Date Adopted: April 27, 1981
Date Revised: December 17, 1990
- The center of the democratic process is found in the exercise of
intelligence in the solution of problems. Citizens identify and define
problems, examine data, offer solutions, and make decisions. The free
exchange of facts and opinions is essential for the survival of our
- Controversial issues are important policies or proposals on which
conflicting views are held by large numbers of people in schools,
community and nation.
- The American heritage of civil rights and our established traditions of
respect for the individual are not controversial. Most of the curriculum
is composed of established truths and accepted values but it also includes
many controversial issues which are appropriately studied to the degree
that student maturity and available resources permit. Through the study
of such issues, students develop decision making skills necessary for
citizenship in our democracy.
- The schools do not teach controversial issues; they provide for their study
under competent guidance. At all grade levels the schools should provide
opportunities for students, according to their maturity, to analyze current
problems, gather and organize pertinent facts, discriminate between fact
and opinion, detect propaganda, identify prejudice, draw sound conclusions,
respect the opinions of others and accept the principles of majority rule
and the rights of minorities.
- In the study of controversial issues, the student has rights which must
- The right to study a controversial issue which has significance and
regarding which, the student should begin to form an opinion.
- The right to have free access to relevant information.
- The right to study under competent instruction in an atmosphere free
from bias or prejudice.
- The right to express opinions on controversial issues without
jeopardizing relationships with the teachers or the school.
- The study of controversial issues should be objective with a minimum
emphasis on opinions. The teacher should treat controversial issues in an
impartial and unprejudiced manner and must refrain from using his/her
position to promote a partisan point. No member of the staff shall attempt
to control, by persuasion or threat, the judgment of the students.
- The Superintendent shall develop guidelines for the administrative and
instructional treatment of controversial issues.
- The Board of Education shall defend staff against reprisals for acting
in the spirit of the policy.
- Only qualified school district personnel should guide students in a
discussion of controversial issues. No individual or organization may be
permitted to speak directly to a class or assembly without the approval
of the principal.
"School News and Views," School District of Philadelphia, October 13, 1961