It seems that the Office of State Public Instruction’s idea of damage control is using semantics to confuse the parents of students.
Last week, the state Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) released its health and physical education standards for the 2017-2018 school year.
The document clearly instructs public schools districts to begin teaching students — beginning in Kindergarten — about gender expression, gender identity, gender roles, and sexual orientation. The state expects this area of education to be completed by the seventh grade, so that students are able to “distinguish between biological sex, gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation.”
Predictably, parents were outraged.
Following the public discovery of these standards last week, OSPI Communications Manager Nathan Olson said that the specific learning outcomes outlined on page 29 of the standards are merely recommendations to local school districts, not requirements, and that all curriculum is determined by the local school districts.
“State learning standards are the required elements of instruction,” said Olson. “Outcomes provide the specificity to support school districts in meeting each standard in each grade level.”
Here is where OSPI is trying to hide: by stating that curricula are determined by the local school districts, which is true, they are deflecting attention from the fact that all public school districts must use OSPI’s standards and outcomes to determine what to teach students.
You can equate OSPI’s use of semantics to Henry Ford stating that you can buy any color car you want, so long as it’s black.
OSPI’s assertion that state education standards are simply recommendations does not comport with Washington state law or the Superintendent’s introduction to the health and physical education standards document. According to Washington law, district curriculum is expected to be aligned with the state’s education standards and outcomes.
According to RCW 28A.655.070,
“The superintendent of public instruction shall develop essential academic learning requirements that identify the knowledge and skills all public school students need to know and be able to do based on the student learning goals in RCW 28A.150.210.”
According to the health and physical education standards (emphasis added),
“The Washington state learning standards are the required elements of instruction and are worded broadly enough to allow for local decision-making. Outcomes provide the specificity to support school districts in meeting each standard in each grade level. The 2016 health and physical education standards and outcomes provide the guidance to teach, reinforce, and apply all of the state’s learning goals” (Page 2).
“By implementing grade-level outcomes, educators will help students meet the learning standards. All districts, schools, and educators in Washington state are expected to implement the state learning standards and outcomes for all students” (Page 10).
While it is true that state education outcomes leave flexibility for schools to determine the best way to teach the required concepts, OSPI’s main concern is that students understand the concepts enumerated in the standards document. School districts and local schools must use the state education outcomes to determine whether they are implementing the state learning standards, as they are required by the state to do.
OSPI is using the definitions of standards and outcomes to confuse you. But make no mistake – come 2017, public schools across the state will be teaching students, beginning in kindergarten, about gender expression, gender identity, and sexual orientation. It is foolish and deceptive for OSPI to claim that schools will not be expected to teach these concepts because these requirements are “outcomes” and not “standards,” hiding behind semantics as a means of avoiding public backlash.
OSPI conceded that it does not plan to issue a press release or otherwise inform parents of these radical changes. By now, they must be aware of their overreach and are preparing for blowback from the parents of students across the state.
Sign the petition, and call OSPI State Superintendent Randy Dorn (360-725-6000) to let him know that you’re not on board with not being notified of these new standards.