the district.

    I know the teachers are pretty conservative on issuing potty passes, and I have discussed with my child the valid reason for this may be to avoid such hookups. She knows if she ever encounters this she is to leave immediately and find another restroom. If I could think of more the schools could do to avert this, I would come forward with the suggestions. I don’t think we can afford potty police.

    And despite my fondness for washing hands after restroom use, I do *not* want to volunteer to be the potty police! ;o)

    As a matter of record, I believe this student said she learned of this hookup 7th grade and it was 4 years before learning in HGD that this was a dangerous practice… meanwhile some more of the kids became involved in OS and thought they had one over on the parents and teachers and believed they had found a safe new game. She was, I believe, sad, disappointed, and concerned upon learning so much later that her peers been doing something very dangerous.

    Her point was to please get the word out NOT to do this. A very wise friend of mine has shared, “One good question to ask as far as a behavior or practice is, would you feel comfortable seeing or doing this in front of your parents or another trusted adult? If the answer is NO, then chances are, the behavior is not something the child should be doing. ” That’s a guidleine even the most squeamish of parents can share without specifically mentioning OS.

  9. I disagree that being “unaware” absolves those I trust to supervise my child all day long.

    And Shawn, we’ve had this debate ad naseum. We disagree about how a child should learn about sex. I think it’s a parental responsibility. You don’t.

  10. Cindy, your characterization is nauseating. I think parents should be responsible as the front line, but I don’t think we should let anyone fall through the cracks.

  11. Cheri M. says:

    Cindy, I agree with you in principle, however
    I think restrooms are a place where supervision could infringe on privacy? And who’d WANT to be the potty police? I’m afraid of the answer to that one!

    We’ve got a new breed of entitlement out there, and it’s entitlement to flagrantly misbehave, then decry the fact they could get away with it by blaming institutions or individuals but taking no responsibility for themselves.

    Middle school kids are old enough to be left on their own without supervision, outside of school. It is sad to think they regress in the relative safety of the school setting, to create unsafe scenarios.

  12. True, they are old enough to be unsupervised.

    Proclaiming that there’s sex taking place in school bathrooms is a bit of a slap that can’t be dismissed because 1) we didn’t know, 2) we can’t be everywhere, or 3) bathrooms are a place for privacy.

    Good grief! Kids were having sex in the bathrooms!

  13. At least it was in the bathroom. Some 7th graders were caught at Wirth Park pool having oral sex in the deep end last year, and I remember several stories about sex in stairwells.

  14. Cheri M. says:

    Parents and concerned citizens,
    I personally do not believe the kids are having sex out of innocence. I believe their motives can be very individual but in general may think it makes them an “adult”, they want attention, they want to get away with something, etc.

    There is a great book, available in student and parent (or teacher versions) called “Unmsaking Sexual Con Games”. It’s available through http://www.justsyyes.org.

  15. Milwaukee makes national news for a 49% graduation rate and 8th grade students who are the worst in the nation for reading skills and you trust them to teach kids about sex?

    Well, on second thought maybe like this guy, the teachers give “hands-on” sex education.

  16. Jack, it’s only 46%…

  17. Kathryn says:

    No, not out of innocence, but there is at least anecdotal evidence that they think certain acts don’t count.

  18. Casey McCall says:

    Hi everyone,

    Just to clear up any speculation. It’s amazing what googling my name and city brings up (Unfortunately this story was posted in more places than I expected). I found myself mentioned here and figured I could offer some clarification.

    I spoke in favor of discussing oral sex in the middle school HG & D curriculum. Long and short of it.

    When, in my opening statement, I said I first learned about oral sex from my peers when 2 kids were caught doing it in the bathroom in 7th grade. I will admit right up front that this could be pure speculation, but that isn’t the point. The point is that one person started saying it happened, and suddenly, by the end of the day, every kid at Pilgrim Park was talking about oral sex in the bathroom, and a fair amount of students (myself included) didn’t know what a BJ was. So, I had the pleasure of learning it from another 12 year old.

    Once the talk started, it didn’t die down much. Kids talked about how it was “easy” and “harmless” and “safe” and how it had no consequences. Our theory? “If the teachers aren’t talking about it, then it must not be sex, thus, there isn’t a problem with it.”

