The Obama team likes to present itself as nonideological. Whatever works. Respect science. Realism and pragmatism are to rule the day. We’ve heard it for a year now, though in practice the Obami seem much less receptive to evidence that conflicts with deeply held beliefs. For example: they don’t have much patience for news about Climategate, and their foreign policy seems to be based on a systematic denial of all available evidence about our foes and their fundamental interests. Well here is a new test for the self-proclaimed opponents of ideology. The Washington Post reports:
Sex education classes that focus on encouraging children to remain abstinent can convince a significant proportion to delay sexual activity, researchers reported Monday in a landmark study that could have major implications for the nation’s embattled efforts to protect young people against unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases.
In the first carefully designed study to evaluate the controversial approach to sex ed, researchers found that only about a third of 6th and 7th graders who went through sessions focused on abstinence started having sex in the next two years. In contrast, nearly half of students who got other classes, including those that included information about contraception, became sexually active.
The administration cut more than $150M in abstinence programs. What now? Will they put the funding back and cut programs shown to be less effective — you know, in the name of fidelity to scientific research? Some are urging them to do just that:
This takes away the main pillar of opposition to abstinence education,” said Robert Rector, a senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation who wrote the criteria for federal funding of abstinence programs. “I’ve always known that abstinence programs have gotten a bad rap.”
Even long-time critics of the approach praised the new study, saying it provided strong evidence that such programs can work and may deserve taxpayer support.
We shouldn’t get our hopes up. After all, this is the gang that cut the voucher program for D.C. schools even after studies showed the program’s effectiveness. But perhaps even the Obami can learn. As Hillary Clinton put it: “Let’s put ideology aside. That is so yesterday.” In this case, let’s see if they mean it.