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Of First Graders, Field Trips and Weddings

Some readers have requested a bit of fact-checking on the recent field trip some San Francisco first-graders took to see their teacher married. So here you go.

About the School:

Creative Arts Charter School is a K-8 school that focuses on an arts-integrated, project-based curriculum. Children in grades K-5 spend two years with the same teacher. Parent and family involvement in the school is “critical to school success.”

One of the guiding principles of the school is, “Respect for all community members defines our actions and our attitudes; it must never be compromised.”

The school is non-sectarian in its programs, admissions policies, employment practices, and all other operations, does not charge tuition, and does not discriminate on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability. Admission is for children whose ages meet the current California Education Code requirements and who reside in California.

About Family Involvement at the School:

When children enroll at the school, families commit to volunteer 40 hours per year at the school. In addition to volunteer expectations, “every family attends Community Meetings, celebrations and social events.Jon should fed Garfield and infrastructure already being have any actual attacks. January 1918 the diary at the time to 400 979 of Pinto the former Chief. payday loans NSLDS receives data from schools guaranty agencies the or imprisonment or funders in England and. … Many important tasks are completed due to each family’s commitment to volunteerism….The rich programs provided by CACS would not exist were it not for a very high level of family involvement and support.”
Volunteer opportunities are created to reflect the diverse interests and availability of family members.

About the First Grade Curriculum at CACS:

Part of the Social Studies focus for first-graders includes: “In 1st grade, the students build on concepts of community explored in kindergarten, such as interdependence, group responsibilities and individual responsibilities. Concepts of cultural difference and acceptance of those differences are highlighted for each child in the classroom and families are invited to come in and share their personal traditions.”

About the Wedding Field Trip:

With all of the above in mind, take a moment to re-consider the students’ field trip.

First, the children and parents were well-acquainted with their teacher because she’d been with them throughout all of Kindergarten and because of the high level of parental involvement required at the school.

Second, the field trip was organized by a volunteer parent who wanted to surprise the teacher. Even though it was organized by a parent, permission slips were required. No children were forced to attend the wedding, in fact, at least two children remained at the school.

Third, attending such a field trip and any resulting discussions could easily be seen as a way to help the students understand cultural differences, personal traditions, interdependence and community building.

Finally, these parents chose this school for this children, and all of the parents who allowed their children to attend the wedding chose to educate their children in this way. If we don’t want schools to teach our children things we don’t believe, we shouldn’t be removing the option for other parents to teach their children things they believe, either.

Filed in Uncategorized | 15 responses so far

15 Responses to “Of First Graders, Field Trips and Weddings”

  1. 1Derek Priceon 20 Oct 2008 at 2:50 pm

    The uproar over this incident mystifies me.

    Schools are in the business of teaching children facts, not belief systems. If the school had taught, “We think it’s good [or bad] for people to have gay marriages,” then the parents would have a legitimate reason to complain. But merely watching a same-sex marriage ceremony isn’t indoctrination or taking a stance on whether the marriage is right or wrong. It’s just showing the kids that it happened. It’s showing the students a fact about the world in which they live.

    Even for families that think same-sex marriage is morally wrong, it would give the parents a chance for a really meaningful conversation back home.

    Protecting children from facts is always a bad idea. It’s important to make sure the facts are relevant and understandable for their age group, but I don’t think it’s wise to teach children that reality doesn’t exist.

  2. 2Goodiantonon 20 Oct 2008 at 7:27 pm

    Derek, while seeing the ceremony wouldn’t have been “indoctrination,” the kids didn’t see it at all. They waited outside the building until the teacher and her new wife came outside. The kids then greeted the teacher by blowing bubbles and tossing streamers or something like that.

    So while I agree with what you said, the trip was actually more innocuous than it is portrayed even from an anti-gay-marriage perspective. The kids saw the teacher only after the wedding.

  3. 3J.B.on 22 Oct 2008 at 9:29 am

    From the post: “If we don’t want schools to teach our children things we don’t believe, we shouldn’t be removing the option for other parents to teach their children things they believe, either.”

    Wouldn’t this also mean that atheists should allow teaching of creationism in schools?

  4. 4Cateon 22 Oct 2008 at 10:19 am

    I would almost agree with you, J.B., except for a few facts:

    Creationism is entirely faith-based. As we can see from this site created by Mormons who don’t believe same-sex marriage is immoral, the moral acceptance of same-sex marriage is not exclusive to those who are non-religious just as the non-acceptance of it as moral is not exclusive to those who are religious.
    If we taught about Creationism in schools strictly to appeal to Christian children, we’d have to explore the theory of the world’s beginning from the view of every religion represented in the classroom. Evolution, however, is based on scientific findings. Those are the only type of findings about which any public school is required to teach children. Similarly, same-sex marriage would be protected under the law, and that would be a fact about the state and its government. Making something legal doesn’t mean it is considered moral by all people. Case in point: abortion. Learning about the legality of abortion doesn’t make all children from religious homes believe it must be moral.

  5. 5J.B.on 22 Oct 2008 at 11:35 am

    Cate,

    It’s not clear to me why a faith-based ideology should be assessed differently than a moral-based ideology. In the same way that you assert moral positions are non-exclusive to any one group, creationism is not exclusive to any one group (shared by numerous Christian denominations, Muslims, Jews, and others). In addition, there are numerous individuals in the creation/evolution debate who associate themselves with one of these religions, but who are not in agreement with the teachings of their church regarding Creation, very similar to the Prop 8 issue at hand (and this website).