    In this case, what you don’t know CAN kill you. Between 7th and 10th grade… that 4 year gap was filled with kids talking about and having oral sex, having no IDEA that any STD can be spread orally, including deadly HIV. Sophomore year, we finally talked about it in class. oops. Too late.

    Personally, the idea of oral sex always seemed appalling to me, but from what I could tell, kids found the benefits of no possible pregnancy, etc. well worth any risks taken through this behavior. Of course, when we finally talked about oral sex in the classroom, I learned that many kids had different ideas of what it all entailed.

    I think parents might find it their own job, not the school’s, to talk to their kids about oral sex. There’s problems with that. First, there is no way to be sure that parents will EVER bring it up, they could just brush it under the table and ignore the issue. Second, we all know that talking sex with your parents (or your children) is just downright awkward in most situations… does anyone really want to talk or listen? Third, kids need to hear it from someone besides their parents. Let’s face it, parents. You guys were the ones who told us Santa was real and you hid our Easter baskets, claiming that a big-eared bunny just came into the house and did it for you. Kids don’t always listen to, or believe, what their parents are saying.

    I was not ready to learn about oral sex at age 12. I understand why you think your kid isn’t ready either. But, Shawn refreshingly added a touch of realism to the discussion. Whether or not they are ready, high risk sexual behavior is happening all around them, and they need to know every side of the story.

    Does anyone ever ask the STUDENTS what THEY think? How about the teachers? Considering Elmbrook’s kids are the ones whose futures we are discussing,let’s get them in on it. I was the only person under age 30 in the audience last night, and probably the only one to ever speak at a school board meeting in favor of this proposition.

    Ask some recent high school graduates what THEY think should happen in the middle schools and HG&D in general. They will know better than parents ever will. But no one seems to value the opinion of the ones who matter most. Quite simply put, that’s disturbing to me.

  19. Cheri M. says:

    Yes, unfortunately, many may think certain acts don’t count. Well, let me be the first to address the kids directly:
    “Oral sex” IS sex. That’s why it has the word “sex” in it. “Anal sex”? Guess what, that’s sex, too. It also has the word “sex” right in it. See the pattern? Guess what else? It’s illegal for minors to engage in sex. There’s a reason why. You may be doing eachother great bodily harm. Passing diseases. Short-circuiting the process of learning to build a meaningful relationship, both now and in the future. And there are other consequences too… some go to jail, some are registered as sex offenders. You know it’s wrong or you wouldn’t be sneaking around to do it. Usually things that are wrong as considered wrong because they will hurt you. Adolescent sex will hurt you. May not know it right away, symptoms may be delayed until it is too late. Some of the sexually transmitted infections will go away if you see a doctor, are diagnosed, and treated. But many will not go away, they will be with you for life. Walk away at the first sign of temptation.

    And even if you do not know the name of the sexual contact someone is describing to you, if it involves body parts normally covered by a swim suit, it is sex.

  20. Casey, thanks. You know I love to read what you write. Also, thanks for clearing up “sex in the bathroom.” I’m happy to believe it was a rumor.

    About asking the kids – I think it would be a great idea to ask the sophomore health classes what there opinion is on this one. It’s hard to be a safety net for every child on this issue. We use the bell curve for everything else – is it safe to say that we should catch 70% of the ages of students as surveyed from that 10th grade health class? I could live with that.

    You found out at 12, but say you weren’t ready. Couldn’t something like that story happen in grade school? Would the risk of hearing about it in grade school mean the district should teach about it there?

  21. I don’t understand this “ready to find out” rhetoric.

    We find out about murder, injustice, sex, butt sex, cigarettes, torture, and other gross things before we ever should. We say naughty words and do naughty things before we ever should. It’s a part of life.

  22. Cheri M. says:

    Casey,
    Thanks for taking the time to reiterate. We’ll see it again on the cable station when the board meeting airs.

    What’s amazing to me, is the power of a rumor… (such as OS in the restroom) to spread quickly and influence the subsequent actions of others, meanwhile sharing the true facts of disease, etc spread slowly. It is unfortunate that kids deem other kids be medical experts and also a credible source of information… and seek out no other sources.

    We are aware that some students still choose to drink and use drugs after taking DARE class. So it seems likely that some students will choose to engage in other risky behaviors after being advised against them.

