Federal control over public schools has sent them into a death spiral, exemplified in the Obama administration’s new demands. Families need a new education ecosystem free from federal bullying.
The Obama administration is sending out an edict yesterday to every school district in the country, insisting they open bathrooms, locker rooms, and showers to all children, regardless of sex, or risk federal discrimination lawsuits and yanked federal funds. Schools must treat children as transgender and thus entitled to open facilities access as soon as parents say they are, not after a medical diagnosis or birth certificate change. Schools may, however, give all the other kids with healthy gender identities curtains to hide behind or license to use toilet stalls to change.
In an eerie statement, Education Secretary John King—whom leading Republicans made sure would get confirmed despite his very public failures as New York’s education commissioner including his ardent, widely opposed support for Common Core—described the situation in a way that could apply both to gender-disordered children and opposite-sex children forced to get naked next to them at school.
“No student should ever have to go through the experience of feeling unwelcome at school or on a college campus,” he said. “We must ensure that our young people know that whoever they are or wherever they come from, they have the opportunity to get a great education in an environment free from discrimination, harassment and violence.” All children should be free from discrimination and harassment. Except the at-minimum 99.7 percent of kids who aren’t transgender. They just need to suck it up.
Texas Lt. Gov Dan Patrick unwittingly provided perhaps the best response to the federal trans steamroller in a statement this week about Fort Worth Superintendent Kent Scribner’s enactment of a similar policy before this recent increase in federal pressure. Patrick first called on Fort Worth parents to fire Scribner for “plac[ing] his own personal political agenda ahead of the more than 86,000 students attending 146 schools in the district…” Then, he hit the real every mother’s reaction (translated into lawmaker): “this may be an example of the need for the Legislature to pass a meaningful School Choice Bill.”
He’s right. Given the federal government’s stranglehold over public schools, school choice programs may be the only hope for parents who want to protect their children’s minds and souls but cannot homeschool or afford private school outright—meaning, most of us.
Charter Choices Under Seige; Go Private
Financial, demographic, and political pressure has still not moved Texas from being just about the only Republican-run state in the country to not offer a private school-choice program (such as vouchers, tax-credit scholarships, or education savings accounts). Rural Republican state representatives, in whose districts public schools are a major if not the major employer, have constantly blocked such legislation. But if the Obama administration’s trans rules don’t prompt Texas lawmakers—and others—to see the myriad reasons to get skippy with school choice, nothing will.
Texas does have charter schools—independent startup public schools that nonprofits and businesses can apply to run under strict conditions. But not only has Texas not lifted a tight cap on charter school numbers despite 129,000 children on charter wait lists, charter schools do not alleviate the problem of the federal government stampeding all over parent rights. Because they are public schools and take federal funds, they are ultimately caught in the federal dragnet.
Just witness Nova Classical Academy in Minnesota, a charter school now fighting in court for the freedom to spare kindergarteners the basics of transgender theory thanks to a pair of parents who say their five-year-old is transgender and needs his classmates to be trained into believing the falsehood that sex is not biologically determined. Thispublic-school teacher reports on Rod Dreher’s blog:
My head is literally spinning with how I am going to handle this as a devout christian [sic] teacher in a public school. I had naively thought I would have time to think through what my options might be, especially since I am in an inner city school district and much of this transgender ideology is not as thoroughly accepted by the communities we serve. But I can see the train light in the tunnel now and its [sic] coming at a tremendous speed.
There’s a reason President Obama supports charter schools but not private school choice. Private school choice is much harder for the feds to control as they do public schools. Supreme Court precedent protects them, for one. Private schools have that protection, as well as First Amendment protections, and inside well-designed school-choice programs (ones that use private money only) financial protections that will allow them to create safe environments for children to learn about human sexuality free from dangerous ideologies driven by federal pressure.
That’s a strike against private-school choice for control freaks like Obama, and a strike in its favor for everyone else.
Monopoly Education Destroys American Self-Rule
I’ve long agreed with the American founders that our singular form of government demands educated citizens. It’s impossible to rule yourself, to sustain a representative republic, if you don’t know anything and if you haven’t learned good habits starting at a very young age. Ideally, public schools would protect our republic by fulfilling the dream of the Northwest Ordinance that established them nationwide back in 1787: “Religion, morality, and knowledge, being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged.”
State lawmakers need to take care of this business, for little girls’ innocence but also for the reasons this was always going to happen given our federalizing education system.
But traditional public schools have become so homogenized and centralized that they now do the opposite. On the whole, they do not promote religion; they attack and undermine it. They do not promote morality; they decimate it. They do not promote knowledge; the predominant, progressive philosophy of public education today is literally anti-knowledge. “You can Google things—you don’t need to know them offhand,” educrats tell us.False.
It is not, overall, the teachers’ fault that schools are such a mess. They just do what they are told, and try their darndest to bring love and light to needy little children. It is predominantly the bureaucrats’ fault, and the fault of lawmakers who continue to enable a system that is ultimately damaging our own country. Our state lawmakers have been trading integrity for 30 pieces of federal silver now for years. That’s how we got to a world in which one man can tell the nation’s little girls they need to get used to the sight of pricks.
State lawmakers need to take care of this business, for little girls’ innocence but also for the long pre-existing reasons this was always going to happen given our federalizing education system. Monopolies and cartels drive up price and drive down quality, partly by providing an easier target for special-interest dominance. While driving down the quality of widgets is bad enough, driving down the quality of thought and culture is in another, far worse, category entirely. A country like ours cannot survive when we financially and culturally enable ideas that will ruin us.
