It removes an earlier plan to teach kids in first grade that people of the same gender can love each other, and strikes plans to teach second-graders it is hurtful to make fun of gay people by calling them names. Instead, the proposal stress current policy against bullying of all kinds - such as harassment for sexual orientation and many other reasons....
Also gone from the plan is an earlier proposal to teach, starting in grade five, different types of acts included in sexual intercourse.
It also makes sure that starting in fifth grade educators are clear that abstinence from sex is a "healthy choice" and "the only 100 percent effective way" to avoid pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. Other sections on general sex education remain.
They'll still be teaching nutrition. According to the Matt Gouras report, "sex education advocates still gave the revised proposal a warm review." Here's a copy of the revised curriculum (pdf), complete with edits. So much for the process being done in secret, eh?
Both Pogie and Jamee Greer were tweeting the event. Pogie: "Twice sections have been removed because 'they have been misrepresented.' How is that an argument to remove it?" Just goes to show, if you don't like something about a policy, make sh*t up about it. Works like a charm, apparently.
JameeGreer: "Board thanks community members who have gotten invovled, and heartened by the passion behind this. They want to see the community involved in everything at the same level, including drop out rates and attendence." Again, sex sells. How do you gin up outrage about policies on dropout rates or attendance? And, yes, I realize the board was being facetious.
Her claim that the curriculum process has been completed behind closed doors is, to be polite, a damn lie. Literate Americans can read Board minutes and attend meetings. At the end of the "interview," Allen-Gailushas even makes it clear that it's her fault for not getting involved earlier:
This has opened me up to needing to pay attention more, whereas I never really thought about it before.
To recap, the Board's public meetings and minutes are tyrannical because Allen-Gailushas didn't pay attention to what was going on.
Allen-Gailushas's reasoning for suing OPI is another demonstration of the keen analytical work of the Tea Party and its citizen lawyers. According to Allen-Gailushas:
Because they're [OPI] at the head of the school district and they have not come in to stop what the school board is doing...
Neither is NATO. Why not sue them? They have about the same level of jurisdiction over local curriculum.
You know, this is startlingly familiar to Tei Nash's outburst against Missoula's anti-discrimination ordinance, isn't it? Gin up some passion over a (deliberate?) misinterpretation of the ordinance/curriculum, incorporate it into some wider "culture war," demand the city/county bend its regulations and processes (and the rules of logic) for your complaints, and sue the h*ll out of any government organization who's within arm's reach, all the while complaining about wasted tax money.
Allen-Gailushas' lawsuit is also a nice representation of the conservative Tea Partying. It's all about the Constitution...until the Constitution protects immigrants and Muslims. It's all about government being accountable to the people, unless the people, you know, want to end discrimination against gays and their kids to know about nutrition. It's all about the rule of law, until the rule of law causes poorly written and ill-conceived lawsuits to be tossed from court. It's misplaced rightwing populist ire with racist, homophobic, and xenophobic overtones dressed up as a "movement," and lovingly embraced by a media looking for a clean "he said/she said" dichotomy for its political narrative.
Anyway...keep an eye on Pogie's site. He's obtaining a copy of the lawsuit. Expect hilarity to ensue...
Teaching children that same-sex relationships exist and the proper names of human organs apparently counts as "sex" education these days. This seems like a stretch to me, but let's go with it.
Why, some people wonder, do 5 year olds need to learn anything about their sexual organs? Here's a big reason:
If we're going to try to catch childhood sexual abuse, children need to have some understanding of what is inappropriate and should be reported. That's part of healthy sexuality and something that some parents will likely fail to impart. I think most of us agree that helping small children avoid sexual abuse is a good goal.
In light of yesterday's story, I thought some would find this interesting, while others might not.
Dana Goldstein reports that conservative groups are, unsurprisingly, freaking out over provisions in the health care bill that require coverage of that nasty little beast called contraception.
The conservative groups are particularly worried that a birth control coverage mandate could include teenage girls and young women covered under their parents' health insurance plans. "People who are insured don't want to pay for services they don't need or to which they have moral objections," said Chuck Donovan, senior researcher at the Heritage Foundation. "Parents want to have a say over what's covered and what's not for their children."
