NPFC member remarks as delivered to NUSD Board on 1/14/03 in regards to "That's a Family"

January 14, 2003

Good evening. My name is Abby Wong and I have 2 daughters attending Novato High School. I am speaking on behalf of NPFC - Novato Parents & Family Coalition.

I will be reading portions of the letter I just passed out. This letter is signed by me, along with 4 others, including E.B. Hanlein, Former Novato Teacher, Pam McCart, an RN and Former Family Life Teacher, Lybe Crumpton, a 5th grade teacher, and Kate Hoj, a 5th grade parent.

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.

Therefore, we request that the Novato Unified School District 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 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:

"keeping academic excellence paramount by helping ensure a safe and respectful school environment for all. As such, we of course support diversity awareness and only ask it be age-appropriate and respectful of our role as parents. In short, we are here first and foremost for our children."

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 website. A copy of this letter will also be posted to our website, www.NovatoParents.org.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

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