Primary Educators League

Assisting parents in the eternal vigil of protecting the freedom and holiness of their families.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

How to get "buy-in" for "Talking About Touching"

"Talking About Touching" and the Committee for Children (www.cfchildren.org) has a step by step process as to how to get "buy-in" for their program across a school district, or let's say, an Archdiocese. It's worth reading so you'll be able to understand and recognize the methodical and systematic approach being used to implement this in 95+ percent of all our parishes.

A couple of things to note. Under point #2 they actually recommend that you, "revise or create school policies and procedures that will reinforce and support the program concepts." I guess that was done wholesale by the bishops in 2002 with the creation of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.

Also, if you read the link under point number two, while they mention in the headline "Getting staff and families on board," families and parents are almost completely ignored. In fact, if you look at the entire process they have for getting "buy-in" to a school district (or Archdiocese in our case) parents are rarely mentioned except at the end of the process. They say, "get the PTA/PTO or other parent/community organizations on board to "talk up" the program." That's it. It's not until the program is sold through the adminstrators, and teachers that the parents are finally asked to get involved.

This is all top down driven. No need for parents to apply.

Is it just me or does it seem like the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis is following TAT's recommendations step by step.

1) Gearing up - Administrators and Sponsors: get approval from overall authority
2) Getting staff and families on board
3) During the Training
4) After the Training
5) Getting parents, families, and communities on board
6) Facilitating family sessions


1) Gearing up - Administrators and Sponsors:
Successful program implementation begins with strong sponsorship. The sponsor is the person with overall authority and decision-making ability to help ensure the program's success. This person is typically a school principal, assistant principal, district superintendent, agency director, or program coordinator.

2) Getting staff and families on board
Once the administrators have bought into the prevention program and understand thoroughly what will be expected of the staff in order to implement it effectively, there are some steps to take to gain buy-in from those who will be teaching the lessons and using the skills directly with children. Buy-in from staff members and families is critical for the success of implementation and transfer of learning.
  • Revise or create school policies and procedures that will reinforce and support the program concepts.
  • Pilot the program in one classroom, at one grade level, or in one school (for district-wide implementations) to build staff interest. Ask the teacher and students in the pilot to share what they have learned and the results program use have produced.
  • Get the PTA/PTO or other parent/community organizations on board to "talk up" the program. (my comments - Do we have all the DREs on board to talk up TAT yet?)

3) Staff: During the training

  • Show how the program complements other behavior-management programs that you may already have in place.

Feel free to follow the rest of the links on the CFC site for steps 4-6. Once again, the parents, recognized as the primary educators by our Archdiocese, are the last to participate in this matter.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Primary Educators League Responds to Sr. Fran Donnelly's Accusation

(E-mail sent to Sr. Fran Donnelly (donnellyf@archspm.org) and Sharon Tomlin (tomlins@archspm.org) on Thursday, March 23rd. The e-mail below was in response to Sr. Fran's e-mail (posted here) to all main parish contacts re: VIRTUS that had been sent out earlier on Thursday. Note, there has been no response to these questions raised below).

Dear Sr. Fran and Sharon,

Good afternoon. I understand that you sent an e-mail this afternoon stating that "there appears to be yet another round of inaccurate information" and that, "there are parent meetings being held around the Archdiocese sponsored by the 'primaryeducators.org' group. While they may be well-intentioned, there are flaws and misinformation in their presentation."

Please let me know what is not accurate in our presentation. We are not trying to be confrontational but rather we're trying to provide accurate and factual information for parents and pastors to help them protect God's children.

You have also mentioned that, "...to my knowledge, the Archbishop remains firm in his approval of the recommended curriculum, as outlined at the February10, 2006 Leadership Meeting, the February 16, 2006 issue of The Catholic Spirit, and as outlined on theArchdiocesan Website."

