California teachers in the Sacramento City Unified School district are planning their second single-day strike of the year to demand – what else – an increase in education spending and salaries to stave off cuts. The Golden State is no stranger to teacher strikes. The Los Angeles Unified School District also began the 2018-2019 school year with a teacher strike. The complaints are always the same – not enough money, not enough benefits, not enough classrooms. Regardless, the strikes have always been successful. LAUSD teachers managed to extort yet another pay and benefits raise despite the district’s credible claims that they simply couldn’t afford any spending increases at all. Los Angeles is now set to vote on additional property taxes in order to cover the new agreement.
Now California parents are taking their cues from the union’s strategy and organizing their own “strike” in protest of the explicit and controversial new sex ed curriculum currently being implemented across the state as a part of the deceptively titled California Healthy Youth Act.
On May 17th, Informed Parents of California (IPOC) will lead a student sit-out aimed at the coffers of the state. A significant portion of state and federal education funds are dispersed on a “butts-in-seats”, meaning schools and districts only get paid for “excused absences” or for children physically being in school. California parents across the state are being encouraged to keep their children home for the day without calling in the absence.
At issue is the graphic nature of the new curriculum framework and the political ramifications. An IPOC “bullet points” list of particularly concerning elements of framework includes the promotion of sexual pleasure, the promotion of masturbation, normalization of anal and oral sex, and the promotion of transgender/gender identity ideology beginning as early as kindergarten. IPOC founder and president Stephanie Yates says the curriculum goes too far in sexualizing children and cutting out parent involvement and notification. She contends that such discussions are inappropriate for a classroom setting in which parents are not present. Yates believes it is a purposeful division.
They are pre grooming our children for pedophiles, creating customers for planned parenthood and collaborating to still [sic] our children from us by stripping our parental rights away and creating division between children and parents.
The grassroots group has already organized two protests in front of the state capitol building in Sacramento. On March 28th close to 500 parents met on the steps to hear special guest speakers and concerned parents vocalize their objections to a curriculum that has been described as explicit, pornographic and deeply inappropriate for minors to be discussing with adults while parents are not present. The protesters then walked to the Department of Education to register public comments with the Instructional Quality Commission before they voted to advance the curriculum framework to the final stage of approval.
The second protest took place once again at the capitol, this time in advance of the final vote to approve the curriculum framework. Parents again marched over to the Department of Education to register their comments prior to the vote, which will mark the last opportunity parents will have for input.
The vote is expected to pass. Pastor and IPOC representative Gheorghe Rosca says the entire process has been corrupted from the beginning, frustrating parent efforts to slow down and evaluate the legislation. Assemblywoman Shirley Weber (D-San Diego) sponsored the original legislation (AB 329) and she also just happens to sit on the Instructional Quality Commission – the very committee that approves or rejects all curriculum framework. Rosca says not enough has been done to properly inform families about the questionable process of framework adoption or even what is in it.
The success of an organized parent/student “strike” is hard to predict. In a state in which the government has nearly total control over the dissemination of policy information it is difficult to gage how many parents are even aware of the new curriculum changes and how it will affect which grade levels and when. However, IPOC has has seen a shocking swell in membership on their Facebook page which leaped from under 13,000 followers to over 20,000 followers in weeks following the March protest.
As districts slow to adopt the new standards are now being harassed by the ACLU and other activist groups, parents are beginning to become more and more aware of the crisis at their doorstep. Unfortunately when the law was passed almost three years ago few people were informed about what it really meant for public schooling and children. Now that parents are being forced to confront what the new standards include, there is a new sense of urgency to pump the brakes on any implementation and at least start the process over with more teacher and parental input and less meddling from partisan, activist groups.
Parents and interested parties can find out more about the sex ed curriculum, action steps and the May 17 sit out by going to informedparents.org.
“The California Healthy Youth Act is making a lot of parents–and students—sick”, says parent Ailen Blachowski. “Cough, cough! It’s likely to be contagious”.