Opinion: Clarion Call

What’s still OK for public schools: a scorecard

Clarion Call No. 162
The recent ruling (now on hold) by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to declare the Pledge of Allegiance unconstitutional and therefore not fit for public schools is just one of the bewildering changes taking place in our public schools. At this moment, maybe it’s time to take stock of what is — and what isn’t — allowed nowadays.

Out (possibly): The Pledge of Allegiance.

In: Anal sex education.
“Wake [County] could become one of a handful in the state where students could learn about homosexuality, masturbation, specifics on how to use birth-control devices and other topics now prohibited by the abstinence-until-marriage theme [mandated by state law]. … Even if the board rejects comprehensive sex education, it leaves in place proposed changes that administrators want to make so teacher know they can talk about a wide range of topics including oral and anal sex.” The News & Observer (Raleigh, NC), March 20, 2002

Out: Playing “Tag.”
“A Santa Monica elementary school has banned the game of tag, once synonymous with youth and innocence, because they say it creates self-esteem issues among weaker and slower children.” Fox News, June 20, 2002.

In: Playing “Jihad.”
“It has come to our attention that the Byron Union School District (“BUSD”) has instituted a mandatory course in Islam for its seventh grade students, which has led to a number of complaints by parents about violations of the parents’ and their children’s First Amendment freedoms.
“We are alarmed that this course forces students to participate in Muslim worship, including:
“Mandatory prayer ‘in the name of Allah the Compassionate the Merciful’ and chanting praise to ‘Allah, Lord of Creation’
“Requiring students to dress up as Muslims and take a Muslim name
“Urging students to state a Jihad”
— Letter by the American Center for Law and Justice, including 127,000 signatures, sent to the governor and the state superintendent of education in California, February 2002.

Out: Children’s health in the face of “zero-tolerance” drug policies.
“Just before the beginning of this school year, the Bristol Township School Board in Pennsylvania decided that students with asthma must keep their emergency inhalers in the school office, rather than on hand. … Although school officials have often taken zero-tolerance laws against drugs in schools to mean that even asthma medicine must be kept locked in the office — which obviously defeats the purpose of rescue inhalers like quick-acting bronchodilators — in the past few years many states passed bills specifically exempting inhalers from such rigidly interpreted rules. … Similar laws are in place in Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, Texas, Virginia, and Wisconsin. But ignorance and obstinacy among school officials often trump even their own local laws.” Catherine Seipp, Reason Magazine, April 2002.

In: Raising grades behind the teachers’ backs.
“Across the country, one poisonous lesson was pumped into the systems of self-esteem-inflated students: There is no such thing as failure.” Michelle Malkin, Jewish World Review, June 19, 2002. In the article Malkin lists numerous examples of low and flunking grades being changed without the teachers’ knowledge to benefit the students.

Out: Term papers.
“It seems likely that the history research paper at the high school level is now an endangered species. Focus on creative writing, fear of plagiarism, fascination with PowerPoint presentations, and lack of planning time have been joined by a notable absence of concern about term papers in virtually all the work on state standards.” William Fitzhugh, Teacher Magazine, March 2002.

In: Textbooks riddled with major factual errors.
“Twelve of the most popular science textbooks used at middle schools across the nation are riddled with errors, according to a two-year study led by a North Carolina State University researcher. …
“[John] Hubisz enlisted a team of researchers, ranging from middle school teachers to college professors, to review the 12 books for factual errors. The researchers compiled 500 pages of errors, which were boiled down to a 100-page report.” ABCNews.com, January 17, 2001.

Out: “Insensitive” words in famous texts, such as “he” and “him.”
“A lot of sensitivity censorship comes from attempts to rid famous texts of anything that looks like male dominance, not to mention offensive words like ‘manslaughter,’ ‘mankind,’ and ‘animal kingdom,’ which is classist as well as sexist. Not long ago, a publisher (Bandanna Books) put out an edition of Walt Whitman’s poetry with all references to ‘he’ and ‘him’ changed to the sensitive new unisex terms ‘hu’ and ‘hum.'” John Leo, June 8, 2002, Universal Press Syndicate.

In: The same old textbooks their parents (and theirs?) had.
“California and New York are both shortchanging school kids by failing to get them what they need most: books. … Some of the current textbooks and library books date from the 1950s and have arcana such as: John F. Kennedy is president; girls should exercise to learn how to better push vacuum cleaners; and the U.S.S.R. has 15 republics.” Investors Business Daily, June 8, 1999.

Out: More and more children, whose parents are deciding on private and home schooling for them — for some reason still unknown.