    Just to clarify, there were student reps at the HGD meetings, and student reps at the Board meeting last night. They were all asked for, and supplied, their input.

  23. Yes Shawn, but those things aren’t written into a curriculum that reviewed by a group of parents.

    It’s a fair element for discussion given the board is making a decision as to when to introduce the subject. They don’t debate when to tell the children about murder. I think they do decide when to tell about cigarettes, though.

  24. Cheri M. says:

    Cindy,
    Sophomores have provided input.

  25. Well, do tell. What did they say?

  26. Cheri M. says:

    As with all of this, a broad spectrum of answers.

  27. Nothing was quantified? If I were to ask for these responses, what magic words would I use with the district?

    (Of course, it’s all much easier if you have a copy.)

  28. Cheri M., I’ve heard of research that suggests that drug use goes for those who graduated from a DARE program. Needless to say, I didn’t.

    And on rumors, humans are social creatures. Rumors are part of our communication and nature. I don’t think they are great but it’s true.

    Cindy, my point is that shielding a kid for 1 or 2 more years is more likely to help them be protected instead of blindsided by the issues.

    Casey and I disagree on a lot of things but she’s demonstrated the most coherent reason for or against oral sex. She’s 100% on the mark.

  29. Kathryn says:

    I have an in-house barometer. I ask. The responses start at “what?”and move to “ewww” and later to “yes, but mostly jokes.” The first two readings get a simply perfunctory response–basic information that is mostly irrelevant to the child. The last response gets the talk.

  30. Casey McCall says:

    To me, this isn’t about readiness. It’s about reality.

    I did leave before the post-discussion last night, but that’s why I specified “only one under 30 in the audience” as I did notice the student reps sitting with the board.

    Students certainly have engaged in risky behaviors after being advised against them. But remember, this proposition isn’t saying oral sex is an absolute, horrible, inexcusable thing kids should never do, nor is it a guide to oral sex for kids. It’s about putting information out there for them to learn.

    Cheri, you are correct in that sophomores have provided input. I am curious to see what that data will say, but at the same time, if it was a mass survey… kids will say what they think you want them to say.

    I spent a fair amount of last semester working in a middle school in MPS. If there’s one thing I know, it’s that kids aren’t stupid. I don’t think the board debates when to tell children about murder because it seems irrelevant, even though any kid who catches a glimpse of the primetime news knows what murder is. I learned about drugs and alcohol in DARE in the 5th grade. No one seemed hesitant to discuss those adult issues with a 10 year old.

  31. Cheri M. says:

    The HGD meetings are informal, not taped, just a lot of discussion, always a broad range of opinions. At the board meeting last night, those who’ve attended one or more HGD meetings commented on the great mutual respect, cooperation, civility, etc shown during HGD meetings. There’s no dirt to dig up here.

  32. Cheri M. says:

    Casey, I agree with and/or accept everything you say. Iand I want to add that I think you are a remarkable young lady, very strong, very bright, very observant and caring. Thank you for sharing your story.

  33. Wait, wait, wait. How did we get from asking what the Sophomores had to say to digging up “dirt?”

    Can someone please share what these 10th graders said? I feel like the only kid on the block without the details…

    Kathryn, I used about the same method. We’re parents with our own children, though, not a school board making broad decisions. It breaks my heart to think that “the talk” will come for some when there’s still an innocence that could be preserved.

  34. Kathryn says:

    Middle school is quite the transition: children in, young adults out. The children need protecting, the adolescents need information. I think eighth grade is probably the right place to approach this subject.

  35. Kathryn says:

    Opt out is always an option. Students are in and out of classes all day. No one would notice one more or less. I even had one switched to a different classroom for just one lesson so that the teacher would be of the same gender.