Primary Educators has not stated that the Archbishop has changed his mind on the recommended curriculum, nor have we said that he recommends another program such as "Formation in Christian Chastity." We've only stated what was stated at the Feb. 10th meeting and what has been in writing published from the Archdiocese...pastors may petition the Archbishop to use another program so long as it meets the requirements of the Charter/Article 12.
You further state that
"Those few parishes and schools who have or will receive approval to use other curricula are receiving Archbishop Flynn's permission to go outside of the approved and recommended curriculum. Archbishop Flynn has not added more choices to his recommended list! There is a difference!"
There is a difference...we're not saying there are more programs that are recommended...but we are saying he has approved FICC for some parishes and schools.
Again you state

"I would like to remind all of you that Archbishop Flynn's expectation is that all school and parish religious education leaders and their pastors will view the materials first hand before making their decision to not use the recommended curriculum. It is not enough to have read or hear about the curricula from other sources. We have concerns that some may be just presuming it is OK to use other curriculum without having previewed the recommended ones and perhaps even without communicating with the Archbishop at all. I would strongly recommend that you have a conversation with your pastor, so that you and he have the same understanding."

After reading this last paragraph, how am I to explain how
Providence, Holy Family Academy, and Holy Trinity have already received written approval? They did not view all the material. Other parishes will likely be approved this week. They have not seen all the material...and yet, the Archbishop gave his approval.

How many priests and DREs have come down to St. Paul to view the curriculum?

How is one suppose to take the Archbishop's words (posted
here) with what you just sent out on e-mail? The Archbishop himself said, "they have a number of options to choose from." If the plan is as you've described it, there are two options...either TAT or the KidWISE fair as the alternative. There are not a "number" of options unless the Archbishop means he's approved other programs.

Can I ask what is your response if someone calls down to your office to ask if "Formation in Christian Chastity" is an approved program? The answer would be "yes," wouldn't it? It's not a "recommended" program, but you would tell them it's "approved" wouldn't you?

Lastly, can you let me know what, besides "Formation in Christian Chastity" has also been approved?

Thanks for your consideration.

Primary Educators League

Planned Parenthood - Pastor Pack Info; FICC Article - The Catholic Servant

Dear parents,

Three key points to pass along:

1) An excellent FICC article that was published in last week's Catholic Servant by Barb Ernster. Please share this with your pastors and key decision makers at your parish. It will give further credibility to our effort here despite what chancery officials are saying.
http://www.primaryeducators.org/FICC_Servant.pdf

2) A flyer announcing the meeting on Thursday, March 30th. Thank you for distributing this to as many people as possible.
http://www.primaryeducators.org/Roseville_Meeting.pdf

3) A document from the presentation that provides the key points Planned Parenthood recommends our children should know from ages 5-7 regarding their sexuality.
http://www.plannedparenthood.org/pp2/portal/medicalinfo/parenting/pub-children-sexuality.xml

Please read this in context of your understanding of the VIRTUS Parent's Guide as well as the information you've learned about "Talking About Touching." (In case you've misplaced your VIRTUS Parent's Guide, you can find it here). We're not saying Planned Parenthood had a hand in the creation of the VIRTUS guide or TAT, but it is not hard to see some of the common themes that run throughout all these programs.Note: if you have distributed Pastor Packs, please note that the Planned Parenthood information was not included. (It was included in the Parent's Pack). If you'd like to share this with your pastor, please go ahead and do so.

Lastly, since we are a small but growing group of people, please pass this information along. So far there are 128 people who have signed up to receive these e-mails. Please encourage others to join the list so we can improve communications and broaden our reach. They can sign up at the web site.

When the chancery sends out communication, it goes out to several hundred people including pastors, DREs, key education personnel and VIRTUS coordinators. We have a ways to go to spread the word on "safe environments." Your help is greatly appreciated!

Protecting God's Children,

Primary Educator's League
www.primaryeducators.org
http://www.altorfamiliarum002.blogspot.com/

Sr. Fran Donnelly takes on Primary Educators League

(This message was sent Thursday, March 23, 2006 to all Directors of Religious Ed, all parish main contacts and pastors).

Subject: To ALL PARISH MAIN CONTACTS from Sr. Fran Donnelly Re: VIRTUS

This message is being sent on behalf of Sr. Fran Donnelly, Director, Center for Ministry.

Dear Parish and School Leaders:

I would like to thank all of you for your timely return of the School/Parish Verification Forms related to the distribution of the Parent/Guardian Guide Materials. At this time, 66% of all parishes and schools have sent their forms in and the response has been overwhelmingly positive.

