The Hawaii State Department of Education says it will be placing Pono Choices implementation on hold as it conducts another review of the pilot curriculum.
The DOE says Pono Choices is a medically accurate teen pregnancy and Sexually Transmitted Infection prevention program funded by the federal Office of Adolescent Health and developed by the University of Hawaii at Manoa Center on Disability Studies.
The pilot program drew criticism because of one reference to a same-sex relationship.
Leila Hayashida, DOE’s Assistant Superintendent for the Office of Curriculum, Instruction and Student Support stated, "Recent concerns over the department’s sexual education curriculum have resulted in misstatements and misunderstandings about the learning that takes place in the classroom. Pono Choices is a pilot curriculum and is one of seven DOE approved curricula for schools to use for sexual health education. We recently asked the CDS to address public concerns about the curriculum’s descriptions of healthy, unhealthy and abusive relationships."
Following the 2013 fall semester, Pono Choices curriculum implementation will be placed on hold while the CDS addresses concerns and the DOE completes another review process.
"We look forward to the review process as this will provide us with the opportunity to address any concerns the department may have with the curriculum," said Kelly Roberts, Ph.D., principal investigator for Pono Choices. "Our goal is to have a positive impact, reducing teen pregnancy and preventing STIs, through the use of medically accurate and evidence-based curricula. We appreciate the parents who attended our informational sessions and provided valuable feedback while obtaining answers to their questions regarding the curriculum."
During the 2011-2012 and 2012-2013 school years, 12 DOE schools chose to implement the Pono Choices curriculum as a part of sexual health education. Each school held parent informational sessions prior to use. Eight other DOE schools are scheduled to receive training this school year. These 20 DOE schools, if implementing sexual health education prior to finalization of the second DOE review of Pono Choices, will need to select and use another curriculum.
Sexual Health Education is taught in middle schools and is focused on the short-and long-term effects and consequences of sexual activity, such as an unintended pregnancy or STIs. All DOE approved Sex Education courses are in compliance with the Board of Education’s abstinence-based sex education Policy 2110. For any course or lesson that is considered "controversial," parents have the option of opting-out their child. This is in compliance with DOE regulation 2210.