Get informed about an issue before getting mad

Thursday, February 13, 2020

I regret that some people react to a program or issue without learning the facts. It is easy to lose sight of common goals and the common good when demonizing an entire organization on the basis of one small part of its range of services.

For the past two weeks, letters have been written complaining about the provider selected to conduct a teacher training program in Columbus schools. Rather than looking at the reasons and needs for the training or the actual content, people reacted to the organization providing the trainers.

Our common goal is the good of our children. Don’t we want the school board and administrators to respond to the needs of their students and select the best organizations and programs for our schools?

The training program, which has some people so upset, Foundations Training Initiative, is a nationally recognized model for training teachers developed by Answer and Cardea Services. The program was provided at the request of the school counselor in response to increased suicidal thought reported this year.

In Montana, the organization that had experienced staff trained in this excellent program happened to be Planned Parenthood. Don’t we want - even expect - the best for our children, including training for teachers to respond to identified needs?

We have experienced suicides in our schools and community; I am sure we all agree that we should do our utmost to prevent suicides.

Montana has one of the highest suicide rates in the country and we should be glad that the school administration responded quickly and professionally by choosing a provider that had the experience and training to do the best job.

Planned Parenthood does provide referrals for abortion, but it does much more than that for the health of women and men. The bulk of its money and resources are spent providing health care and education including contraception, breast exams, testing for sexual diseases, and cervical cancer screenings.

PP of Montana also provides health education, including the Foundations Training Initiative used in Columbus schools. This training does not address abortion but focuses on creating a safe space to have important conversations with youth and is used across Montana for teachers, public health nurses and anyone who works with youth.

Rather than complain about the choice of provider, I think the trustees and school administration should be commended for addressing an immediate need in our schools.

They saw a problem and identified the best program and provider for teacher training.

Kathleen Ralph