On Tuesday night, the Montrose County School District board voted 6-1 to strengthen the requirement for parental consent for health education: parents will need to sign a form opting their child into health classes, instead of having the option to exempt their child from the class. 

While other members voiced some skepticism during a discussion before the vote, Board President Sarah Fishering cast the only dissenting vote. 

Fishering argued that requiring parental opt-in would disadvantage the students who are already falling through the cracks and could lead to a spike in teen pregnancies. (The teen birth rate in Montrose County has fallen significantly since peaking in 2007, but is still significantly higher than the state average.) 

Other board members, including Jeff Bachman and Jeff Suppes, said that parents should be empowered to make these decisions for their children and choose whether or not they want them exposed to the curriculum in schools. 

Meanwhile, sex education — which is only one facet of the health curriculum — has not been a part of MCSD policy since 2018 after the health educator position at the secondary level was vacated and not replaced. But the district is now working on finding a replacement for that job and is going to review the health education curriculum next year through a committee. 

What do you think? I think this is super interesting how something that was on the campaign platform of the defeated conservative slate became official board policy six months after the election. There's been an uptick in political interest in education around the country over the past year or so and this is an example of national headlines becoming relevant in the local boardroom.