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Newport-Mesa USD |  BP  6144  Instruction

Controversial Issues   

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It is the intent of the district to provide for the study of controversial issues as a part of the plan to implement the belief expressed in the district's Statement of Educational Principles, that schools accept responsibility for assisting all students to prepare themselves to be responsible and productive members of a democratic society. Controversial issues are matters of interest upon which there is no agreement approaching unanimity among the citizens of the community, of the nation, or among the nations of the world. The fact that controversy exists with regard to an issue is considered to be prima facie evidence that there is argument in support of opposing views.

The Governing Board recognizes that free discussion of controversial issues is at the heart of the democratic and academic process. Students must be afforded the opportunity to acquire the fundamental qualifications for citizenship in a changing society through both an understanding of the antecedent facts and values which shaped our society and the issues and unsolved problems currently confronting society.

The Board believes that students should have opportunities to discuss controversial issues which have political, social or economic significance and which the students are mature enough to investigate and address. The study of a controversial issue should help students learn how to gather and organize pertinent facts, discriminate between fact and fiction, draw intelligent conclusions and respect the opinions of others.

The Board expects teachers to exercise caution and discretion when deciding whether or not a particular issue is suitable for study or discussion in any particular class. Teachers should not spend class time on any topic which they feel is not suitable for the class or related to the established course of study.

The Board also expects teachers to ensure that all sides of a controversial issue are impartially presented, with adequate and appropriate factual information. Without promoting any partisan point of view, the teacher should help students separate fact from opinion and warn them against drawing conclusions from insufficient data. The teacher shall not suppress any student's view on the issue as long as its expression is not malicious or abusive toward others.

Teachers sponsoring guest speakers shall either ask them not to use their position or influence on students to forward their own religious, political, economic or social views or shall take active steps to neutralize whatever bias has been presented.

(cf. 1312.1 - Complaints Concerning District Employees)

(cf. 1312.2 - Complaints Concerning Instructional Materials)

(cf. 5145.2 - Freedom of Speech/Expression)

Legal Reference:

EDUCATION CODE

51510 Prohibited study or supplemental materials

51511 Religious matters properly included in courses of study

51530 Prohibition and definition re advocating or teaching communism with intent to indoctrinate

51933 Sex education courses

60040 Portrayal of cultural and racial diversity

60044 Prohibited instructional materials

60045 Required to be accurate, objective, current, and suited to needs and comprehension at respective grade levels

Policy NEWPORT-MESA UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT

adopted: September 8, 2009 Costa Mesa, California