Everything we always wanted to know about sex

We managed to sit through a day of sexually-oriented hearings under the dome.

We started in the Senate Corrections and Juvenile Justice Committee where they were scheduled to discuss a bill on background checks and fingerprinting of teachers but first they held a hearing on bill more strictly regulating sexually oriented business (or SOBs as people are now calling them over there).

A long list of proponents of the stricter regulations appeared before the committee followed by an opponent who represents the clubs but not the book or “gift” shops.

We learned a lot that we did not particularly want to learn and unfortunately for us, the hearing took up the entire committee meeting and so the discussion teacher fingerprints never happened. It will be scheduled for another day.

Later in the day, we attended a hearing in the House Education Committee on HB 2199, a bill to mandate that all sexuality education programs be offered on an “opt-in” basis. Current law allows the local school board to decide whether to make sex education opt-in or opt-out.

Under an opt-in policy, no student would participate in sex education unless the parents signed permission for the student to participate; under opt-out, all students would participate unless the parents directed the school not to place the student in the program.

This bill came up last year after a child in a Shawnee Mission middle school photographed a poster that was part of the district’s curriculum and shared it with her father. The poster mentioned explicit sex acts (text only) and one can certainly see how parents could be distressed over its use. In response the Shawnee Mission school district removed the materials and changed to an opt-in program. HB 2199 would prohibit local school boards from using opt-out options.

The bill proponents did support the intent of the bill but later began to call our reading lists and the common core standards as issues of concern. One proponent suggested that Shakespeare could be appropriate for high school seniors. Another favorite topic was the book Fifty Shades of Gray as evidence of a need for a change.

Opponents of the bill were members of the clergy – a United Methodist pastor, a United Church of Christ pastor, and a Rabbi – all of whom argued the mandating opt-in would in fact dramatically reduce participation in programs and create roadblocks to the reduction of unwanted pregnancy, STDs, and STIs.

No action was taken on the bill today.

Senate Ed finishes work on homeschooler sports bill

Last week the Senate Education Committee was working SB 60, a bill to allow homeschooled or private school students to participate in public school sports and activities.

A number of amendments offered by Senator Vickie Schmidt (R-Topeka) were adopted that would:

  • Non-public school students must pay the same participation fees as public school students,
  • Non-public school students are subject to KSHAA rules,
  • District liability insurance must cover non-public school students,
  • Non-public school students must attest to academic requirements,
  • There is no guarantee of a spot on the team; the coach/sponsor decides,
  • Non-public school students must submit proof of immunization.

But the Committee ran out of time before considering the last Schmidt amendment. Today, they brought the bill back and adopted the last Schmidt amendment which would require these students to have proof of health insurance to participate.

The bill was then passed out of committee with a favorable recommendation.

Senate Education to hear bad collective bargaining bill tomorrow

You will remember that we reported on a hearing the Senate Education Committee on SB 136, the PNA modification bill crafted and supported by KASB, KNEA, USA/KS, and KSSA. The entire education community stood up in favor of a specific bill modifying PNA. No one appeared in the committee to oppose SB 136. Sounds like a pretty easy decision – all educators support it, no one opposes it.

But…tomorrow the Senate Education Committee will hold a hearing on SB 176, the bill we described above and in yesterday’s report. A bill the whole education community opposes; a bill which will send the teaching profession back to the turn of the century (and we’re talking about 1899-1900, not 1999-2000!

You can contact the members of the Senate Education Committee on this issue by clicking on their names below:

Sen. Steve Abrams

Sen. Tom Arpke

Sen. Anthony Hensley

Sen. Vickie Schmidt

Sen. Dan Kerschen

Sen. Pat Pettey

Sen. Molly Baumgardner

Sen. Dennis Pyle

Sen. Jeff Melcher

Sen. Caryn Tyson

Sen. Steve Fitzgerald