Where do IL schools stand on Sex-Education?

March 4, 2009

I knew there was a reason I should go to the editorial meetings. I found out that Eight Forty-Eight is planning a full call-in show tomorrow on the state of sex-eduction here in Illinois. I remember one sex ed teacher in our high school would always mumble whenever she came across a suggestive or taboo word. So to this day I still don't know what a (mumbling) vnrrrrrurrrrsssisiaaa is. I sent off 5 questions for Eight Forty-Eight Senior Producer Aurora Aguilar about putting this show together: JK: The show will air tomorrow at 9am. What led you to put together a sex-ed show? AA: The last segment of the series 50/50 concentrated on how pregnancy impacts the drop-out rate at Robeson High School where Linda Lutton, Julia McEvoy and Natalie Moore have been embedded for almost a year. As we were researching the topic, we realized that Chicago Public Schools did not have an implemented comprehensive plan for teaching Sex Ed. This led us to wonder how individual schools deal with informing students about the health, cultural and social aspects of sexual education. During our daily brainstorming meeting of 848, the team decided the questions of whether and how Sex Ed is taught and who should be teaching it was one that should be answered by our audience. And so, we've decided to collaborate with the producers and reporters of 50/50, CPS and several other interested organizations in producing this show. JK:‚  In researching and producing this program -- what have you found interesting about the way Illinois approaches Sex-Ed? AA: It's a part of the curriculum that's left in the hands of individual schools, their principals and their teachers. CPS says they train teachers but there doesn't appear to be consensus on what's taught, who teaches it and at what age. JK: What are you hoping from your callers? The show is at 9 am, so you probably won't get students"¦ We've actually engaged a number of local organizations and their audience by letting them know about the show ahead of time. We're providing ways in which students can leave messages at 312-948-4848 or send us emails. We'll include both during the show. We hope our callers will take this opportunity to discuss a topic that's often taboo or overlooked but obviously has such a huge impact on young people in America. We hope to get stories that will resonate with our listeners and opinions that will enlighten and inform. Our listeners are an erudite bunch. We often have callers who are experts in the areas we've explored call and offer valuable tips and information. We expect the same will happen during this call in show. We also hope to make an impact on future planning for CPS curriculum, as most experts we've spoken to in researching this topic have said a comprehensive plan has a positive outcome. JK: Tell us how a show like this works -- how do you find your panels, callers? A ton of calls and reading. We've had producers Katie Buitrago and Eilee Heikenen-Weiss working with Education Senior Editor Julia McEvoy and me to vet potential experts who need to be both learned and personable (we are a talk show, after all) and who provide us with a broad scope of perspectives. After some discussion about the opinions and information we needed to include to best serve our listeners, we decided that we needed a researcher who's studied the impact of various methods of sexual education and an abstinence-only educator. We've also reached out to a number of local organizations and high school teachers we know to promote the show so that young people can call ahead of time and leave recorded messages or send emails. We're implementing a new phone system tomorrow so that we can get as many callers on as possible. JK: Last question: my Sex-Ed teacher dressed like he was a gigolo. It was very 70s, mustache and all. Can you ask the panel to make it so that sex-ed teachers can't dress that way? You Sex Ed teacher probably dressed like that as a disguise to hide from you. Since you've been gone, they've stopped dressing like that. Ok, listen tomorrow at 9am. If you can't wait to learn about sex, you can just watch this sex-ed video from 1957.