Parents, educators and school board members throughout Colorado should applaud Matthew Clawson as a hero of children. He’s the school board president of District 38 schools, which serve Monument, Palmer Lake, Woodmoor and other areas of Colorado’s Tri-Lakes region.
Clawson understands the importance of allowing voters to elect local residents to govern local schools. As such, he penned a resolution this summer defending his community’s schools against authoritarian incursion by the Colorado Legislature. Other members of the board agreed with Clawson’s message and passed the resolution.
Clawson’s statement objects to Colorado House Bill 1032, signed into law this year by Gov. Jared Polis. The law forces a one-size-fits-all, politically motivated sex-education curriculum on public schools throughout Colorado.
It emphasizes teaching the “sexual experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender individuals” while forbidding the mere “teaching” of “religious ideology or sectarian tenets or doctrines.” While teaching about a wide array of sexual experiences could benefit students, they should also learn about the historical and pervasive role of sectarian tenets in the formation of sexual norms throughout the world. It should at least be an option.
Without passing judgment on the emphasis of the sex education law, it seems apparent that school boards should consider the unique characteristics of individual communities when choosing or devising sex education themes. Boulder is not the same as a rural Amish farm town. Neither community should force educational agendas on the other.
Clawson’s resolution eloquently explains the need for school district autonomy while stating “the Lewis-Palmer School District 38 Board of Education does not intend to approve a course of instruction that would be required to follow the contents of HB 19-1032 … ”
To obey the law, the resolution explains, would break another law — a more longstanding and established law.
Clawson cites the Colorado Constitution’s Article IX, Section 15, which seems pretty clear: local school boards “shall have control of instruction in the public schools of their respective districts … ”
The resolution continues: “any laws … that mandate specific instruction or that direct local school districts to follow specific instruction violate the Colorado State Constitution.”
The resolution concludes by asking the Colorado Association of School Boards to “fully investigate a constitutional challenge to” the sex education law. We hope the association fulfills the request.
Since writing and successfully passing the resolution, signs and flyers — likely from out-of-town special interests — have popped up throughout Tri-Lakes attacking Clawson with false claims of unpopular policy positions never held.
Standing for principle and truth never goes unpunished.
Clawson’s resolution should inspire school districts throughout Colorado to obey the constitution and decline the dictates of HB 1032 if they don’t serve the best interests of a community’s students. The constitution leaves “control of instruction” to local elected leaders for good reason: It best serves the unique needs of children, which change from town to town.