  36. While I appreciate Shawn and Casey (and others) being involved in these discussions, I can’t help but point out that they are not parents. Object if you like, but the fact is that opinions change once you become a parent. I look at back on my years as a new teacher and cringe when I think of some of the silly advice I gave to the parents of my students. It certainly wasn’t intentional…I simply didn’t know any better, because I was not a parent myself. Now that I am, I understand the subtle differences in maturity between an 11-year old and a 13-year old. (All three of mine have late birthdays…so in 6th grade, they will only be 11 – not 12!)
    It may seem clichĂ©, but just because others are doing it doesn’t mean it is right. Just because there are some families that do not monitor their child’s exposure to mature topics (like murder, cigarettes, torture and sex) does not mean that those topics are automatically fair game for everyone. As a parent, you understand that NO ONE knows your child better than you do, and there are many of us out here who work very hard at making sure our children are not exposed to material that conflicts with our family’s values or is inappropriate for their age/level of understanding/level of maturity. Why should all of those years of dedicated parenting be thrown out the window just because a few choose to shirk their responsibly? Parents ignore talking about sex with their children because WE ALLOW THEM TO – by shifting responsibility to the schools. As a society, we continue to enable these behaviors by de-emphasizing personal responsibly. Believe me, our schools would be much further ahead in decreasing teen/pre-teen sex if they taught the concept of “personal responsibility” in lieu of the finer points of gratification.

  37. Libby, you truly do seem like a good parent who cares. That’s truly wonderful for your kids, and i’m not questioning your parenting for a moment.

    However, as an educator, it is the job of the district to educate students on the risks and dangers that are out there.

    If a parent is involved enough to care whether or not the district teaches this stuff, they are probably involved enough to have them opt out. That’s your “personal responsibility” as a parent.

    You make a passionate argument, “Why should all of those years of dedicated parenting be thrown out the window just because a few choose to shirk their responsibly?”

    But it falls apart when I remember that opting out is easy and that no one who opted out was ever teased or looked on wrongly. No once is forcing you or your kids. And no one cares if you opt out. Heck, the teacher is probably glad there is one less rascal to look after.

    Indeed, no one is throwing away your parenting. If you don’t want your children involved in the curriculum, then simply have them opt out, just as you can have cable stations blocked on the tv etc. It’s your personal and parental responsibility.

    Even though I am not a parent I do offer a unique viewpoint. Parents like to idealize the situation that is happening with their children growing up.

    I know reality. I know lots of kids who are supposedly “good kids” who are doing “bad stuff” and their parents have no clue, even though they think they are very good parents. And they have had no education about this because their parents want to protect them.

    Just as it would be unfair to force your kids to learn this, it is unfair to deprive my (hypothetical) kids of this opportunity to learn.

  38. “However, as an educator, it is the job of the district to educate students on the risks and dangers that are out there.”

    Who says it’s the responsibility of the public schools? I thought they were there to teach academics. Naive ain’t I? But notice how the young accept the premise of what “big brother’s” responsibilities are.

  39. I was reminded this morning of the Principal who was killed while trying to disarm a student with a pistol. What’s with some of our Wisconsin teachers is noble and self-sacrificing.

  40. Yes, Kathryn, some are and some aren’t. It’s a responsibility of the system to eliminate those who are not from contact with out children.

  41. Cheri M. says:

    Cindy,
    Please accept my apology. I was rushed and in a hurry to get out the door to a concert my child was in. I “imagined” people may think the committee had something definitive from students and was disregarding their input.

    I think you provide very good investigative work. I think your work is, on balance, a strong positive for the community. You are a great watchdog! But like any of us, can be appear overzealous at times. When you’re barking up the wrong tree, I will communicate that offline.

    Libby, Kathryn, Cindy, Shawn, Casey
    I agree 100% about “teaching moments” for our children. I also agree that some parents, for whatever reason may miss the teachable moment. It does not come with age or grade level. There are so many factors at play.

    Please get a copy of the parent/teacher edition of “Unmasking Sexual Con Games” by Kathleen M. McGee and Laura J.Buddenberg, Boys Town Press. One place it is available is http://www.justsayyes.org Let me know what you think after reading it.

    Opt Out is not always as smooth as people might like it to be, and children do get noticed. I’ve been wondering wether middle school HGD could be offered on a quarterly basis, as ACE electives are. That might make opt out easier while providing “alternate curriculum” at the same time.

  42. Oh, no doubt. After some very disturbing conversations, it’s nice to remember the pluses.

  43. “Parents ignore talking about sex with their children because WE ALLOW THEM TO – by shifting responsibility to the schools. ”

    Libby, you caught my attention with this comment. I will be mulling this over for a while.

  44. I have to agree with El Gato, Shawn. It is NOT public schools’ “responsibility” to educate children about the risks and dangers in the world. In a nutshell, there are simply too many.

