6:80 - Controversial Issues

Policy 6:80


Controversial Issues

Controversial issues may be studies in School District 39. Sooner or later pupils must meet and face issues involving controversy. The schools can help prepare pupils to face such issues with desirable attitudes, skills and procedures by selecting some of these issues for study to give pupils practice in dealing with them.

  1. Definition

    Controversial issues are here defined as issues on which conflicting views are held by political groups or factions, by management and labor, by urban and rural and by other large segments of our society. Controversial issues are important proposals or policies concerning which our citizens hold different points of view. Controversial issues arise from the conflicts in the cherished interests, beliefs or affiliations of large groups of our citizens.

  2. Controversial Issues in the Curriculum

    The curriculum may include the study of important unsolved problems which involve controversial issues. These are appropriately studied insofar as the maturity of the pupils, the judgment of the teacher and the means available permit. Only through the study of such issues (political, economic or social) do pupils develop certain abilities needed for effective citizenship in our democracy.

    Free discussion of controversial issues is the heart of the democratic process. Freedom of speech and free access to information are among our most cherished traditions. As pupils become mature enough to study the significant controversial issues facing our citizens, it is the responsibility of the schools to encourage dispassionate, unprejudiced and objective studies of controversial issues in an atmosphere free from bias and prejudice. It is the right of pupils to have free access to all relevant and appropriate material and to form and express their own opinion on controversial issues without jeopardizing their positions with teachers or schools.

The fundamental objectives of studying controversial issues are:

  1. To improve ability to discriminate between fact and opinion;
  2. to develop skill in critical thinking;
  3. to learn how to identify propaganda techniques;
  4. to develop a willingness to hear and understand other people’s views, to reflect upon them and to judge them; and,
  5. to develop an awareness of the rights of others to their own opinions.

Adopted: November 10, 1997

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