It has come to my attention that there appears to be yet another round of inaccurate information that is making it very difficult for all of you to stay the course in your efforts to implement the Archdiocesan Protection of Children and Youth Curriculum. There are parent meetings being held around the Archdiocese sponsored by the "primaryeducators.org" group. While they may be well-intentioned, there are flaws and misinformation in their presentation. And unfortunately, parents are the ones who are confused by it all. That means, of course, that you are called upon to give answers to your parents when they call. We very much appreciate all that you are doing for the good of the whole. And please know that the education staff and my staff are here to support you in anyway that we can.

To my knowledge, the Archbishop remains firm in his approval of the recommended curriculum, as outlined at the February 10, 2006 Leadership Meeting, the February 16, 2006 issue of The Catholic Spirit, and as outlined on the Archdiocesan Website.

Those few parishes and schools who have or will receive approval to use other curricula are receiving Archbishop Flynn's permission to go outside of the approved and recommended curriculum. Archbishop Flynn has not added more choices to his recommended list! There is a difference!

I would like to remind all of you that Archbishop Flynn's expectation is that all school and parish religious education leaders and their pastors will view the materials first hand before making their decision to not use the recommended curriculum. It is not enough to have read or hear about the curricula from other sources. We have concerns that some may be just presuming it is OK to use other curriculum without having previewed the recommended ones and perhaps even without communicating with the Archbishop at all. I would strongly recommend that you have a conversation with your pastor, so that you and he have the same understanding.

The Catholic Education and Formation Ministries staff has made arrangements for the materials to be viewed at numerous times between now and the end of May. You may sign up for a viewing time at the Hayden Center by calling Sharon Fruetel at 651-291-4500. Because of space restrictions, we need you to call ahead for an appointment so that you do not have to wait to get into the Instructional Services Center. Those with appointments will be accommodated first. Also, note that we will make similar arrangements starting next month for parents who wish to view the materials. And remind your parents that before the programs are implemented in your school and parish that they will have an on-site opportunity to see the materials and to have their questions answered.

Thank you again for your support and help in fulfilling the intent of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People. As we move forward with this initiative, it is clear to all of us that even without the Charter's mandate, it is absolutely what all of us in the adult world need to be doing to provide safe environments for our children. I know I am preaching to the choir here, but God bless you and keep you.

Sr. Fran Donnelly
Director, Center for Ministry
651-290-1600
donnellyf@archspm.org

Friday, March 24, 2006

Email from Archbishop Flynn Regarding Father Altier and Safe Environments Concerns

"Nedeau, Karen"
Date: Mon, 20 Mar 2006 15:03:09 -0600
From: "Nedeau, Karen"
To: undisclosed-recipients:;
To interested party


Thank you for your recent note. I appreciate that you have benefited spiritually from Fr. Altier's homilies. He has done much good work and is not being "silenced."

Fr. Robert Altier is a priest of the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis in good standing. He wrote to ask me for permission to extend his radio ministry. I reviewed the situation and discerned that a break from his multi-media apostolates might be beneficial to him and to the parish of Saint Agnes. His primary responsibility has been and continues to be as assistant to the pastor there in ministering to the parishioners. The specific reasons for this decision are within the context of a bishop's relationship with his priests. It would be most inappropriate to discuss them with others.

Many people have leaped to inaccurate and unkind conclusions. They do a disservice to Fr. Altier and to me. I pray that Lent will be a time for them to examine their consciences and grow in charity. They would be well-advised to listen to or read some homilies about the perils of rashly judging others and about the respect owed to the successors of the apostles.

Some people have mentioned concerns with regard to the "safe environment" programs for children. Let me assure you that pastors in this Archdiocese have a number of options from which to choose and that parents always retain the right to withhold their children from any program to which they object.

