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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Proposed sex ed curriculum for Spokane schools ‘at step one’ in revised development process

June 5, 2018 Updated Wed., June 6, 2018 at 10:49 a.m.

The Spokane Public Schools administrative building in downtown Spokane in 2017. It was built in 1980. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)
The Spokane Public Schools administrative building in downtown Spokane in 2017. It was built in 1980. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review) Buy this photo

Spokane Public Schools officials hope to have a sex education curriculum in place for middle-schoolers before the end of the year.

At Tuesday’s meeting of the district’s Human Growth and Development Citizen’s Advisory Committee, members were updated on the revised timeline by Heather Bybee, the director of secondary curriculum.

“We are at step one,” Bybee said at the afternoon meeting at the district’s downtown administration building as she reiterated a message sent last month.

“We are reviewing curriculum materials,” she said. “We pulled together a curriculum team that’s made up of staff, teachers and community members of different perspectives.”

The materials currently being considered include the 3Rs (Rights, Respect and Responsibility), which Bybee said will “provide districts the opportunity to adjust lesson content to meet local interests.”

Added Bybee: “The one thing that 3Rs does that previous materials didn’t, is it allows us to edit and adapt to reflect our community. … We think this is a really good opportunity to have materials that are true to Spokane.”

Along with Matthew Henshaw, the district’s elementary curriculum director, Bybee offered a timeline that envisions having a curriculum for seventh-, eighth- and ninth-graders in place before the second semester of the next school year, while also preparing teachers to impart those lessons.

“We’re not going to put materials out without providing professional support to teachers,” Bybee said.

The timeline includes materials review through the end of June, draft materials sent to the committee in August and a curriculum proposal offered to the panel by November.

The public will have opportunity to weigh in at committee and school board meetings as well as informational sessions this fall.

However, the proposed curriculum first must be vetted by district staff and approved by the Spokane School Board.

With the school year drawing to a close, teachers are getting the first look at new materials. Bybee hopes teachers will be able to spot gaps and offer revisions in the material.

The content of previous material has been a contentious issue for almost a year.

On June 28, the committee approved a curriculum known as “Get Real,” which was partly designed by Planned Parenthood, that was derailed by last-minute concerns.

A monthslong impasse led to consideration of a revised curriculum drawing from different perspectives, but on April 11, the panel voted to continue studying all 94 lessons from the most recent proposal.

Three weeks later, on May 2, another committee meeting “did not result in a recommendation to move the proposed curriculum forward,” according to a district-issued letter.

Committee members returned those lessons Tuesday.

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