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Ayala: Texas needs a State Board of Education that isn’t repressed about reality

It’s colorful what has passed for sex education in Texas.

My classroom experience involving anything resembling sex education left me two memories. One involved an upper lip, the other a watermelon.

It was 1970 and I was in my seventh-grade class. Girls had been separated from the boys, and the physical education teacher at Truman Junior High in the Edgewood Independent School District had the task of terrorizing us.

The class must have covered more than what I remember, but this is what remains: The teacher spoke of what it was like to have a baby. She had had one, so she spoke from experience. She compared having sex, and thus getting pregnant and thus having a baby, to taking one’s upper lip and pulling it over one’s head, all the way back to the nape of one’s neck.

She offered another vivid description that compared giving birth

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Texas board OKs sex education policy update, but rejects push to acknowledge LGBTQ students

AUSTIN, Texas — New Texas sex education standards that include teaching about birth control, not just abstinence, starting in middle school, won final approval Friday from the State Board of Education.



a group of people sitting at a desk: Students at Gullet Elementary in North Austin in 2019 learn about the functions of a family as part of the Austin school district's human sexuality and responsibility curriculum.


© ANA RAMIREZ/Austin American-Statesman/TNS
Students at Gullet Elementary in North Austin in 2019 learn about the functions of a family as part of the Austin school district’s human sexuality and responsibility curriculum.

While overhauling the sex education curriculum, as part of revamping health standards for the first time in two decades, the board rejected a push to acknowledge LGBTQ students.

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Despite a strong push from Democratic board members, as well as 27 total hours of testimony from parents and students across three meetings this year, the Republican-controlled board rejected attempts to have curriculum standards define gender identity and sexual orientation.

The standards, which guide textbook content as well as instruction in the state, will go into effect

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Texas education board set to revise sex education curriculum

AUSTIN, Texas — In the first changes to the sex education curriculum in Texas in more than 20 years, the State Board of Education on Friday approved teaching middle schoolers about birth control but decided against providing students with information on consent, sexual orientation and gender identity.

The revisions consist of teaching seventh and eighth graders about the effectiveness of birth control in preventing pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections. Currently, only high schoolers get such lessons, though health courses aren’t required for graduation.

The new standards, which guide textbook content as well as instruction in public schools across the state, will go into effect in 2022. The board last updated the state’s sex education curriculum in 1997.

The board also approved teaching fifth graders about fertilization and sixth graders about sexual intercourse.

School districts in Texas aren’t required to offer sex education, but if they do, they’re required by state

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Texas Board Revises Sex Education Standards to Include More Birth Control

“Texas is a very diverse state, obviously, and the 200-plus rural school districts that I represent, I wanted to give them the freedom and the latitude to include some of those items in their curriculum, in their teaching, if they choose to do so,” he said at Friday’s meeting.

More than 20 hours of public comment, from across the political spectrum, were heard in June and September over revisions of the state’s health education standards. Ricardo Martinez, the chief executive of Equality Texas, an L.G.B.T.Q. advocacy group, testified multiple times ahead of Friday’s vote and said that excluding language about gender identity, sexual orientation and consent hindered students’ ability to navigate the world.

“You change hearts and minds by educating people about the lived experiences of those around them,” he said in an interview. “Robbing folks, especially at this age, from receiving their vital information of how you can make

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Berea school board backs effort to fix Ohio’s education funding formula

BEREA, Ohio — The Berea Board of Education at its Nov. 16 meeting passed a resolution endorsing the Fair School Funding Plan and urging state lawmakers to pass legislation aimed at fixing Ohio’s unconstitutional funding formula for education.

District Treasurer/CFO Jill Rowe presented the district’s five-year financial forecast to the board and indicated lawmakers are attempting to get the new funding law passed by Dec. 15.

“It’s very exciting news,” Rowe said. “In our current funding model, we’re compared (financially) to state averages and other school districts. This new model funds us locally and keeps the money here for our kids.”

The district currently receives $6,020 in state funding per student. If a child living in Berea, Brook Park, or Middleburg Heights attends a non-public school, however, Rowe said the per-student allocation is taken directly from the district’s bank account and given to the private/charter/community school.