I hope that you may avail yourself of some of the other good spiritual resources on the radio, Internet or in good, old-fashioned books. I personally enjoy the insights of the periodical missal Magnificat. You are also free to visit Saint Agnes where Fr. Altier continues to actively minister.
With every good wish, I remain
Sincerely yours in Christ,

Most Reverend Harry J. Flynn, D. D.
Archbishop of Saint Paul and Minneapolis


This email was scanned and found to be virus-free upon transmission from the Central Corporation of the Archdiocese of St. Paul & Minneapolis.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

First Principles: an answer to the pro-TAT lobby

How is it that certain Catholic clergy have chosen to use the same tools as Planned Parenthood and SIECUS to fight child sex abuse? Is it possible that Catholics are fighting the same battle as Planned Parenthood and SIECUS? The first or fundamental principles which are the basis for action according to Catholic moral theology seem incongruous to those principles employed by Planned Parenthood and SIECUS. Don't Catholics accept the first principle of the Natural Law, which, according to St. Thomas Aquinas, is that Good is to be done and Evil to be avoided? Don't Catholics accept that certain actions are intrinsically (by their nature) Good, while others are intrinsically Evil?
Protecting our children is an act which the Church considers intrinsically good. Aborting our children is an example of an act which the Church considers intrinsically evil. Again, Catholics believe that the act of sexually abusing a child is intrinsically evil. But Planned Parenthood and SIECUS do not seem to believe in intrinsically evil acts at all. According to these organizations, there are no intrinsically disordered acts with regard to human sexuality. Rather they seem to hold that child sex abuse is unacceptable, because it is not consensual.

According to their own admission in their Guidelines for the Education Children, Planned Parenthood suggests that young children (before age five) are to seek privacy to touch their sexual organs for pleasure, but are to say “no” to sexual practices that hurt or are uncomfortable. The guidelines for children ages 15 to 18 are all about consent: the idea being that “if it feels good, do it.” If an individual consents to an act, according to these principles, then it is acceptable, and may even be good.

If an individual consents to an action, even one that hurts or is damaging, Planned Parenthood would be unable to proclaim that action as evil. All manner of atrocities, even the seduction of young boys by older men, are permissible if mutual consent and not intrinsic good is the basis for right and wrong. This absurd position is born out even in our current system of law as testified by this article at Concerned Women for America.

How can Catholics be fighting the same battle as Planned Parenthood or SIECUS when Catholics believe in intrinsic evil and Planned Parenthood does not? Catholics seem to be fighting anything that mars the true and complete dignity of the human person, particularly the special dignity of innocent children, while Planned Parenthood is fighting anything that hampers complete sexual license.

For many years the homosexual lobby has also fought to break down the barriers which hamper sexual license (see this article for pro-homosexual promotion of “safe environments”). They too have seen that the substitution of the system of intrinsic goods with the system of mutual consent might prove victorious in this fight. Proclaiming sexual acts as good or bad based only on mutual consent and not on a principle of intrinsic good places Planned Parenthood, SIECUS and the homosexual lobby in the same camp antithetical to authentic Church teaching. The tools developed in this camp, such as “Talking About Touching,” seem not only contrary to the battle which Catholics are fighting but also pose a grave and serious threat to the Church’s continual proclamation of the dignity of the human person.

The “Talking About Touching” program is deeply flawed. It is founded upon and answers to the despairing values of the radically secular world whose only truth seems the truth of mutual consent. No amount of “Catholic window dressing” can obscure that reality. Child sex abuse must be stopped, not because it makes children feel bad or even ‘unsafe’, but because it is objectively, intrinsically evil. We need tools in this fight such as the “Formation in Christian Chastity” program that reflect this truth, not “Talking About Touching” which seems only to further the despair of the modern world.

Monday, March 06, 2006

The Parents' Hour

Parents across the Archdiocese of Minneapolis and St. Paul are up in arms over the news that of all the “safe environment” curricula available to choose from, our archdiocese has chosen the most controversial and explicit of all for our youngest children, Talking About Touching.

You can read all about Talking About Touching on this blog and on the website, www.primaryeducators.org. You can read that it is an entirely secular program, teaching intimate and distorted sexual concepts without any context of faith. You can view the lesson plans which contain stories of explicit sexual abuse of children. You can see how certain chapters of Planned Parenthood and SIECUS enthusiastically endorse Talking About Touching. You can read the history of Committee for Children, the company behind TAT, although you may think it too unbelievable to be true.

