Our requests to NUSD Board
about "That's A Family"
January 14, 2003
Novato Unified School District (NUSD)
Dear NUSD Board Members, Dr. Bernard & Dr. Derby:
This letter concerns the pilot of "That's A Family." No doubt, all interested and affected parents and families were not able to attend the Jan. 9th parent presentation. Also, we do not believe the brief narrative summary, which the board decided upon during the December 17 board meeting, will convey enough information to those who could not attend.
Therefore, we request that NUSD send all 5th Grade parents the "Handout" pages from the "That's A Family" Guidebook. Those handouts contain a verbatim transcript of the key parts of the video, and as such, will be very helpful to all 5th Grade families.
We also request that a separate "opt in" form be sent to all 5th Grade parents instead of the usual "opt out" form. The "opt in" form can be modeled after the permission slip used by Novato High School to "opt in" freshmen for the Unity in Diversity Day, held on November 19, 2002.
In a nutshell, we believe that "That's A Family:" contains some material that may be offensive on racial grounds; may raise some personal or emotional issues that might not be well-suited for a classroom setting; contains some material not consistent with abstinence outside of marriage; and includes some content that is not age-appropriate and/or not helpful to, or respectful of, our role as parents. We have also attached a one-page information sheet outlining those key concerns about "That's A Family." It could be used instead of, or in addition to, the Handout pages.
For the record, we do appreciate the NUSD Board's decision to limit the pilot test of "That's A Family" to the 5th Grade Family Life Classes. However, we believe --- as supported by a significant number of Novatoans and as explained in our August 2002 public comments --- that "That's A Family" is not consistent with the common ground and broad appeal of our stated purpose:
In addition, here are some examples of questions that will continue to arise in the weeks and months ahead:
NPFC has offered and will continue to offer to meet with any Novatoans who would like to discuss any of these matters. See our Principles for Public Dialogue of August 20, 2002 on our web site. A copy of this letter will also be posted to our web site --- www.NovatoParents.org.
Thank you for your time and consideration. You can contact us as noted above.
Sincerely and on behalf of NPFC,
Original, incl. attachment, to all addressees
Attachment to NPFC's Letter of January 14, 2003 to NUSD Board
Information Sheet Outlining Key Concerns about "That's A Family"
It contains material some have found or may find objectionable for one or more reasons. For example:
Here is an overview of some things which many have found or may find objectionable:
It creates needless controversy ... there can be no dispute that this video and guidebook are controversial. So, one key question has to be, is this controversy unavoidable and in the best interests of our children's academic education? We believe it is neither unavoidable nor in the best interests of our children. There are many, non-controversial and age-appropriate materials to help teach respect for all. Therefore, everyone's time and energy would be better spent on specifically and precisely documenting and defining what, if any, additional materials and classroom time are needed to address what, if any, specific, precise, and additional problems within NUSD. See the Novato Parents & Family Coalition (NPFC) August 2002 petition, our Principles for Public Dialogue, and our public comments at the Aug. 20 meeting at our web site ... www.NovatoParents.org. You may contact us via npfc@NovatoParents.org.