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

January 14, 2003

I'm E.B. Hanlein, a retired teacher from and Novato Unified School District and the parent of three children who attended school in Novato. I spoke last August about my concern that showing the film, That's a Family, would take valuable time from classroom teachers who are mandated to cover the curriculum necessary to prepare their students and give them the tools for success. I applaud the Districts decision to limit the film, That's a Family, to the Family Life classes in the fifth grade as this should not take away from the main core of classes.

However, I must raise another objection…a classroom in a public school, in my opinion, is not the appropriate forum for material in this film. When were public schools authorized with the mission to teach family values and sexual lifestyles…especially to ten year olds? As a teacher I would feel extremely unqualified for this task. How would I answer the many questions prompted by the film? As a parent how would I know what was being imparted in the class discussion? There are some very controversial vocabulary used in crossword puzzles in the booklet…How in depth will teachers go to explain? I will be anxious to hear how the District will evaluate this pilot.

Respect is something that must be expected and when it is not practiced, those students (and in my career, there were few) must be dealt with by giving them some counseling, trying to understand their anger and giving them the appropriate tools to deal with their anger. Parents must be brought into the process to work with their troubled students. Teachers must be vigilant to see that there is zero tolerance for lack of respect.

There are so many challenges facing our schools to make them excellent. Having taught 7th grade medieval world history, I found that the students developed an understanding and appreciation for other cultures than theirs when we studied Islam, Buddhism, Judiasm and Christianity. I have always believed that knowledge can eliminate prejudice. Let's leave family issues with the family to impart their values. We must have faith in the family. The public school in my opinion is not the forum for family values and sexual life styles.

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