Curriculum Changes of Sex Education Through The Years

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The topic of sex education in school has always brought up heated debates since the early 1900’s. There has been much controversy over time on what to teach, who should teach, the moral of sex education in the classroom and the religions aspects and beliefs of the families that attend the school. Throughout time we have seen a change in the way sex education is taught in pubic schools. The focus of this paper is to shed light on the content shift in sex education classes to determine why the change occurred. How have the views of sex education in schools created a shift in the learning content from teaching about marriage and family life to pregnancy and STD prevention?

Around the 1950s and 1960s the focus of sex education was towards the marriage and family life style, the anatomy of the human bodies and the roles of family members. As we progress over time towards the 1990’s and today we can see that the focus of sex education has taken a shift in a different direction. In today’s public school system sex education classes now focus more on the prevention of unwanted pregnancies and contracting sexually transmitted diseases. (Finkel, M. L., & Finkel, S. 1985) We see the shift from marriage and family focus to a focus on the individual and their personal preventive health. Prior to the education curriculum of the 1980’s there was a deeper religious impact on the sex education curriculum in school systems in the United States. (Lamb, S. 2013)

In the early 1900’s to the 1940’s the curriculum of sex education focused on the scientific facts of the sexual reproduction system. In the curriculum they put a focus of sex in the natural world. They used animals to portray sex as a powerful interaction between two living creatures and that it deserves respect. When sex education was being taught there were no human depictions being used as examples. They taught sex in this way so the students were still able to learn but they were not intimidated by the possible picture contents of having to see a picture of actual people engaging in intercourse. This curriculum soon changed around 1947 to help the students learn more about moral laws and the customs of society, and to better connect sex to their own lives instead of the animals in nature. The new draft of the curriculum would be focused on educating the students for personal growth and family living. This new change in the curriculum wanted to also help students to focus more on “wholesome decisions.”(Lamb, S. 2013) The moral laws that the students learned about in their sex education class consisted of making an informed decision. The teachers would present the students with questions such as, should young girls be learning about sex? Should they be able to make the decision as to whether or not to have sex or to remain in celibacy? (Lamb, S. 2013). In the mid 1960’s Sex education changed yet again, this time it was named “family life and sex education” and when implemented into high school curriculums it included a portion about ethics and was more student-centered focusing on their discussion. This new curriculum that was more “student-centered” would allow the students to have discussion about topics of sex education and also debates about the issues that came along with it. At this point in time the teachers were not allowed to express their personal opinions about sex and marital status. The teachers had to remain “morally neutral” and they were not allowed to make any comments or take a stand on any issues about sex. The focus was on the students and some topics that arose were homosexuality, contraception, and heterosexual intercourse (Lamb, S. 2013).

According to Finkel and Finkel (1985) the main topics of sex education is the prevention of pregnancies and venereal diseases. Other items on the agenda include teaching high school students responsibility for their actions, how to handle peer pressure, gender roles, personal hygiene, birth control, human reproduction and lastly knowledge of sexually transmitted diseases. (Finkel et al. 1985) In their study they discuss The Family Living/Sex Education curriculum that was established in 1967 for the school system of New York City, which would include all students in kindergarten through the 12th grade. Finkel writes, “Since the first publication of this curriculum, there have been rapid social changes in society.” (Finkel et al. 1985) The social changes in society that can be mentioned from the 1940’s to this point in time are the dynamics of families that have changed, the opening of a Planned Parenthood organization and changes in a person’s sexual orientation and status. In his quote we see that there was a needed change in the curriculum to adjust it to the developing society. The curriculum mentioned above targeted high school students that were in the New York City public school system in the 1980’s.

In the 1980’s according to Peter Scales, the focus of sex education was to make people sexually literate. This process would happen in sex education programs across the nation. Scales states, “To be sexually literate…is to possess the basic sexual information and skills to thrive in a modern world; a comprehensive knowledge of sex and sexuality; the ability to understand alternative sides of a sexual issue; tolerance for ambiguity and paradox…”(Scales, P. C.1989). In this quote we can see that the views in sex are changing in society and there is a greater acceptance for sex education. Society is coming to terms that the role of sex in their lives is changing and that people need to be educated on the new views and perspectives on sex education. If society is more open to accepting sex, then schools should be more open to teaching about it.

