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Samantha Smoot To Step Down As Texas Freedom Network President Six-Year Term Sees Growth, Victories on Vouchers, Textbooks, Hate Crimes FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE September 22, 2004

AUSTIN Samantha Smoot will step down as president of the Texas Freedom Network at the end of this year.

“The last six years have been remarkable, largely because of the spirit and dedication of TFN’s many supporters,” Smoot said. “It has been a privilege to work shoulder to shoulder with people so deeply committed to fundamental democratic principles.”

Smoot took over as head of the Texas Freedom Network in 1998. Cecile Richards founded the organization in 1995 and served as its executive director until that time.

Terry Kenyon, chairman of the Texas Freedom Network’s Board of Directors, said a committee has already begun a search to replace Smoot.

“The Texas Freedom Network has made great strides under Sam’s leadership,” Kenyon said. “We’re all proud of what she has accomplished and are obviously very sad to see her go.”

Among the accomplishments during Smoot’s tenure:… Read More

Texas Freedom Network President Backs Education Commissioner’s Call For Teaching State Health Standards Commissioner calls on schools to “teach the state curriculum,” but new textbooks currently do not include mandated information on sex and health FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE September 15, 2004

AUSTIN The president of the Texas Freedom Network today backed Texas Education Commissioner Shirley Neeley’s call for schools to teach to the state’s curriculum standards.

“Ms. Neeley is right on target in calling for schools to teach to the state’s curriculum standards,” said Samantha Smoot of the Texas Freedom Network.

“Now she needs to fulfill her responsibility as education commissioner by calling on the State Board of Education to insist that proposed new high school health textbooks conform to the health curriculum standards. Publishers must add mandated information about family planning and the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases like HIV to those textbooks.”

The new health textbooks currently include no information about contraception and STD prevention except through abstinence. Yet the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) curriculum standards require that students be able to “analyze the effectiveness and ineffectiveness of barrier protection and other contraceptive methods” as well as abstinence.… Read More

Experts, Organizations Call For Responsible Health Textbooks In Texas High Schools State Board of Education Hears Testimony on Proposed Textbooks that Omit Vital Information on Preventing Pregnancy and Sexually Transmitted Diseases FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE July 14, 2004

AUSTIN The State Board of Education (SBOE) should insist that publishers conform to all curriculum standards by adding basic, reliable information on birth control and disease prevention to their proposed new high school health textbooks, said the president of the Texas Freedom Network on Wednesday.

“Families are faced with more challenges than ever in raising healthy, responsible children, and they need common sense, practical information on sex and health that deals with the real-life situations they face every day,” said Texas Freedom Network President Samantha Smooth.

Smoot spoke at a public hearing on health textbooks up for approval by the SBOE.

She joined representatives from organizations like Planned Parenthood, clergy, medical experts, educators, parents and other mainstream Texans who lined up Wednesday to call for responsible high school health textbooks. A vast majority of the more than 100 people who signed up to testify opposed the lack of information about sex and health in the textbooks.… Read More

Texas Poll: 90% Of Texans Support Sex Education Survey Bolsters Support for Health Textbooks that Include Information on Family Planning and Disease Prevention FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE September 7, 2004

AUSTIN A new poll shows that an overwhelming majority of Texans support sex education for teens that includes information about family planning and disease prevention.

The survey from the August Texas Poll found that 90 percent of Texans favor teaching students age-appropriate, medically accurate information on abstinence, birth control and prevention of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and HIV. Support rose from 86 percent on the same question in 2001.

The poll sends a clear message: new high school health textbooks now under consideration by the State Board of Education are inadequate. The new textbooks currently include no information about family planning and prevention of STDs except through abstinence.

“Publishers and a few State Board members mistakenly think sex education is controversial or somehow political,” said Susan Moffat, an Austin parent. “But parents know better. Parents know that making sure our kids have the most accurate and reliable information is the best protection we have for raising safe, healthy, responsible adults.”… Read More

From Bad To Worse: Publishers Make Reckless Changes To Proposed New Health Textbooks Leading Publisher Glencoe Says ‘Protected Sex’ Is a High-Risk Behavior for STDs FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE July 28, 2004

AUSTIN Documents released by the Texas Education Agency (TEA) reveal that publishers have agreed to make reckless new changes to their proposed high school health textbooks. One publisher even equates unprotected and protected sex, calling both “high-risk behaviors” for acquiring sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). The changes came at the insistence of state review panelists who evaluated the textbooks in June. The panelists included teachers, parents and other Texas citizens who are not experts in science, medicine or health education.

“Replacing no information about sex education in the textbooks with bad information will have dangerous consequences for Texas teenagers,” said Samantha Smoot, president of the Texas Freedom Network. “To raise responsible, healthy adults, families need the most accurate and reliable information possible, not dangerously misleading facts.”… Read More

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