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Vol. LXII, No. 29
 
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
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Princeton Public Library Hosts Author of Novel About Sex Ed Teacher

Ellen Gilbert

Stuart Nachbar described his new (and first) book, The Sex Ed Chronicles (iUniverse $16.95), as a “fun story, especially for a Presidential election year.”

During a recent “Writers Talking” program at the Princeton Public Library, Mr. Nachbar, a Rutgers graduate, described his keen interest in what he calls “education politics.” Chronicles, for example, tells the story of a young journalist in the 1980s who fights to save a sex ed teacher’s career (he also happens to be in love with her). Besides the hot-button issues associated with sex education at the time, the question of student free press rights also comes into play .

The author, a native of Monmouth County who has degrees in political science and urban planning as well as an MBA, has worked as an urban planner, government affairs manager, and software executive. Formerly a senior vice president of College Central Network, a New York-based developer of online resources for college and university career centers, he currently produces Educated Quest (www.EducatedQuest.com), a blog that offers and invites commentary on education, public policy, and technology.

Comedy

The amusing tone of The Sex Ed Chronicles is established early with a foreword by Mr. Nachbar’s childhood friend, the “award-winning comedian,” Sam Fedele. “Stuart graduated with honors and I finished with relief,” Mr. Fedele recalls of their high school years. “I was the loud outgoing jock and class clown while Stuart was studious, unassuming, intelligent, and just a little bit nerdy.”

A key figure in Chronicles is a wealthy widow, described by Mr. Nachbar as “a composite of Phyllis Schlafly and Anita Bryant,” who heads the Parents Alliance for Schools and Teachers (PAST). The group stands up against the then-new Family Life Education Act, which required that every school had to have a K through 12 sex education program. They also want to bring creationism back into the classroom. Although Mr. Nachbar said that he used real-life events, like the anti-sex ed demonstrations that occurred in Mattawan at the time, he noted that there actually was relatively “little well-organized opposition to sex education in New Jersey. There was never a state-wide movement as there was elsewhere.”

Works in Progress

After reading several passages from The Sex Ed Chronicles, Mr. Nachbar talked about his second and third novels. The nearly completed second, Defending College Heights, is “the story of an Irish Catholic family and a college administration in the aftermath of the murder of an Army Recruiter.” His third book takes place in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, a place beleaguered by its historic importance(some see it as “a ward of the government,” observed Mr. Nachbar), and souvenir shops. Set against this backdrop is the story of a basketball team’s quest for a championship. Mr. Nachbar had fun with this book, too, using the names of Civil War generals for some of the secondary characters.

As for the subject of his newly-published novel, Mr. Nachbar said that he believes in teaching sex education, but emphasized that it must be done correctly. “It’s like driver’s ed,” he commented. “If you don’t teach it well, someone’s going to crash.”

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