As we move to the 1990’s the focus of sex education takes a drastic change. We see this change because of the HIV/AIDS that has surfaced. The sex education programs are now focusing more on prevention education rather than the moral feelings and marital status for engaging in sex. According to Schalet, in 1998 federal funding shifted to focus more on prevention education, sexually transmitted diseases, the benefits of condoms and contraception, and shifted away from the abstinence only movement. (Schalet et al. 2014)

The changes that we see occurring in the curriculum of sex education are results of an ever-changing society. We moved away from the notion of teaching kids that the only way that it was proper to engage in sexual activities was to be married. According to Susan Rose there have been findings that state, just because schools are not teaching students about sex, does not meant that they would not engage and experiment with it. By educating the students there is a better chance that they will not become another statistic of unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.


Works Cited

Carter, J. B. (2001). Birds, Bees, and Venereal Disease: Toward an Intellectual History of Sex Education. Journal of the History of Sexuality, 10(2), 213.

Finkel, M. L., & Finkel, S. (1985). Sex Education in High School. Society, 23(1), 48–52.

Groen, M. (2009). A Right Turn on the Left Coast. American Educational History Journal, 36(1/2), 23–35.

Lamb, S. (2013). Just the Facts? The Separation of Sex Education from Moral Education. Educational Theory, 63(5), 443–460.

Mehlman, N. (2007). Sex Ed… and the Reds? Reconsidering the Anaheim Battle over Sex Education, 1962–1969. History of Education Quarterly, 47(2), 203–232.

Mucher, S. S. (2001). School Reform, the First Amendment, and Civility in the 1990s: The Construction of A Statement of Principles for Religion and Public Education. Journal of Church & State, 43(2), 319.

Rose, S. (2005). Going Too Far? Sex, Sin and Social Policy. Social Forces (University of North Carolina Press), 84(2), 1207–1232.

Scales, P. C. (1989). Overcoming future barriers to sexuality education. Theory Into Practice, 28, 172–176.

Schalet, A., Santelli, J., Russell, S., Halpern, C., Miller, S., Pickering, S., … Hoenig, J. (2014, October). Invited Commentary: Broadening the Evidence for Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health and Education in the United States. Journal of Youth & Adolescence, pp. 1595–1610.

Seaholm, M. (2013). Sex Goes to School: Girls and Sex Education before the 1960s. Journal of the History of Sexuality, 22(1), 168–171.

Stover, D. (2007). Should We Be Teaching Sex Education or Sexual Abstinence? Education Digest, 72(5), 41–48.


Waiting for Superman

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We can see the worry and hope on parents and students faces as they eagerly wait for their number to be called during the lottery to get into a charter school. In their minds, the parents know that this is the last chance for their children to have a better opportunity at education. The people that are attending the lottery want their children to be in the best school possible that will meet their needs. (Guggenheim1:30.03) They are bound to their neighborhood schools, which do not have a good reputation for a student to succeed academically. Other families attending the lottery are there because they do not what their children to attend the neighborhood public schools and cannot afford private institutions.

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With limited spots available in the schools and an overwhelming amount of applicants, by law there has to be a public lottery in place. During the lottery scenes the filmmakers would focus on the student and their loved ones faces to capture the emotions as they call number after number, not hearing their own yet. On the screens in white text we see the amount of spaces available in each school and we are able to see the number decrease as names are being called, and the chances for the children are becoming more slim.(Guggenheim 1:33.00) This is important because we are able to internalize the emotions that the families are feeling.

