Thursday, August 11, 2005

Editorial: Show up to speak

Published in the Current

SCARBOROUGH (Aug 11, 2005): Next week, on Thursday, Aug. 18, parents will have an opportunity to speak to the Scarborough Board of Education about their views on sex education in the schools.

Every parent of a child in Scarborough schools should attend the meeting, at 7:30 p.m. in Town Hall, no matter their views on sex education.

Many parents are pleased with the curriculum, but others are not. Some object to lessons about condoms as a means of protection against sexually transmitted diseases, saying teaching about condoms is tantamount to approving of sexual activity for students. Other parents are concerned that their children might not learn about an effective way to prevent disease and unwanted pregnancy at an early enough age that the lessons will stick and be heeded.

We have had columns and letters to the editor on this subject, and postings on our Web site at, and we invite more of each. Please write to let us know what you think.

Children in our society are exposed to sexual material almost constantly, in the movies, on television, online and elsewhere. We must find ways to help children keep themselves safe, both from dangerous influences and from ignorance of the dangers.

No matter how caring or thoughtful a parent is, children have to do a lot of growing up all on their own, out among their peers, where parents’ watchful eyes cannot go. What we teach them will affect their decisions in those situations.

Parents with ideas, concerns and wishes for all aspects of sex education should make their voices heard. Write to us, and then go speak to the school board.

Making bus sense

Scarborough school officials should be commended for reacting swiftly to complaints from daycare owner Heidi McDonald, who was upset that a new policy reducing the number of school bus stops in town would require some two dozen of her charges to wait just off Route 1, rather than in her building, as has been the case so far.

McDonald’s immediate objections have been taken care of, at least pending further study by a school department committee: On Wednesday, McDonald met with Superintendent Bill Michaud and Transportation Director Scott Macomber, who told her the schools will keep the buses running to her driveway – though not her door – until the committee decides on a permanent solution.

Also, for this year, the schools will continue to transport students between Heidi’s House and all three of the town’s elementary schools, rather than just Eight Corners School, which serves the business’s region of town.

McDonald says she plans to fight the changes, to make permanent the special provisions the schools made this year, mainly because of the short notice to McDonald and to parents.

The schools should carefully consider the effects of this new policy on businesses and parents, as well as children. Parents painstakingly choose daycares for a wide range of reasons, but if the best daycare for a child is across town, that shouldn’t be a deal-breaker.

The idea of shortening bus trips by consolidating stops is a good one. But it would seem that the daycare centers have already created consolidated stops, by bringing together numerous children from separate homes to one location for pickup and drop-off.

The schools should be able to provide at least the larger daycare centers in town with bus service to and from all three elementary schools. Perhaps there should be a minimum number of students required before a bus route will include an out-of-region daycare, to avoid driving a town-owned bus all over town for a single student.

But there should be a way to meet the daycares’ needs while still achieving the school department’s goals. Bus service to daycares is, after all, a service to parents – just like bus service to homes.

Jeff Inglis, editor