The Nebraska Department of Education’s (NDE) two-year attempt at state-wide comprehensive sexuality education standards was a divisive disaster. However, the state government’s foremost educational organization did unintentionally teach valuable lessons along the way. Pay attention—there will be study guides and a final test.
Lesson One: Choice Matters More Than Ever
There are 48 states with some form of school choice legislation; Nebraska is not one of them. As a result, our K-12 education system is not compelled to listen to its stakeholders.
While we all pay taxes to support education, those in nonpublic schools pay twice. Furthermore, those low-income families who desire educational opportunities have no options. This lack of educational opportunity is why we so often hear this refrain from parents: “We are trapped.”
No wonder school choice is a top priority of the Nebraska Catholic Conference—it is a matter of justice.
The near monopoly of Nebraska public schools is part of why the NDE audaciously embeds ideology in state-wide learning standards. The threat of radical elements infiltrating our schools would be diminished if public schools had to compete for (and work with) families. And when/if such ideologies surface, parents would simply exercise their inherent right: They’d leave, choosing the best environment for their children.
And so, while the NDE does not support school choice, their health standards validate why educational opportunity is an essential right.
For study: The Wall Street Journal’s Oct. 25 piece, “Is the Public School System Constitutional.”
Lesson Two: Parents are Disregarded
In recently published NDE emails we sadly witness disparaging comments about parents and citizens. At one point an NDE employee groaned, “It sucks that there are so many crazy people” in response to the overwhelming opposition to the sexuality education. Breitbart published NDE email communication Oct. 14 that referred to the input of a grandmother as a “load of crap.”
The Free Beacon published Oct. 14 that elected State Board of Education member Deborah Neary “complained to NDE employees and fellow board members that public feedback on the standards played too significant a role in its development. Neary, who did not return requests for comment, lamented that parents were able to have any input on what their children are taught.”
The NDE correspondence speaks for itself. For parents, it’s difficult to read. But it’s also proof positive that the creep toward a “government-knows-best” ethos in education is now in our faces. The Catholic Church has the proper response: Parents are the primary educator of their children.
Lesson Three: Disordered Thinking
The tired argument from supporters of the NDE’s sexuality education is that religion should not “interfere” with science. Even elected member Deborah Neary bemoaned that religion was part of any conversation about “science-based” sex education.
First, sex and sexuality are fundamentally and historically tied to faith and morality. Secondly, science and religion are not in conflict. In fact, science is the study of God’s creation. History is rife with faithful scientists who proved that faith and ethics must act as compass for our scientific efforts. To flip the relationship is to invite dysfunction.
Until people of faith bravely step forward courageously, the prevalent disordered thinking will consume our educational landscape and culture at large. We must bear the light, proclaiming the truth of our loving Savior to those following an ideology incapable of loving them back.
For study: “Things Worth Dying For” by Cardinal Charles Chaput
Lesson Four: Truth, Like a Lion
Media outlets have exposed that political activists with ties to Planned Parenthood were invited into the process of the health standards. Likewise, LGBTQ activists who deny the dignity of God’s plan for marriage and sexuality were recruited. This occurred even as those with traditional Christian values were boxed out of the process.
Augustine tells us that truth is like a lion: we need not defend it; just let it loose and it will defend itself.
In this case, despite the manipulations and obfuscations of the NDE, the truth proved a relentless and overwhelming force when uncaged by parents, grandparents, and educators.
For study: Pray with Augustine’s words.
Final Test: Prepare
Your final test is really the lesson: Prepare for future battles. My mother reminds me, “Life isn’t like school: First life gives you the test, then you learn the lessons.” She’s a tremendous woman, and I extend her wisdom to you.
These health standards will surface again. Radical sexual education will be forced upon our children in the future. The culture will demand that you abandon yourself to its ideology at the expense of your Faith. Will you be vigilant? Will you be prepared? Will you pay attention to local elections, and demand representatives honor the values of their constituencies?
The tests keep coming; don’t forget the lessons.