Many Haddonfield parents were shocked last week to learn that the fifth-grade English Language Arts (ELA) curriculum includes a book in which the main characters discuss “porn” among other sensitive topics. “Dude, I thought you had porn or something in there, so I took a peek,” said one brother to another. To be clear… this is not a higher grade Sex Education curriculum. It’s ELA for 10-year old children. Why would we introduce the concept of porn to 10-year olds? When this was exposed, the Haddonfield Board of Education (BOE) denied it swiftly and aggressively, but their claim was quickly disproven when the curriculum, which contained the material, was revealed. It has since been removed, but what else is hidden in our children’s curriculum?
NJ statute allows parents to opt their children out of subject matter that conflicts with parents’ consciences or sincerely held moral or religious beliefs when presented in the Health, Family Life, or Sex Education curriculum. But what if subject matter is presented in, for example, ELA or Social Studies? Or what if a parent does not object to the material, but they disagree with the age at which it’s being presented to their children? What about the teacher, if the material conflicts with their beliefs? Are they forced to teach it? The board could comply with the statute and still broaden their opt-out policy to allow opt-outs based on subject matter, regardless of the course in which it is taught. Their current stance, however, is to deny parents this right. In other words, tough luck, parents.
If you’re concerned, demand a public board debate on this topic. Contact the board of education, attend the board meetings to assert your rights as parents, and most importantly, dig deeply into your children’s curriculum.