This raises an important question: just what are the expectations to be a "senior researcher at the Heritage Foundation?"
Experts expect the Department of Health and Human Services, led by pro-choice Obama appointee Kathleen Sebelius, to spend the next six to 18 months researching women's health before releasing new guidelines for women's "preventive health care." Under the new law, services and medications defined as "preventive" must be offered to customers of new insurance plans free of co-pays-whether that insurance is employer-provided or purchased on the individual marketplace, whether inside or outside of the new, subsidized health insurance exchanges.
Good for the administration, good for the health care bill, and, in a different sense, good for women and men.
In addition, a community conversation on end-of-life choice is set to take place at Carroll College on Saturday, April 10. Hosted by the ACLU of Montana, the event will feature both proponents and opponents of aid in dying, including representatives from the legal, civil liberties, faith, medical and disability rights communities as well as patients and families.
This conversation is a great opportunity to hear the full scope of opinions on Death With Dignity.
When people are terminally ill and death is near, they should be free to decide whether to prolong life as long as possible or to end their suffering more quickly. Terminally ill patients want the right to have some measure of control over their lives. The right to request aid in dying places the power to choose solely in the hands of the patient.
The Montana Human Rights Network is bringing Chip Berlet, a nationally-recognized expert on right-wing social and political movements, to Helena for a presentation on Friday, November 13 (TONIGHT). The event will begin at 7pm at Helena's Plmouth Congregational Church (400 South Oakes). It's free and open to the public.
Senior analyst at the Massachusetts-based Political Research Associates, Berlet will give a presentation titled "Obama, Right-Wing Populism, and White Rage: How Race, Class and Gender Anxiety Fuel Demonization and Scapegoating." Berlet said his presentation will examine how "racial fears, economic anxieties, and gender panics" are triggers of a right-wing backlash that targets the Obama Administration. The Right, he continued, is mobilizing resentment among a large number of middle-class and working-class whites who are convinced to support efforts that go against their own economic self interest and defend existing power structures.
Mr. Berlet is co-author of Right-Wing Populism in America: Too Close for Comfort. He's written for the Boston Globe, New York Times, The Progressive and Amnesty Now, and blogs on the Huffington Post, and Religion Dispatches.
This morning in a Helena courtroom, the Montana Supreme Court heard oral arguments on Baxter v. Montana. This case will decide whether terminally-ill, mentally competent adults have the right to choose aid in dying.
The Montana State Constitution contains broad clauses for dignity and privacy. The question before the court is whether those clauses protect the right to aid in dying.
Below is Montana attorney Mark Connell, arguing the case for legalized aid-in-dying:
In December, District Court Judge Dorothy McCarter ruled in a summary judgment that aid in dying is indeed a protected right under the Montana Constitution. The case heard today will give the higher court an opportunity to affirm that decision.
A diverse array of individuals and groups have provided friend of the court briefs in support of aid in dying. Human rights groups, women's groups, people of faith, legal scholars and many others contributed to these briefs. You can view those briefs here.
Compassion & Choices Legal Director Kathryn Tucker, co-counsel to the plaintiffs/respondents said, "This case is about the right of mentally-competent, terminally-ill patients to request a prescription for medication from their doctors which they can ingest to bring about a peaceful death. This is a choice the Constitution entrusts in them, not the government."
Tomorrow, Forward Montana is hosting a celebration of young voters in Helena, MT. Why? Because in 2008, young voters turned out in record numbers and supported change in overwhelming numbers. So we're going to talk a bit about what this new generation of civically-minded citizens is doing and how Forward Montana is continuing to engage young Montanans post-election.
Hosts include Governor Brian Schweitzer, Lieutenant Governor John Bohlinger, Secretary of State Linda McCulloch, Superintendent of Public Instruction Denise Juneau, Attorney General Steve Bullock, MEA-MFT, and SEIU 775.
Our co-host list goes a lot deeper with some great legislators and Helena community leaders, including some bipartisan representation (memo to Republicans: spend some time thinking about how not to get slaughtered among the youth vote if you want to find your way back to power).