The way to drive out bad ideas is to make them compete with good ones. Parents don’t want their kids to get a crappy education. Teachers don’t want to give it. But both are largely constrained by the magnetic pull of the biggest game in town. Just consider thatonly 36 percent of Americans would choose a traditional public school if they could (financially and geographically) choose any kind of school. The other 64 percent would prefer to enroll their kids in a charter, private, or home school. Yet 84 percent of U.S. kids attend a regular public school.
What’s the Breaking Point If Not Child Abuse?
Before the transgender madness hit, parents already had many reasons to prefer a different education arrangement. Common Core alone has prompted a surge in homeschooling. Families have proven remarkably willing to overlook the many long-standing major faults of public education, largely because it’s “free.” Paying for private-school tuition or homeschooling will require major changes for many families.
I would move to Australia, quit my job, and live on rice casseroles to keep my daughter from having to shower next to a naked penis-bodied being, and even to keep my small children from being told in preschool and kindergarten about anal sex and condoms; that’s a far bigger deal than Common Core. My children will not be assaulted with notions about sex that will undermine their ability to have a satisfying marriage and sex life.
And neither should yours. Mary Hasson explains how pervasive transgender ideology is—it’s not just about gender fluidity. It covers everything, including messing with a child’s sense of objective reality and curbing free speech and critical thought:
The Massachusetts policy systematically foists a perverse orthodoxy on every teacher and child within the system. It promotes the core belief – the big lie – that there is no such thing as human nature or natural distinctions of male and female. Instead, the Board of Education embraces the idea that each person is a god unto him or herself, creating a gender identity and sexual expression based on feelings, or one’s ‘internalized sense’ of self, regardless of biology.
The indoctrination (‘education and training’) will be part of every Massachusetts school’s ‘anti-bullying curriculum, student leadership trainings, and staff professional development.’ And the Massachusetts Board of Education clearly expects all students and teachers to get with the program. The entire school community must help create a ‘safe and supportive’ culture for transgender and gender non-conforming students.
Dreher brings it home:
Don’t be fooled: the bathroom issue is a proxy for a deeper conflict over what it means to be male and female, and beyond that, about fundamental human nature. These standards are collapsing in American society in part because of elites pushing against them, but also — and perhaps moreso — because radical individualism is going into hyperdrive. We call it freedom — freedom to choose who you are, with neither custom, nor religion, nor even biology standing in the way of your will. But here’s what’s going to happen. People who submit to this way of thinking will find that their freedom, so construed, will make it impossible for them to construct a coherent, stable identity. They’re not going to make it. This perversion of liberty will wreck them.
Public Schools Are a Lost Cause
Because of the federal pressure, this will be in every public school eventually. Lawsuits will take years and eat up millions of taxpayer dollars, only to succumb to Justice Kennedy’s penchant for making up excuses to cover his desires to remake America’s sexual ethics.
There are few escape routes. Trans activists are not interested in compromise, as Kelsey Harkness reports in a thorough and sensitive article in The Daily Signal: “We truly do care about these children who struggle with gender identity, and these children are welcome in my home,” said a mother who with 50 other parents and students is suing an Illinois school district to prevent the girls from having to shower with a boy. “All I ask is that the respect go both ways. That’s what we’re not seeing. We’re just seeing demands.”
The group’s lawyer said “the folks driving this agenda on the other side from us won’t accept anything other than full access to the opposite-sex restroom and locker room as the solution, and what happened at District 211 is proof positive of that. They gave Student A accommodation after accommodation after accommodation, and ultimately the [U.S Education Department] said no, full access is the only thing that’s going to solve the issue.”
And let’s be real: If this sort of thing doesn’t motivate parents, nothing will:
My 14 year-old daughter is on a swim team with the NYC parks department where she practices at one of the public indoor pools. She is one of the older kids, with the youngest teammate a 7 year old. Today she informed us that just as she finished getting dressed after practice, a middle-aged man came out of the showers. He had a towel on so she couldn’t confirm if any surgery had been done (now there’s a conversation I never thought I’d be having with my kid) but besides his very large, breast-less male body type, bald head and mens’ shoes he was putting on, there was no question in her mind that he was a man. And she observed that the younger girls (remember, one’s a 7 year old girl) were
staring with concerned expressions.
Parents need to be transferring this pressure right up to their lawmakers in demands for wide-open school choice, stat. This is likely to be a far less divisive legal avenue than conscience protections and bathroom bills (although those are worthy fights, too). While more than half the states have school-choice programs, lawmakers have handicapped them by limiting access and funds. Indiana has the nation’s largest school vouchers program, and just 3 percent of Hoosier kids are enrolled. Lawmakers need to stop congratulating themselves for peanuts like this and start getting serious, because the other team is playing to win, and they’re willing to use innocents as human shields.
Further, the nation’s impending fiscal collapse combined with the reality that education comprises at least half of most states’ budgets but will be squeezed to death if things continue as they have been, thanks to our aging population’s array of welfare programs like Medicare and Medicaid, means school choice is also a desperately needed economic win. Patrick is right. The best time to have addressed this was decades ago. The second-best time is now.
Joy Pullmann is managing editor of The Federalist, an education research fellow at The Heartland Institute, and author of the forthcoming “Coretastrophe: What Common Core Means for America’s Future,” from Encounter Books.
charter schools Dan Patrick homeschooling LGBT Obama Administration public schools school bathrooms School Choice Trans trans activists trans bathrooms U.S. Department of Education