The new state

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Olmsted Falls Board of Education names Brett Robson as new Treasurer/CFO

OLMSTED FALLS, Ohio — The Olmsted Falls Board of Education last night (Nov. 19) hired Brett Robson as the district’s new Treasurer/CFO.

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A Western Reserve Local Schools Treasurer for 17 years, Robson replaces Emily Weisbarth, who last month resigned to become assistant treasurer with Lakewood City Schools.

“The board is very excited about the hire,” said board president Holly Neumann. “Robson has excellent qualifications. He’s a very professional and experienced treasurer who will do a great job for us.”

Added Olmsted Falls City School District Superintendent Jim Lloyd, “I’m absolutely thrilled that the board was able to acquire someone of Brett’s experience and skill level. Olmsted Falls will be a better district with him as the CFO.”

Going into the search for a new treasurer, Neumann said the goal was to find an experienced leader to continue the district’s financial stability and security.

Olmsted Falls City Schools hired

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State Board of Education OKs new sex ed curriculum excluding LGBTQ youth, consent

The state Board of Education is inching closer to approving new sex education standards for the first time since the late ‘90s, giving initial approval on Wednesday to a curriculum that expands contraceptive education in middle school but declined to acknowledge LGBTQ individuals or define consensual sexual activity.

The 15-member, GOP-controlled board will vote on the curriculum for a final time on Friday.

The board’s November meeting is the culmination of a months-long process to update the state’s health curriculum, which included soliciting formal recommendations from groups of professionals and hearing more than 24 hours of public testimony on the subject. The updated standards — last revisited by the board in 1997 — will go into effect in 2022.

Wednesday’s discussion largely reiterated talking points that board members took up during their September meeting, when they first gave preliminary approval to the updated curriculum. The most heated debate concerned sexual

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Madison Board of Education chairwoman resigns

MADISON — Citing family and professional obligations, one of Madison’s top education officials — who faced plenty of challenges during her nearly three-year tenure — has decided to leave her post as chairwoman of the Board of Education but will stay on as a board member.

“I will continue to be engaged but just step back a little bit so I can attend to family and work,” said Katie Stein, who took up her post as chairwoman in February 2018. “It just feels like it’s time to take a step back and let somebody else do it.”

As a child-life specialist with Yale New Haven Hospital and a mother of four, Stein said she considered stepping down when the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

But then former Superintendent of Schools Thomas Scarice announced he was leaving the district.

Stein wanted to see Madison through the transition, she said — “The time didn’t

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Iowa Board of Education votes to limit student seclusion, restraint

The Iowa Board of Education has rescinded its current rules on student seclusion and restraint and replaced them with a more limited set of circumstances in which children can be confined at school.

Waiver requests for remote instruction are on the rise in Iowa

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The changes involve when children can be secluded, the size of the rooms they can be secluded in, and how schools should notify parents or guardians that their children were restrained.

The Board of Education’s unanimous vote Wednesday was a result of years of advocacy and three attempts in recent years to amend the state’s practices, which have sparked controversy because schools have used the rooms to hold students for a range of misbehavior and underreported how often they do.

In the lead-up to the 2020 election, all eyes are on Iowa. Get updates of all things Iowa politics delivered to

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Astronauts board SpaceX rocket for night launch, no Musk

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — Four astronauts climbed aboard a SpaceX rocket Sunday for a night ride to the International Space Station, with the prospects of good weather improving but the company’s leader sidelined by COVID-19.

Vice President Mike Pence planned to be at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center for the long-awaited start of regular crew rotations aboard privately owned and operated capsules. It also marked only the second time in nearly a decade that astronauts were set to rocket into orbit from the U.S.

“Game day!” NASA astronaut Mike Hopkins, the crew commander, tweeted before suiting up and heading to the launch pad in a Tesla Model X. The astronauts’ flashy white suits with black trim matched their rides, made by Elon Musk’s two main companies: SpaceX and Tesla.

Once seated in the Teslas, the astronauts exchanged high-fives and hand embraces with their children and spouses, who huddled at the

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