Magdalena Board of Education cautious with possible presentation by young mothers

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Magdalena Schools will proceed with caution in providing students with information relating to sex education.

At Tuesday’s Board of Education meeting, Magdalena Schools Superintendent Mike Chambers notified the board about a proposed presentation by young mothers to be made to middle and high school girls.

“I wanted to bring this to the board because it covers some controversial topics, like birth control,” Chambers said.

Chambers said the idea was brought to him by Bernadette Torres-Caesar, a contracted social worker for the school. He turned over the discussion to school counselor Sandra Montoya to provide more details.

Montoya said the program would be presented by the GRADS program in the Los Lunas School District.

“It’s a panel discussion where girls tell their stories and it’s opened up for discussion,” she said.

GRADS is an acronym for Graduation, Reality and Dual-Role Skills. It is a multi-generational program for pregnant and parenting teens. It focuses on pre- and postnatal care and provides on-site day care for babies while their mothers complete high school.

In addition to teaching parenting skills, child development and providing a support system for young mothers, the program teaches students about developing healthy relationships and prepares them for college and the work force.

While the presentation is typically given to high school girls, Montoya said she felt it was worthwhile that middle school students were included.

Chambers said teenage pregnancy was a subject that couldn’t be ignored. It was something that happens at every school, including Magdalena, he said.

The superintendent said the approach to sex education has changed dramatically over the years. He recalled when he was a boy in school and boys and girls were separated, hauled off to different rooms and clued in about the birds and the bees. Nowadays, some parents prefer to have that talk with their children themselves.

Chambers said if they decide to go through the GRADS presentation to young mothers, letters could be sent to parents and guardians notifying them of the talk and giving them the opportunity to have their child opt out.

Board President Gail Armstrong said she felt the presentation would be beneficial.

“Sometimes when people see and hear other people’s stories it’s good for kids,” she said. “Unfortunately, what happens in our society people don’t get told.”

Chambers said he was concerned that the young mothers on the panel might send the message of how great it is to be a parent. He said he felt a similar presentation intended to warn kids to stay off drugs may have left students with the impression that it was “cool” to be a drug user.

“We have to be careful about what is said,” Chambers said.

Business Manager Dorothy Zamora chimed in, saying she thought it was important that the information gets out, and others agreed.

Board member Randell Major wanted to know if sex education was taught at Magdalena School.

“We’ve been up, down and all around on it,” Chambers said.

Most recently, Chambers said Magdalena picked up on the Abstinence program taught at Socorro Schools.

Montoya said she felt that program had been beneficial, and that the GRADS presentation could generate some good discussion and useful information.

“What happens is that in this day and age kids are getting the wrong information,” she said.

The board talked about possibly reviewing the presentation given to students at Los Lunas and Valencia high schools before committing. Though no vote was taken, Chambers got the board’s permission to proceed. Montoya was directed to ask Torres-Caesar to find out more before anything was scheduled.

In Other Business

  • During her counselor’s report, Montoya said 32 juniors and seniors recently took the ACT, some for the second time.

Montoya said the date had been moved for the RESPECT program to the week of April 30. RESPECT stands for Real Life Education for Self Protection Empowering Collegebound Teens. Its aim is to educate teens about a variety of things they are bound to encounter as they grow into adulthood.

The program is sponsored by the 7th Judicial District Court and offers instruction to high school seniors about such topics as Internet safety and the dangers of drinking and driving and, new this year, texting and driving. Girls also are offered self defense instruction and boys this year will have the chance to attend a court trial.

This will be the third year Magdalena Schools has participated in the RESPECT program.

“I know the last couple of years it has given our seniors good information,” Montoya said. “They find out, ‘This is the real world.’”

  • Chambers notified the board about some of the problems the school has experienced with electric problems.

“The phones have been down, the website is down and the server was scorched,” he said, adding that the school’s server would have to be replaced.

Chambers said he contacted Socorro Electric Cooperative about the problem and no cause has been identified.

“All we know is that something really bizarre happened,” he said. “No one has been able to pinpoint it, but its’s something that will cost us time and money.”

  • Business Manager Zamora reported that all activity fund accounts were in the black.
  • Chambers brought up the New Mexico School Board Association scholarship nominations for this year. The criteria includes academics, activities and community service. He asked that Mid/High School Principal Regina Lane prepare a list of nominees before May 11.

 


-- Email the author at tslast@dchieftain.com.

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