When it comes to sex education--especially appropriating federal money for it--one word can set off a firestorm of debate: abstinence. The right thinks that schools should only teach (preach to?) students not to have sex until marriage and it threw plenty of money at it during the Bush administration. The left, on the other hand, believes that instructing adolescents on safe sex methods is paramount (or at least tantamount) to the abstinence message.As noted on Newsweek's The Gaggle blog, the Obama administration, in a 2010 appropriations bill, wisely dodges the controversy about how to teach sex education and focuses on results. In a version of No Child Left Behind, the emphasis will be on statistics, specifically, a reduction in the number of teenage pregnancies (which has risen the last two years) and decreasing the spread of STDs.Thus, any program, provided it can prove its efficacy, is eligible for federal funding.I agree with the Newsweek post that this is a clever sidestep. It's also one that shows some sensitivity to the fact that different parts of the country have different risk levels for teenage pregnancy and STD transmission, allowing each of these to be addressed by initiatives that can be tailored to specific communities. While a stats-based focus isn't appropriate for all sorts of education, it seems prudent when it comes to this particular type of education.Image via Flickr user abuzavi.