Bedford School Board favors survey supporters
Tuesday, May 6, 2014
To the Editor:
At the Bedford School Board meeting on April 21, the 2014 Developmental Assets and Attitude and Behavior surveys were the primary topic.
The Attitude and Behavior survey, given to students as young as seventh grade, included questions, such as sexual behavior, drug use and sexual orientation. Several parents have complained in writing and at the meeting that the content of the surveys were not accurately disclosed in advance, that parents were not adequately informed of the process to allow their children to opt out of the surveys, and that students were not told the surveys were voluntary.
Copies of the surveys and parental notification letters have since been posted on the district website at www.sau25.net.
The Coalition for Bedford Youth (CBY) introduced the surveys to Bedford in 1998, continues to support the surveys and uses the results to develop their programs. CBY representatives were invited by the board to give a presentation about their organization and the many effective programs that have contributed to our town, many of which I have supported.
I have a few questions for the board: Why did the board invite only supporters of the survey to speak at length, while opponents were given only limited time? Why were only supporters allowed to engage in question-and-answer dialog with the board and administration during the meeting while opponents’ questions were not answered nor were they allowed face-to-face discussion? Why did the board members and administration, prior to the meeting and off camera, form a strategy with the supporters to defend the surveys while opponents were not allowed the same consideration?
Board member Scott Earnshaw suggested that they surveys should all be opt-in only, so that the schools must receive expressed written consent from each parent or guardian prior to each student taking the survey. I ask that the board require the district to adopt such a written policy, so that both supporters’ and opponents’ preferences will be honored.