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By Tim Hunt

Students need robust mental health curriculum

Uploaded: Jan 9, 2018

San Ramon Valley school trustees and the district’s administration have been engaged for several months trying to refine and improve education for students and their families.
The staff developed 10 initiatives designed to increase options for student, staff and family options; reduce student stress; and reduce class size with no increase in general fund expenses. The ideas were introduced in September and have been adjusted based upon input from stakeholders.
To say there has been some controversy and concern would be an understatement.
Trustees heard from the public and employees again last month in a meeting that went almost five hours, matching the earlier five-hour meeting when comments on the initiative were first taken.
The goal of increasing options is an excellent one and is the critical importance of reducing student stress. That was underscored at last month’s meeting that took place after a Dougherty Valley 14-year-old student had taken his own life.
The raft of teen suicides and the pressure that students readily acknowledge when asked, point out the importance of the district dealing directly with the issues with both students and parents.
One of the proposals—eliminating the health class requirement—would be a step in the wrong direction. One idea is to include the health curriculum in the physical education classes. That has been tried in neighboring districts to the north and has not gone well, particularly when it comes to sex ed. Many PE teachers understandably do not feel equipped to teach the subject, particularly given the whacky curriculum the state Legislature has imposed upon school districts.
To deal with the problem, in Orinda, the district has brought in Planned Parenthood, at a significant expense, to teach those classes.
When some parents learned what the abortion-provider was teaching, they were mortified.
And, as important as the sex ed curriculum is, the mental health issue is even more significant. In upper middle-class communities, the pressure on students—either from their parents or themselves—is extreme. The San Ramon Valley initiative seeks to address that—a worthy goal.
Dropping the health classes is a poor step backward.
San Ramon Valley can avoid that issue and equip its students better by maintaining the health requirement and ensuring it has a robust mental health curriculum.