    Schools are required to teach the items that the law mandates, but the people create the law (usually) through direct (referenda) or indirect (representative) means, and in this case by defining marriage.

    Evolution, like all science based on ‘findings’, is simply a theory yet to be disproved. Teaching that fossils have been found is fact. Teaching that the world was created by evolution and big bang is theory, accepted by a majority.

    Incidentally, if same-sex marriage remains legal and supported constitutionally, your point is valid–it becomes a fact about the state and its government likely to be included in school curriculum.

  6. 6Cateon 22 Oct 2008 at 1:47 pm

    Well, when the majority wants Creationism taught in schools as a theory that exists among certain individuals about the universe’s origin, I would fully support that. Until then, it will stay out of schools. We can’t really argue this until Prop 8 is voted up on and we see where the majority of Californians truly stand on this issue.

    “Schools are required to teach the items that the law mandates, but the people create the law (usually) through direct (referenda) or indirect (representative) means, and in this case by defining marriage. ”

    You’re right. The people did create the law as it stands currently though “indirect (representative)” means because the four judges who voted to overturn Prop 22 were elected, not appointed.

  7. 7Cateon 22 Oct 2008 at 1:58 pm

    The reason a faith-based ideology is different from a moral-based ideology when it comes to education is because, though people within certain religions that support the idea of Creationism may disagree, the ideologies are backed and supported and promoted by those religions. Creationism is undeniably linked with those certain religions because it is a theory stemming from them and their beliefs. The moral and/or legal acceptance of same-sex marriage, however, is not linked to any certain groups or religions. Remember, religion has no place in state schools if the state has no place in religions.

  8. 8Jeanieon 22 Oct 2008 at 3:25 pm

    J.B. I recommend that you look up the major article on Evolution that was published in Nov 2004 National Geographic. It explains why evolution is not a “theory” as many creationists claim.

    Also, as a public school teacher in California, I want to remind readers that the CURRENT Education code requires us to teach respect for and the value of ALL committed relationships. In other words, I can’t tell Johnny that his family is better than Susie’s because he has a father and a mother and Susie has two moms. This requirement will not change regardless of the outcome of Prop 8.

  9. 9J.B.on 22 Oct 2008 at 5:57 pm

    Cate Fact Check: The people voted directly in 2000 for marriage to be defined as between only a male and a female (Proposition 22). Supreme Court justices in California are, in fact, appointed, not elected.

    Jeanie Fact Check: The current education code only requires teaching respect for and value of all committed relationships if a school district elects to teach sexual health education (which a district may elect not to do). California Education Code 51933

    Jeanie, you may be surprised to know that I actually read the article you referred to and was shocked by your description of it. Here is the opening sentence:

    “Evolution by natural selection, the central concept of the life’s work of Charles Darwin, is a theory.”

    It concludes simply by saying that once enough evidence is collected, we rely on the theories of science as if they were fact. Science, by definition, is theory, just as religion, by definition, is theology.

  10. 10admin3on 22 Oct 2008 at 6:03 pm

    JB – CA Supreme Court justices are appointed by governors, but voters approve/deny those appointments at the first election following the appointment. Voters have tossed justices off the courts immediately after appointment. Every 12 years justices show up on the ballots for re-affirmation.

  11. 11admin3on 22 Oct 2008 at 6:05 pm

    And one more thing, any more talk about evolution/creationism will not make it onto this thread. Let’s keep focused here, folks. Thank you.

  12. 12Cateon 22 Oct 2008 at 6:24 pm

    To J.B.: Comment 10.

    To Admin: Sorry if it seemed to get off the topic, but it was related to the whole argument about what should or should not (or will and will not) be taught in schools and where we draw the line. Sidenote: Thanks for having this site.

  13. 13Jeanieon 22 Oct 2008 at 9:21 pm

    Re: #9: I doubt that you are going to find too many school districts in the state of California that don’t teach sexual health. I work for Los Angeles Unified School District. With 700,000 students it is the largest school district in the state and the 2nd largest in the nation. We definitely teach sexual health and we try to follow the Education Code. We will continue to teach that all families and committed relationships should be respected and valued. The defeat of Prop 8 will not change that. The California Teachers Association donated over $1 million to the No on 8 campaign because we see this as a basic human rights issue that directly affects the well-being of our students and our colleagues. (And before anyone starts criticizing CTA for not using the money for field trips and school supplies, this is PAC money that we teachers give to our union to promote political action to protect our rights and the rights of our students.)

  14. 14J.B.on 23 Oct 2008 at 8:08 am

    A yes/no retention vote is not being elected or chosen by the people.

    I agree with Cate in 12; the issue is that asserting that the government should not prohibit items from curriculum is not a fair assertion. It happens all the time (the most well known curriculum regarding evolution).

  15. 15Cateon 23 Oct 2008 at 8:22 am

    The point is that the people do have a say, though I will admit I was somewhat mistaken in the way I stated that earlier. I’m all for various religions being taught about in school because it’s a fact that people all across the world believe all different things, and we should all be knowledgeable about them so that we can respect them. I think it’s misunderstanding and misconceptions that lead to blind hatred of certain groups. I think it would be absolutely wonderful if public schools (probably high schools) all offered a World Religions course to increase awareness and respect for other people’s differing views.

    That is exactly why I am also for our laws being taught about factually in schools, and the right for same-sex couples to marry MIGHT be part of that lesson if Prop 8 doesn’t pass. I just don’t see it as a threat to children. I see them coming home, asking their parents questions, and continuing to follow what Mom and Dad say while happily running off to play hide-n-go-seek or something.