NPFC member remarks as delivered to NUSD Board on 8/20/02

Good evening.  My name is Abby Wong.  My family has lived in Novato for 3 years and I will have 2 daughters attending Novato High this upcoming school year, a senior and a freshman.

I am a member of the Novato Parents & Family Coalition.  NPFC is a newly-formed, grassroots group of concerned families and citizens .... 

While we, as parents, support diversity awareness, we’re opposed to the approval or use of the “That's A Family” video or other such controversial materials in the future.  We agree with the comments attributed to Trustee Schwarze in the August 11 issue of the Marin IJ, and I quote: “As an educator who believes in teaching the “essentials,” Schwarze thinks class time should be used to build a strong educational foundation in the basics, not to teach social issues topics better left to parents at home.”

As the mother of two high school students, I want my daughters to have the best education possible. Academic excellence has always been important in my family as it is in most Chinese families.  My parents immigrated from China and had a difficult time making ends meet.  They wanted a better life for their kids, and instilled in us the importance of doing well in school and of getting a good education.  Now, my husband and I are instilling this in our children.  We have two girls who not only enjoy school, they excel in their studies.  Both our daughters are straight A students and we are very proud of them.  In fact, our older daughter had a GPA of 4.33 her junior year and our younger daughter was the valedictorian of her graduating class.  We believe that the introduction of any such controversial diversity materials will be a distraction in the classroom and do not feel that they are appropriate.

We, as parents, strongly agree with Trustee Schwarze that social issues topics are better left to parents at home.  It is the responsibility of parents to teach their children about caring and respecting other people, not to name call or put others down.  I’ve spoken to other parents about this, at my workplace and my neighborhood, and they are in agreement.

On the issue of the opt out policy, we agree with what Trustee McAlpin was quoted as saying in the August 11 issue of the Marin IJ.  “Parents and students are relying on us as a district to be presenting material and information that is reasonably accepted by a broad group of the community.”  As we have seen with the petition drive, having received 1200+ signatures in only 12 days via word of mouth, there is strong opposition to any such controversial diversity materials.  There should not be a need to opt out of subjects being taught in the classroom.  If controversial diversity materials are needlessly approved for the classroom, then you are not doing your jobs, and you will be held accountable.

Thank you.

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