Update -- Strangely, we've got some folks in comments claiming that young people in Montana vote conservatively and don't vote in large numbers, so here are the exit polls: young Montanans chose Obama over McCain 61-37. I'd call that a huge margin. Moreso, voters under the age of 30 comprised a bigger share of the electorate (22%) than voters over the age of 64 (18%) according to exit polls.
Obama lost Montana by 3%. Voters under the age of 30 were the only age demographic that went for Obama.
I'm down in Helena for a few days of meetings. The feeling here is very much one of either cautious optimism or cautious pessimism depending on the conversation. The optimism mostly stems from progressive gains at the federal level, the possibility of renewed federal aid to states, the strong statewide victories for Dems, the victory of Bob Story (a reasonable, even if not particularly moderate) Republican as the President of the Senate. I've had slightly fewer conversations where the other speaker is happy about GOP gains in the legislature (yes, I do talk to Republicans every now and then) or talk to Democrats who are pleased for political reasons about Scott Sales' ascendance to the Republican leader role in the House.
The reasons for pessimism are perhaps greater. The budget is going to be tight this session. The downturn is starting to impact revenue projections, with pension liabilities and infrastructure investments waiting to be made, we'll be nowhere near a surplus this session. We also know the recession is likely to get worse before it gets better. Add it all up and the legislature needs to tighten its belt and sock away some savings for future years. On top of that, Scott Sales' election as GOP House Leader is an indication of potential arrogance (hubris) among House Republicans. Sales has been claiming a mandate for GOP lawmakers, despite the fact that GOP House candidates got 10,000 fewer votes than Dem candidates (you get a similar number if you look at senate races from '06 and '08 combined).
The regular refrain here is that virtually everything will die. That's especially true of anything that spends money that is in exceedingly short supply.
So what can be accomplished this session? And what should be attempted?
Here's a few thoughts:
Fund the Healthy Montana Kids Initiative (I-155). Montanans by a huge margin approved health care for little kids (they're just so damn cute). The state needs to make good on that. But finding $20 million is going to be like pulling a rabbit out of a hat. It is possible that the Governor is including this in his executive budget (which will be released tomorrow). Frankly, I have no clue. The Governor's budget will include the money for the initiative.
End the Oil and Gas Tax Holiday. Normally, raising taxes in a recession is not what is advised, but this isn't your normal tax and there may be some way to mess with it that makes it reasonable. The oil and gas sectors have been raking money in hand over fist while the rest of the country hurts. If the holiday was ended and the revenue was put to popular ends -- say health care for those damn cute kids and property tax rebates for homeowners -- you might see a deal. But even that is unlikely.
Voting Rights. Just a month after backing down on challenges to 6,000 Montanans' right to vote, some Republicans are calling for yet another restriction on Election Day Registration (EDR). EDR was used by over 5,000 Montanans, but the argument is that it is hard so we should get rid of it. Last I checked, the Montana Constitution contains a right to suffrage. I didn't know we limited rights 'cause they were hard. I must have missed that.
This list just scratches the surface of the topics to be addressed. What else will be/should be tackled?
Update -- This article has the Governor prioritizing I-155 funding. The Healthy Montana Kids Act will be funded in the executive budget. The question now is whether the Montana GOP tries to slash funding for health care for those cute little kids.
So here's some cool things from yesterday's elections.
The top vote getters in both Helena and Missoula were also the youngest winners (and possibly the youngest candidates). In Missoula, newly minted Councilman-elect Jason Wiener and in Helena, Matt Elsaesser. I consider both friends (and I like to think they'd reciprocate). Missoula and Helena will both be better off for their passion, thoughtfulness, and intelligence.
Both cities also overwhelmingly passed calls for the U.S. to withdraw from Iraq -- the sooner the better. I've been getting some calls about what impact this will have. My suggestion? Ask our federal delegation. The biggest questions: Is Dennis Rehberg listening? And do Senators Tester and Baucus feel emboldened by these votes?
Brittany Kailey won the council seat she was vying for in Dillon, knocking off the councilman who worked with the mayor to abuse their positions to harass Brittany's husband. Nice work, my friends.
