New York City Schools To Revise HIV/AIDS, Sex Education Curricula
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's (R) administration on Thursday announced that city schools will revise their "outdated" HIV/AIDS and sex education curricula and likely begin teaching the subjects to students earlier than eighth grade, the New York Post reports. New York City schools currently teach sex education in eighth and 11th grades, according to the Post (Campanile, New York Post, 2/6). Dr. Roger Platt, director of the Office of School Health, said that the city schools' sex education curriculum has not been updated for 20 years and the AIDS curriculum has not been updated in 10 years (Yan, Long Island Newsday, 2/6). According to Planned Parenthood of New York City, the sex education curriculum still lists the Today Sponge as a contraceptive option even though the product has not been available since 1994. In addition, the AIDS curriculum states that gay, white men account for the "overwhelming majority" of AIDS cases, despite the fact that blacks and Latinos account for 82% of new HIV/AIDS cases among teenagers, the Post reports.
Schools Chancellor Joel Klein said that in addition to the "inadequate" curricula, there is a shortage of high school health teachers and they do not have time to attend the required 30 hours of training to teach the subjects (New York Post, 2/6). "It's pretty hard to justify to people to invest 30 hours of their time to learn a 20-year-old curriculum," Platt said, according to Newsday (Long Island Newsday, 2/6). Platt said that the new HIV/AIDS curriculum and information on preventing pregnancy will be based on "sound advice" from health professionals and education experts, according to the Post (New York Post, 2/6). Education officials said that the health curriculum could be complete by the end of the year, but they have not yet set a timeline for the new HIV/AIDS curriculum, which is a "more complicated process" because public comment is required, Newsday reports.
Health Education Mandates
The state Education Department requires schools to give general health and age-appropriate HIV/AIDS instruction in every grade, but the requirement is being met "unevenly at best," according to Newsday (Long Island Newsday, 2/6). According to state Assembly member Scott Stringer (D), who wrote a report titled "Failing Grade: Health Education in New York City Schools," at least 75% of schools in the city violate government health education requirements, according to the New York Sun. Platt said that in 2002, almost 10,000 city women younger than 18 became pregnant and 3,000 became mothers, according to the Sun. In addition, teens represented 114 new HIV cases in the city (Lucadamo, New York Sun, 2/6). Last month, the New York AIDS Coalition released a report stating that New York City schools have violated state mandates on HIV/AIDS education. The report, titled "A Call for Reform: Strengthening HIV/AIDS Education in New York City's Public Schools," found that the schools have failed to meet guidelines requiring students in sixth through 12th grades to receive six HIV/AIDS lessons per year and guidelines requiring students in kindergarten through fifth grade to receive five AIDS-related lessons per year. The report recommends that the school system update its HIV/AIDS lessons, employ well-trained personnel to teach the lessons and improve oversight and evaluation procedures to better ensure compliance. "Examining the stipulations of the mandate one by one reveals that the school system is not in full compliance," the report said, adding, "These grave inadequacies exist in the face of increasing HIV infections among youth" (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 1/9).