There are many parents who will dismiss this issue with a wave of the hand. “These parents must be hysterical. They must be some fringe element, the type that lives in a vacuum and refuses to expose their children to the real world. They must be the ones disrespectful of the Church, always thinking they know better. After all, the local church keeps referring to parents as the ‘primary educators of our children,’ therefore they must be respecting us, right?”

It is this last point where I take aim. It is with great love for my Church, my bishops and priests that I, as a lay person and mother, must point out the gross mistakes made, both in the actual material selected for my children, but also the way this process has been conducted. While we constantly hear that the role of the parent as primary educator is being respected, I ask, how? When? Where were the parents when our archdiocese put together a committee to study the various programs? Why were no parents invited to participate? Why have thousands of archdiocesan employees had to sit through adult training sessions, but there have been no such sessions for the parents? Why was a session held for archdiocesan employees (of which I am one) detailing the curriculum recommendations, but still no such informational session for the parents? Why are the parents the last to be allowed to view the curriculum being implemented for our children, after church employees and pastors? Are these not our children?


While I have my own answers to the above questions, that is for another day. For today, I urge parents to inform themselves and prayerfully ponder their role as parents and as members of the lay faithful. I truly believe that this is the parents’ hour and that parents have a duty to respectfully speak out against this attack upon the innocence not only of our own children, but of all children of the archdiocese.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Letter from Dr. Todd Flanders


Dr. Flanders is the headmaster of Providence Academy in Plymouth. His recent comments appeared in the school newsletter and are reprinted here:


Dear families,

Many of you may be aware of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ “Charter for the protection of Children and Young People.” The document emerged as a response to what has been called “the long Lent of 2002,” when reportage of clergy abuse scandals dominated the news. The bishops since have been eager to enhance the sense of safety in Catholic parishes, schools, and activities involving the young.
Article 12 of the Charter reads: “Dioceses…are to maintain ‘safe environment’ programs which the…bishop deems to be in accord with Catholic moral principles. They are to be conducted cooperatively with parents, civil authorities, educators, and community organizations to provide education and training for children, youth, parents, ministers, educators, volunteers, and others about ways to make and maintain a safe environment for children and young people….”
This past August, Providence hosted an archdiocesan training program for our faculty, staff, coaches, and volunteers. Now the archdiocese is moving forward with implementation of the initiative for children and youth. The goal is to involve all parents and schools in the initiative in the forthcoming school year.
The archdiocese has suggested programs for use, and the Archbishop has graciously granted parishes and schools permission to petition for alternative programs, provided that the alternatives meet the requirements of Article 12. This past week, I sent a request to the Archbishop proposing “Formation in Christian Chastity,” a program that originated in the Diocese of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and is used in Arlington, Virginia and elsewhere. The program was recommended to me by our friends, the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia Congregation in Nashville, known for the strength of their Christian commitments. The Sisters operate schools throughout the U.S., including in Arlington. I have studied the program, and spoken with Harrisburg officials who co-developed it. The priests, parents, theologians, philosophers, and psychologists who assembled this program share our values at PA. Locally, I have vetted the program with trusted theologians and pastors, who are now also petitioning for its use in their parishes and schools. We are confident that it not only meets the bishops’ objectives, but correlates very well with the religious education and moral formation already happening at PA.
“Formation in Christian Chastity” is for grades 1 through 8. It is theologically and developmentally sensitive. It avoids information that might interfere with what Pope John Paul II termed “the years of innocence,” a “period of tranquility and serenity [that] must never be disturbed by unnecessary information about sex.” The beauty of childhood innocence is of paramount importance to us at PA.
Most of the program is entrusted to the discretion of parents at home, and exclusively in grades 2 through 4. School portions are similarly sensitive to the issues most imperative to PA. I invite you to examine the program, available in its totality online. Go to
www.arlingtondiocese.org/offices/protect/, and find the “For Parents” menu at the left, which links all content by grade.
I will remain in contact with you about this initiative, and will provide any and all relevant information.

Wishing you Christ’s peace,
Todd R. Flanders, Ph.D.Headmaster


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