Regardless of one’s views about transgender issues, it’s clear the Obama administration’s edict Friday – requiring all 13,506 U.S. school districts to give transgender children access to the bathrooms, locker rooms, showers, and sports teams of their choice – proves the federal government has too much power over American schools. Evan Wilt reports at World:
‘The federal government is reinterpreting statutes, saying what they mean, with no warrant other than their own political will,’ said Jeremy Tedesco, senior counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom. ‘People don’t understand the unprecedented nature of what’s going on and how dangerous it is for freedom.’
Tedesco told me the Supreme Court will have to decide whether sex means biological male and female, or something else. Meanwhile, he said federal agencies continue to abuse their power in an unmatched fashion by forcing institutions to comply with their own interpretation of the term.
Others agree the debate is about more than which bathroom Americans use – it’s about what power the federal government has to enforce its own ideology.
The rules, which the administration promises to enforce by yanking funds from and suing school districts that don’t comply, include language controls saying school staff should refer to children using the pronouns the children choose. The rules also preclude schools from making different kinds of accommodations for all the kids affected by sharing private facilities with a transgender student, such as providing unisex or private bathrooms and the like, either for transgender children or others uncomfortable with undressing nearby.
Neal McCluskey at the Cato Institute steps back from the culture war to focus on the policy problems that keep fueling it. Central to these is the fact that the federal government can bully every public school in the country into its vision of how people should run intimate details of their lives. What fuels the culture war like perhaps nothing else is putting the force of government behind one side. McCluskey writes of a simple solution:
allowing private entities to choose their own policies is consistent with individual liberty, including freedom of association and religion, while it is much better suited to enabling people with competing values to peacefully co-exist. There is no zero-sum contest: Those who want an open bathroom policy could choose schools in which all the staff and families also embraced it, while those feeling more comfortable with bathrooms and locker rooms restricted by biological sex could go to schools with like-minded people.
SOURCES: CNN, Cato Institute, World magazine
IN THIS ISSUE:
- MISSOURI: Lawmakers are considering a proposal to give children education savings accounts funded not by tax dollars, but by private donations donors can deduct from state tax bills.
- RESEARCH: School vouchers significantly improve students’ academic achievement, finds the first meta-analysis of international high-quality studies. Jason Bedrick helps explain the results, and a study coauthor explains why this study is of higher quality than the others to this date.
- NEW YORK: Special-needs children are more likely to do well if they attend charter schools, finds a data analysis.
- DC: In this charter school, children and their parents take classes together. Besides its preschool–grade 12 offerings, the school teaches English and job-skills classes to adults.
Common Core and Curriculum Watch
- TESTING: Although it has long been common for states to release their test questions for transparency and so students can study, a federally funded Common Core organization is instead taking legal action against people who discuss its tests, even when they don’t post actual test questions.
- MASSACHUSETTS: Gov. Charlie Baker is listening to poor advisors on the state’s Common Core dispute, says Sandra Stotsky.
- ALASKA: The legislature has passed a bill affirming parents’ rights in education, including the right to opt children out of tests.
- PRESCHOOL: Contrary to early education activists, research shows government preschool is generally ineffective and may even harm children, finds a new report.
- WISCONSIN: A transgender student has filed a federal complaint over being asked to use a private bathroom.
- UNIONS: Tax documents show U.S. teachers unions are funding faux grassroots organizations that agitate for socialist-leaning policies. A similar dynamic has helped fuel campus protests.
- SAT: Scores for the newly revamped SAT have been released, and higher overall scores are leading some to suggest the test has been dumbed down yet again.
- EDTECH: Allowing students to use internet-enabled devices in class substantially reduces their learning, finds a Massachusetts Institute of Technology study. Negative results of tech use are common, in fact.
- TEST SCORES: Read Jay Greene’s latest rejoinder in an ongoing debate over whether test scores are a good metric to use when judging schools.
- PENNSYLVANIA: Gov. Tom Wolf is promising to veto a bill that would allow school districts to lay off teachers according to criteria other than seniority.