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New Jersey Eighth-grader Has an ELA Assignment on Contracting Herpes from a One Night Stand

November 7, 2015

Addendum 11-07-15: Originally I had written that the assignment below was teacher-made. However, I have received other info to the effect that the assignment was “a supplement” to the Seven Habits book. I am trying to get a clear word on where the assignment originated.

Adding to the above, hours later:

I visited a bookstore to skim The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Teens and two associated workbooks. The assignment referred to in the original post is not included as part of these books.

Based on other information I have received, it appears that the Seven Habits book is the nonfiction selection that corresponds to a district grade 8 ELA unit entitled, “Discover Your Life’s Purpose.” It is possible that the assignment is a district-provided supplement.

For photos of the content of Seven Habits of Highly Effective Teens as pertains to the topic of sex, see images at the end of this post.


On Tuesday, November 03, 2015, an eighth grader brought the following assignment home from his language arts class at Myron L. Powell Elementary School in Cedarville, New Jersey (click on image to enlarge):

NJ ELA one night stand

The assignment reads:

You had a really rotten day, but lucky for you, your best friend is having an awesome party later. You go to the party and start drinking. You have a little too much to drink and start talking to this girl/guy you’ve never seen before. You head upstairs to get better acquainted despite several friends telling you that you don’t even know this person. You end up having sex with this person. The next day you really can’t remember everything that happened and rely on your best friend to fill you in. A week later you find out that you contracted herpes from your one night stand and that this is a disease that you will have all your life and never know when an outbreak will occur.

Thirteen-year-olds are then asked to write a “reactive response” to the scenario, which is supposed to be connected to Sean Covey’s bestselling book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Teens.

In an email, the school superintendent told the mother that her child could opt out of sex ed.

But the assignment was not part of a sex ed class. It was part of an English language arts class.

The school superintendent then excused the decidedly inappropriate assignment as part of the core curriculum. (Not sure if that “C” in “core” sould be capitalized or not.)

To read more and view a video interview with the child’s mother, Amy Loper, click this NBC Philadelphia link.


Addendum, 11-07, 6:20 p.m. CST:

The following pics represent the sex-related content of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Teens and The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Teens Personal Workbook. (There is a third book that I found, but it included no additional sex-related content.)

7 Habits covers

The pages below come from the book referenced in this post (red cover). The text does refer to one night stands and sexually transmitted diseases (pg. 78) (click images to enlarge):

7 Habits p 78

and later in the book (pgs 229-231):

7 Habits p.229

7 Habits p.230

7 Habits p.231


Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of the ed reform whistle blower, A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education (April 2014, Information Age Publishing).

She also has a second book, Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools? (June 2015, TC Press).

both books

Don’t care to buy from Amazon? Purchase my books from Powell’s City of Books instead.


From → Curriculum

  1. Laura H. Chapman permalink

    ETHICS.The principal and the teacher are incompetent. The assignment tacitly approves of teens drinking at a party then adding the risky behavior. Even in a sex ed class this would NOT be a credible written assignment. This is getting a lot of play in the press.

  2. Reblogged this on skg917.

  3. Guy permalink

    I would like to hear what the discussion was before this assignment or about the assignment when it was presented. Just looking at the prompt tells me nothing about how the teacher did or didn’t set the stage for a taught response. For instance, if they have been talking about the social expectations of peers with behaviors that are illegal and will end up with life long consequences, then the teacher has pretty much had them conditioned to give an expected answer. If none of that was discussed beforehand, I would expect the teacher to have an open discussion of how this scenario, while happening more commonly than we would like to admit, is something that is not a good idea and needs to have some serious thought and mindfulness of consequences to choices.

    On a side note, there is no suggestion or any other sign in this prompt that even remotely suggests that this is ok. It is written as if the student or any of their friends could be In This situation at any time of their school age years. Honestly, there are kids that read this and probably thought to themselves, ” hey I heard of this party just last week.” It is an issue that needs to addressed whether they are in sex Ed which is only part of the scenario or health and effects/repercussions of alcohol abuse.

    Like I said, this is not the whole story.

  4. I think the intention might have been good, but the assignment was not, especially not in an ela class. Maybe the selection of this non-fiction book was because of the 50% non-fiction common core mandate. If I wanted to deal with this issue in 8th grade I can think of several young adult books that I would suggest. But I also wouldn’t ask a whole class to read them.

  5. Dr. Rich Swier permalink

    Great. Posted:


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