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Editorial: APS Reproductive Panel Unproductive for Public

There’s nothing like a cash-strapped school district throwing $4,500 down the rat hole of playing mediator to two groups that will never, ever, agree.

At least there should be nothing like it.

Yet Albuquerque Public Schools is forking over $4,500 in taxpayer dollars for professional facilitators who are supposed to get the extremist factions that constitute the district’s Reproductive Health Task Force to find common ground.

The task force is an offshoot of a committee of the Student Health Advisory Council. If that sounds like someone’s second cousin twice removed, there’s a reason. Made up of parents and state and district health workers, the task force was formed at the behest of Diego Gallegos, APS assistant superintendent for school and community support, because the parent committee spent all its time having contentious and emotional discussions about contraceptives instead of issues like obesity and diabetes and nutrition and physical education.

Meaning, Gallegos says, it couldn’t “get anything done.”

Task force, $4,500; parents, students and taxpayers, 0.

The final score is this: Neither the unfocused committee nor its fruitless task force is legally required, and APS already uses a comprehensive sex-ed curriculum — information about contraceptives and abstinence — in line with state standards. No amount of vitriolic, self-serving personal emails and cyber insults between participants should change that. And no amount of administrative searching for political cover to justify controversial education decisions can justify their wasteful, do-nothing existence.

School board member Kathy Korte, a vigilant critic of bureaucratic waste, says the task force has become a drain on APS’ scarce resources and the money could be better spent elsewhere.

She’s right.

If committee and task force members are actually open to advice on how to reach consensus and/or not send nasty emails, they should get it on their own time and own dime. APS’ job is to educate its students on what they need to be productive members of society, not their parents on the niceties of social interaction.

This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.