The "sex ed for kindergartners" policy for which McCain has been bashing Obama is in fact a policy currently funded by the Bush administration and is a policy that has been recommended by state boards of education in conservative states such as Tennessee and Wyoming.
The Centers for Disease Control are currently funding an organization called the National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE) for the purpose of:
Providing HIV-related information and guidance to state boards of
education and other education stakeholders on policies that promote
effective HIV prevention for kindergarten through 12th grade students in
schools across the nation.
Here is how the NASBE describes its guidelines, i.e, the "model program" it wants states to follow:
The goals of HIV prevention education are to promote
healthful living and discourage the behaviors that put people at risk
of acquiring HIV. The educational program will:
* Be taught at every level, kindergarten through grade twelve;
The Tennessee state board of education as of 2003 had a policy that echoes that language virtually verbatim. Tennessee is obviously following the NASBE guidelines.
In case there's any doubt about whether the funding of K-12 HIV education is ongoing to this day, here is a press release from this February:
The National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE) has
made grants to three state boards of education to promote more
effective instruction to K-12 students about HIV prevention. The
$13,000 grants are being made to the North Carolina, Oregon, and
Tennessee State Boards of Education.
The grants are part of NASBE's HIV Prevention Policy and Program
Improvement Initiative, a facet of the Center for Safe and Healthy
Schools, which is supported by the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention's Division of Adolescent and School Health (CDC-DASH).
How long have these kinds of policies been around? Well, here is the
Wyoming model HIV education policy as of 1998, i.e., 10 years ago:
The goals of HIV prevention education are to promote healthful living and discourage thebehaviors that put people at risk of acquiring HIV. The educational program will:
• be taught at every level, kindergarten through grade twelve•
See that? 10 years ago, a state like Wyoming was already echoing the NASBE language.
It's particularly ironic that the NASBE/CDC policy calls for HIV education (not just "protection against inappropriate touching") starting in kindergarten, since this is an effective response to the latest line of attack from the right. This National Review piece by Byron York argues that McCain was justified in running that ad since the Illinois bill wasn't just about inappropriate touching and had language allowing for K-12 HIV education. Oh, yeah, Byron? Well, it appears your president has been funding that all along.
Now, ABC News thought it was a story when it turned out (after Romney bashed Obama on this "sex ed for kindergartners" stuff) that Massachusetts had a policy calling for sex ed starting as early as kindergarten.Think Progress has a piece up today calling out Romney for his hypocrisy in repeating the attack against Obama on Morning Joe today.
Wouldn't it be a much bigger story to report that the federal government, under Bush, has been pushing that policy nationwide? And that it's been adopted not just in that crazy librul state of Massachusetts, but in Tennessee and Wyoming (for instance)?
Remember, McCain loves to brag about his crusades against wasteful and inappropriate government spending. Well, if he's so concerned about "sex ed for kindergartners", why didn't he try to stop it while it was being promulgated by the federal government for years and years? McCain released a statement recently promising to work closely with the CDC to fight HIV. That would be a nice start, since he obviously hasn't been paying much attention to what they've been up to during his long career in the Senate!
ARS 15-716 says that school districts may provide HIV/AIDS instruction in K-12 so long as parents can request that their children be excused (an "opt-out" policy). At the same time, R7-2-303 (1989) requires written parent or guardian permission for participation in any course covering sex education for grades K-8 (an "opt-in" policy).
Now granted, as a senator, McCain doesn't have the same kind of control over education within his own state that a governor might. Still, I wonder if he's concerned about what's going on in his own state.
Update II: Here is another school organization which has adopted the NASBE language regarding HIV education starting in kindergarten: the board of education in Pickens County, Alabama. According to Wikipedia, Pickens County is a county of 20,000 people and is a dry county (i.e., no alcohol sold). Senator McCain, why don't you want Illinois to follow the lead of Pickens County, Alabama, on this issue?