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Election lesson angers parents

Fourth-grade teacher pulls hot-button topics after objections voiced

Published: Thursday, Oct. 25, 2012 1:15 a.m. CDT

CHADWICK – Are contraception, abortion and gay marriage appropriate topics for fourth-graders?

Many parents in the Chadwick-Milledgeville school district apparently don’t think so.

On Tuesday, Chadwick Elementary teacher Amy Workman gave students information on issues in the presidential campaign. Each one listed the positions of President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney.

The parents didn’t seem to mind the handouts on education, jobs and the economy. They objected to the ones that included contraception, abortion and gay marriage.

After receiving calls, the teacher pulled the controversial topics from Wednesday’s lesson.

Milledgeville resident Jess Hamilton, whose daughter is in Workman’s class, posted her objections to the lesson plan on Sauk Valley Media’s Facebook page.

“These terms ‘contraception’ and ‘abortion’ are not terms that should even be discussed in a fourth-grade classroom,” Hamilton wrote. “These kids cannot possibly understand this information in this stage in their life. They shouldn’t even have this kind of stuff introduced to them for many years.”

She noted that parents already had to sign permission slips to allow their children to attend sex education class.

“Why then is it OK to introduce our fourth-graders to contraception and abortion?” she asked.

Tami Diehl, whose son is in Workman’s class, agreed.

“I don’t think it’s appropriate for any 9-year-old to be reading about being gay, abortions or contraceptives,” she said. “[My son] doesn’t know men can marry each other. He doesn’t need to know.”

Such topics, Diehl said, are better left for high school.

Chadwick Elementary Principal Tim Schurman said Workman got negative feedback from parents, so she decided to pull the topics of abortion, contraception and gay marriage.

“She didn’t intend to have parents be upset about this,” Schurman said. “The teacher recognized in hindsight that these are issues that are a little beyond a fourth-grader’s comprehension.”

The teacher simply wanted to discuss “this important campaign,” he said.

Workman, who got the handouts from familyeducation.com, didn’t return a message for comment.

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