    What about the dangers of riding in a boat with out a life jacket? Should we include a boating safety course in the school day? It is very dangerous to dig where there could be underground power lines. Should we ask teachers to take time out of reading/math/science curriculum to have kids memorize the number to digger’s hotline? Walking on thin ice is another risky activity. Should all students have an introduction to ice safety? I know these examples sound ridiculous, but the point is that a school can not possibly be all things to all people.

    The REAL danger comes in the false belief that by switching responsibility to the schools, the education received will be all-encompassing, accurate and complete.
    Let me give you a recent example. My son is a 4th grader. Just prior to Spring Break, his grade-level participated in the first HG&D “talk” – during the regular school day with boys separated from girls. The note home said parents could attend, so my husband did. He was the only parent attending the boys portion of the lecture. The majority of what was covered addressed signs of puberty and personal hygiene. A movie was shown with that intent, but there was a very brief portion that mentioned “wet dreams” and introduced the function of the sperm meeting the egg. After the movie, a brief discussion ensued, with NO MENTION of the wet dream or sperm-meeting-egg portion of the film. After the discussion, students were encouraged to submit questions in written form after being warned that only “certain” questions would be answered. None of the questions chosen addressed the wet dream or sperm-meeting-egg concepts that had been introduced in the film. So, at the end of it all…these 4th grade boys were introduced to the idea of wet dreams and sperm meeting egg without any follow-up. Since there were no other parents attending the lecture, it is likely that most have no idea these concepts were even introduced – possibly leaving their children more confused/uncertain now than before.

    Giving control to a separate entity means losing control.

  45. Libby, I agree. Was there any request for parent feedback? It would seem that the school district may want to update their letter to parents to include a list of topics that will be in the video.

  46. Quotable,
    I do not recall a request for parent feedback.

  47. Libby,

    I understand your concern as a parent, and you are correct in that Shawn and I are not parents. However, please understand that our input is just as valuable because we walked these halls with your children in recent years. We grew up in this system and have not been out of it long. Rather than playing guessing and/or cover up games of what really happens in the schools, Shawn and I knew how it was and know how it is. We are trying to open eyes by saying “hey, this really happens, and yes, kids really get hurt.” I think we are all working towards the same goal: health and safety of the children in this district. But alas, our methods of meeting it are different.

    Not to sound crass, but kids can’t go boating without life jackets or digging for power lines in a school bathroom or stairwell. They are addressing something that really happens in the schools.

    Human Growth and Development is a standard part of various grade levels in the Elmbrook health/science curriculum and it has been since my brother and I were in the elementary schools back in the early 90’s. This isn’t introducing a new concept or radical change to the education; it’s tacking something else on to what is already taught.

    It’s frustrating that some questions go unanswered, as you mentioned. A friend of mine noted recently that back in 8th grade, when a student asked the teacher about oral sex during HG&D, the did not answer it, citing that they couldn’t because it was not part of the curriculum. Seeing as some kids were already doing it in 8th grade, why shouldn’t they know the risks?

    I think it’s tough to let the district take over teaching such touchy and personal subjects such as this. In the same respect, there are lots of parents who will neglect, whether intentionally or not, to tell their children about this if another responsible adult doesn’t do it first.

  48. “…lots of parents who will neglect, whether intentionally or not, to tell their children about this if another responsible adult doesn’t do it first”

    Casey,

    That is my entire point. We allow parents to neglect it, because we have given them the impression that if they don’t address it someone else will simply pick up the slack at school. If the curriculum was taken out of the schools and responsibility was put back on the home, then parents would know they have no one other than themselves.

    HG&D curriculum has been around a lot longer than you can imagine. I still recall being in the music room (with my parents…because they were at least REQUIRED to attend back then) when I was in 6th grade in the late 70’s. Ready for a shock? Having sex in the back stairwells of our schools is not new to your “generation.” The same rumors swirled when I was at East in the ’80’s. So we are talking about over 30 years of HG&D curriculum in the schools that I am aware of. Looking back, can we honestly say that it has helped? If awareness is the cure…are we seeing a significant decrease in sexual activity among teenagers/pre-teens? Evidently not, since you and others are arguing that it needs to be addressed in the schools because it is so prevalent.

    We must hold parents accountable for their children’s education…and we must teach children to be accountable for their actions.