Pam Walzer won in Ward 2 -- the first progressive victory in the Ward in like 8 or 10 years. That was pretty cool. Just so we're clear -- Forward Montana didn't endorse Pam or any other candidates. But we did work hard on voter education in the area -- and Don Nicholson refused to engage in any of our activities. That may also be a lesson in Ward 4, where incumbent Jerry Ballas, no left-winger himself, ended up the preferred candidate of Missoula progressives, but still seemed unwilling to talk to us.
Montana native and occasional Left in the West contributor Gerik had a huge role in Oregon's Measure 49 -- which just passed with over 60% of the vote. Gerik's also an old friend and one of the hardest workers I've met in life. Big ups to him for his hard-earned victory.
The results of municipal elections are in, and the results are in and good.
Both of the Iraqi war referendums passed. In Missoula, 64 percent of voters asked their delegates to bring home the troops, and in Helena 61 percent of voters did the same. That's about as lopsided as it gets. Let's hope this adds a little more action and urgency to our Senators who've already spoken out against the war, and causes our sole Representative to reconsider his as yet unflagging support of President Bush.
In the Missoula city council elections the news was good, too. First, Jason Wiener won his ward 1 race in a rout. Jason's a good friend; we shared an office together at the University for a short while. I can say this with confidence: Missoula has just elected one of the smartest people you'll ever meet, and I'm confident the council, city, and citizens will benefit by his presence in our city government. Congratulations to Jason.
The Independent-Record's editorial page nails the issues in their editorial endorsing Helena's Iraq Referendum (a similar one appears on the ballot here in Missoula):
t sometimes is said that these issues really have no place in a municipal election, and moreover that such referendums are meaningless because, after all, Helenans have no power to affect the nation's foreign relations.
Well, yes and no. To be sure, the resolutions are binding on no one, least of all a president unlikely to ever face voters again. But there certainly is value in bringing a kind of formality to the discussions we've all been having with our families and friends. These ballot issues give people a chance to put their beliefs about the wisdom of this county's actions on record, elevating them above mere bar talk or sputtering at the TV set.
And ultimately, our views do matter in a democracy. Like all the similar resolutions voted on in hundreds of other cities across the country, our voices, added together, cannot be ignored by our representatives in Washington. Indeed, our voices could turn out to be more powerful than we know.
The canard that this stuff doesn't belong on a city ballot (which would make it tough to ever give official voice to concerns on national issues, since there's no such thing as a "national" ballot in America) is really an excuse for war supporters caught on the losing side of this issue.
Here's the reality: local citizens coming together and voicing their opinions officially on national matters predates the American republic. It's a cherished tradition that has been unfortunately forgotten to the point that people (mostly elites) raise arguments about whether it is "our place" to speak out on big scary issues like the war going on overseas.
The response is easy, of course. It's America. Our rights to speech, to petition, to speak out, and to vote are all enshrined in our Constitutions. And as to the question of whether we should -- well, I am a spring chicken. But it doesn't take a senior citizen to know that Washington, D.C., occasionally needs a little bit of a slap in the face from the people back home.
(Update: Pete Talbot has a quite good summary of the evening's events over a 4&20 Blackbirds.)
I was at the city council meeting last night where the council voted 7-6 to give Missoulians the opportunity to vote on the continued occupation of Iraq this fall.
The meeting was contentious, but I wouldn't actually say it was divisive. If anything, I came away with more respect for folks like Jerry Ballas and Don Nicholson -- as well as some of the audience members on the opposite side of the issue.
Still, there are a few arguments that I wanted to revisit -- especially since the entire purpose of getting this on the ballot was to stoke a discussion and debate about what is happening in Iraq and what course should be taken.
My family (aka. me, my wife Emily and my dog Monty) did a hike up Mt. Helena this weekend. It is our last hike up this great mountain that is part of Helena's city park system. This is a picture we snapped on the summit.
We're in that mode now where there's a lot of "lasts" going on - our last hike, my last fishing trip on the Missouri river, our last trip to the Helena Safeway, etc. Of course, it's probably not our last time for any of these things - Montana will still be here after we move to Denver, and we will no doubt be back to visit. But we are really sad to be leaving.
When you live in a small town like this in one of the country's greatest states, you realize all the things you never had when you lived in the East Coast grind. I've learned a ton, both about how to live life, and about how to really do politics out here. I'm going to miss Montana dearly.