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One student whose story that we follow throughout the movie attended the lottery to obtain a spot at the SEED school. After his number was not called there was a short interview with him, which displayed the defeat that he felt. The reporter asked him “why do you want to go to the SEED school?” and in his reply he stated “I want my kids to have better than what I had. I don’t want them around this stuff”(Guggenheim 1:22.07) This students knew that the SEED school was an opportunity for him to better himself and to have a successful future. The reporter and the student further discuss that his father was not around and that he passed away when he was young from drugs. The student made it very clear that he wanted a better future for himself and he knew that a good education was his ticket to success.

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According to The Dirty Dozen by Kevin G. Welner charter schools are supposed to fit the needs of the students in their area. So how do they do so if there are so many kids on their waitlists? As stated by Welner “If charter schools identified as successful are not serving a cross-section of the students population, then where do the students go who are left out?” (Welner) If the charter school are targeting the neighborhood students, and not all of the students are accepted in the lottery then what happens to their education? Welner would respond to this as a technique used by charter schools to enroll the students that they would actually want there. The Dirty Dozen discusses twelve techniques used by charter schools to filter out the students they want attending their schools.

Ferguson, B., & Royal, K. H. (2011). The Deception of the “Lottery” at Lycee Francais
and Audubon Schools: The Misuse of Charter Schools, Part II. New Orleans, LA:

Guggenheim, Davis. Waiting for “Superman.” 2010. Film.

Welner, Kevin G. January 17, 2011“Why ‘Inside Job’ bests ‘Waiting for Superman’ on school reform.” Teachers College Record.

Battle for Equitable Education Funding Continues in Hartford Superior Court

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The Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding (CCJEF) is engaged in an ongoing court case against the State of Connecticut in order to fight for every pre-k to grade 12 student to have an adequate and equitable educational opportunity. Their mission is to make certain that school funding is distributed equitably based on the student’s needs in their districts. CCJEF wants to ensure that all students will acquire the supports they need to, even if it means all students do not have the same resources. They argue that all students are not the same and some require additional supports to succeed academically and engage in civic life. They are targeting the school districts with high concentrations of poverty. The goal of this trial is to have adequate funding for each student to prepare them for the rest of their educational careers and set them up for success in their futures.


On Friday morning, courtroom proceedings began with Kathleen Demsey, Chief Financial Officer for the State Department of Education. Previous to being a CFO, Demsey worked as an Education Consultant for the Connecticut Department of Education and as Principal  Budget Specialist at the Connecticut Office of Policy and Management. Demsey received her BA from the University of Connecticut in Management information Systems with a minor in Finance and went on to obtain a MBA from Quinnipiac University.


The line of questioning of Demsey sought to understand her role in the allocation of funding to public schools in Connecticut. She explained that her office is responsible for following the letter of the State and Federal law in an administrative and support role rather than provide policy discretion in this calculation and allocation of funding. The policy decisions which provide funding allocations is the sole responsibility of State Legislators with input from the Governor. Hartford Superior Court Judge Thomas Moukawsher consistently worked to clarify the role of the Demsey and the departments she oversees, at one point, he verified, “You take the formula, you do the math, and it spits out a number.”  
According to Demsey, there are a series of calculation adjustments which change the allocation of financial resources provided to individual school districts in the State. The student enrollment calculation is not simply based on total student enrollment. The number of students enrolled in Pre-K programs is used to adjust the per pupil calculation down based on the assumption that most Pre-K programs are half day. There are also factors which will adjust the per pupil calculation up, such as extended school year and additional school day hours. This adjustment would also  include programs such as summer school. In addition, districts receive increased student enrollment calculations for participation in the free and reduced price lunch program. According to Demsey, “Need of the students based on free and reduced school… 30% credit for each students enrolled…” Once these enrollment figures are adjusted, district wealth and income are used the further adjust funding allocations. The median income of a district is used to compare it to the median income of the State as a whole. The series of adjustments is intended to provide more equitable distribution of resources based on the differences community need within the district.IMG_5468-3

Cristina’s Learning Goals

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I would like to learn how inner city reform is different than suburban reform in the states. I would also like to learn how the different ethnicities of immigrants had an impact on the developing school systems in america. I want to learn more about how teachers are viewed in the eyes of society and how that impacts the views of learning in todays society.

Sunday School