New Dissection Policy for Madison Metropolitan School District

New guidelines at MMSD ask teachers to send letters to parents prior to animal dissections.
Source: Channel 300

The following messages were sent to Madison Metropolitan School District Principals and Department Chairs from Patti Schaefer, Director of STEM:

Messages to Principals

In response to families requesting information about dissection activities in science classrooms, we are asking science teachers to provide clear communication to them. We ask that all teachers send information home to families prior to conducting any dissection activities or demonstrations in science classes. A sample letter has been provided to Instructional Coaches and Department Chairs. . . The C&I team is available to support teachers in planning alternate learning activities for students as needed.

Messages to Department Chairs and Coaches

In response to families requesting information about dissection activities in science classrooms, we are asking science teachers to provide clear communication to families. All teachers should send information home to families prior to any dissections in classes (this pertains to the cow eye dissection in the 8th grade FOSS unit). You may use this sample letter for reference.

In the sample letter, parents and guardians are told:Your child is presently enrolled in (name of course) in which animal dissection is part of classroom instruction. Dissection is defined as “the manipulation of preserved animals or animal parts for scientific study, which includes incising and may be followed by inspecting, touching, handling, and mounting.”

Students may be provided alternatives to animal dissection should their parents wish their child to abstain from these activities. Alternatives to animal dissection may include but are not limited to : computer programs, plastic models, videos, and charts. Alternative dissection techniques are designed to provide the student with knowledge similar to what is expected to be gained by students in the course who perform, participate in, or observe the dissection.

Students who have opted out of animal dissection exercises are given information on specific activities and resources to use as their alternative assignment. These students are also provided assistance with their alternate task. Students who perform alternative projects and do not perform and witness the dissection of animals shall not be penalized.

Please contact your child’s science teacher if you would like alternatives to be provided in place of classroom dissection activities.”

What does this mean?

This means that you must be notified if your child will be expected to take part in or watch dissection activities in science classes. Also, school board policy states that students who choose not to participate will be provided equally educational alternatives to dissection as needed.

Please be sure to talk with your children about the guidelines.

Thank you MMSD School Board 

MMSD’s population includes a variety of cultures with diverse religious, moral, or ethical beliefs regarding animals and many students at all levels are uncomfortable with the use of animals. Thank you to the School Board for conveying to parents that students need not compromise personal beliefs in order to learn science.