Paradise Valley Curriculum Development Secrecy Questioned

Parents in the Paradise Valley Unified School District are reaching out to Governing Board president, Dr. Sue Skidmore, in an effort to “have open and honest dialogue with parents” regarding changes to the 10th grade Human and Growth Development curriculum.

Paradise Valley Unified School District (PVUSD) superintendent, James Lee, has come under fire for creating a committee to discuss the proposed curriculum. Parents say they have been left out of the process, which has been described on one conservative blog as secretive.

“Reports are that a select group of teachers and administrators of PVUSD have been holding secret meetings to discuss changing the Human and Growth Development at the 10th grade level. This is alarming news considered that the curriculum seems to include re-defining Gender/Sex roles. The elected school board and all the parents and public should have been part of creating input, and been notified that these new radical changes in social policy and adolescent discussions were taking place,” reads the post entitled Paradise Valley Unified School District Changes Social Policy in Secret.

Arizona statute A.R.S. §15-341, outlines the mandatory duties of school boards including the duty to review and approve “curricula and criteria for the promotion and graduation of pupils.”

“It has been said that sunshine is the best disinfectant, especially with government institutions,” reads the Politics Arizona blog post. “When parents send their kids to a government funded school, they expect to be fully informed about what is being taught to the children under their care. Paradise Valley School district should have an open discussion about these new changes. Many parents will be upset knowing they were kept out of the process. Ignoring almost the entire district of parents will only foster more suspicion and rumors about these changes.”

Statute does not prevent the alleged secret practices by PVUSD administrators. As a result, parents can only appeal to the District’s leaders’ common sense. And that is exactly what they are doing. In anticipation of “other non-public meetings scheduled to discuss these changes in curriculum,” and “to make the process more transparent,” they are asking residents to contact Skidmore. Suggested text reads:

Dear School Board Member and Committee Member,

I learned, while attending a meeting of concerned parents, that teachers and administrators of PVUSD have been holding secret meetings to discuss changing the curriculum for Human and Growth Development at the 10th grade level. This is alarming given the recommended changes and language being used in the proposed curriculum as re-defining Gender/Sex (transgender).

Given the emotional and potentially inflammatory responses that will likely come from the body of PVUSD Parents…I am shocked at the lack of transparency. Since attending a meeting of concerned parents, I became quite angry and have begun sharing the situation with every parent I know.

It is further unsettling to know, that the original committee was comprised of teachers and staff of PVUSD only and was just recently modified to add eight parents. When considering the size of PVUSD and the number of parents on this secret committee…it is clear that parents are way under represented.

To have the district intentionally ignore the almost entire Parental body of the district, given the potentially inflammatory nature of this curriculum, illustrates a pattern of poor judgment and your blatant disregard for parent involvement.

It is my understanding that another non-public meeting is scheduled for Monday, September 26. Parents have been given a list of committee member’s names and contact information as well as being notified of the time and location of the meeting and the nature of the discussion.

The fact that three of the five board members are up for reelection in a few weeks leads many to believe that the incumbents are trying to keep things quiet until after the contest is over. Again, that’s an unacceptable violation of not just parents’ but also voters’ right to know.

This is not demand to stop the discussions…it is a demand to be transparent. To be fair to all interested parties, we recommend you open the meetings to a transparent venue and invite parents district wide. An ever-expanding group of parents and PVUSD taxpayers are organizing to assure that the voices of the parents and the taxpayers are heard regarding any material curriculum changes.

As noted by parents, a quick review of the proposed changes reveals an emphasis on very questionable concepts including but not limited to the “disappearing Y chromosome.” As early as 2014, in the Berkeley News article Study dispels theories of Y chromosome’s demise, the disappearing Y theories were dismissed. The fact that the draft curriculum relies on questionable theories to open up a dialogue about the concept that “genetic sex is more of a spectrum than a binary system, and no matter how your body is developing, you are right on track for where you need to be” is reckless. One only has to ask how much confidence a curious teen would have in the words of any educator who appears to support the “disappearing Y chromosome” after independent and critical exploration of the concept. Once the credibility is destroyed, any qualitative statements made about a student would necessarily be suspect.

Both the process and the premise should be able to survive public scrutiny. However, in the case of PVUSD, it may not have to and that should be unacceptable to both supporters and opponents to any proposed curriculum.

2 Comments on "Paradise Valley Curriculum Development Secrecy Questioned"

  1. Erwin D. Jones | September 29, 2016 at 9:15 pm |

    The PVUSD and it’s Governing Board has a very strong record of secrecy, secret phones, secret meetings and brushing things under the carpet. None of the above surprises me at all. Dr. Lee is a big bully.

  2. In a short time. Stop Sexual Assault in Schools (SSAIS dot org) will be producing a free online video that will inform every parent and student of their rights, regardless of gender or sexual orientation. With this education, school districts will know what they MUST do under federal law.

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