State education officials met with local parents and educators to gather input on a revision that would decrease the number of health standards local educators are required to teach Tuesday at the Cache County School District Board Room.
Utah State Board of Education Health and Physical Education Specialist Jodi Kaufman was present to answer any concerns brought forth by the public on a new Health Education Core Standards draft. She explained the difference between a standard and a curriculum.
“Standards are a big idea of what a student should learn by the end of a grade,” Kaufman said. “Curriculum or instruction is decided at a local level, and that’s what’s done inside of a classroom.”
Until Jan. 30, feedback is being collected on the draft.
“We want to know what you like, what you are concerned with, what you have questions about, what you feel is missing,” Kaufman said. “We want to know that because next the Writing Committee is going to come back together again and make revisions based on your feedback.”
Feedback is being gathered through six public meetings, different committees and an online survey the public can fill out. Kaufman said to also include items that the public likes.
“That is you telling the Writing Committee what you want them to either change or leave,” Kaufman said.
“If you appreciate something, it is also very valuable that you tell us that you like it the way it is.”
After the Writing Committee makes the revisions, a new draft is then taken to the board for approval. If the draft is approved prior to August, 2018-19 could be a pilot year for a school or district that chooses to implement the draft.
The standards would not be fully implemented until the 2020-21 school year.
Kaufman asked the attendees to provide feedback so the Writing Committee could make the correct revisions to the standards.
“If any of you are familiar with the standards, elementary wasn’t revised since 1997,” Kaufman said. “They’re old. We really want to get these right, and we can’t get them right without great feedback.”
Former President of Alliance to the American Dental Association Teresa Theurer said she was concerned about learning about dental hygiene in the standards and asked for the standards to include oral health in each grade.
“Dental cavities are total preventable, but they’re one of the most common diseases in our country, and I have a real concern about that,” Theurer said.
Multiple parents showed concern about sexual abuse prevention and how it should be handled and taught to the students. One parent said it was really important to specify and make it clear for the student, especially younger students, who is a trusted adult and to include parents as trusted adults.
Multiple concerned parents also said that homosexual relationships should at least be included in the standards.
Another concern brought up by multiple parents is the addition of HPV education in all the standards that include STD/STI or HIV/AIDS. Parents also stressed the inclusion of the various uses of contraceptives.
“Like HIV, HPV is a lifelong illness,” local dentist and Office of Utah Dental Association member Scott Theurer said. “Students of that age are being immunized, you know, for HPV and so, some are very familiar with the HPV virus.”
Kaufman said each district and charter would decide what is taught when it comes to contraceptives.
Health educator Barbara Farris said that Cache County parents in general are very supportive of sex education in schools.
Parents were grateful that mental health has been included in the standards. Parents also expressed gratitude to health teachers.
Kaufman also explained the 12 steps in the Standards Review Process, or how standards are adopted by the state board.
The first step is to ask the board permission to revise the standards. Kaufman asked to revise the Utah Health Education Core Standards in July 2017. Once permission is granted, the Review Committee is organized.
“The Review Committee has 17 members,” Kaufman said. “Ten of the members are parents. … The remaining seven members are selected by the Board Chair.”
The Review Committee met three times to create a report for recommendations for health standards they wanted to see moving forward. The committee wanted less overall standards for health education and want prescription drugs be covered under the new draft.
“Currently, middle school standards have 114 standards to be taught in a semester or trimester,” Kaufman said. “This draft has 32.”
Once the Review Committee produced the report, it was taken to the Board for approval. Once the report was approved, a Writing Committee was organized. This committee has about 30 members.
“The Writing Committee met over 30 times from March to September,” Kaufman said. “They’ve come up with the draft you are going to give us feedback on today. We are now in 90 Day Public Review.”
The 90 Day Public Review will end Jan. 30, and all feedback would have to be in by then.