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Public School Fail Obama-Style

Let's see if I get this right.

Education Department officials are threatening school principals with lawsuits if they fail to monitor and curb students' lunchtime chat and evening Facebook time for expressing ideas and words that are deemed by Washington special-interest groups to be harassment of some students.

[F]ederal officials have reinterpreted the civil-rights laws that require school principals to curb physical bullying, as well as racist and sexist speech, that take place within school boundaries. Under the new interpretation, principals and their schools are legally liable if they fail to curb harassment of students, even if it takes place outside the school, on Facebook or in private conversation among a few youths.

School officials will face lawsuits even when they are ignorant about students' statements, if a court later decides they reasonably should have known about their students' conduct, said the statement.

Following the discovery of harassment officials may have to require mandatory training of students and their families …. The school may need to provide training or other interventions not only for the perpetrators, but also for the larger school community, to ensure that all students, their families, and school staff can recognize harassment if it recurs and know how to respond … [and] provide additional services to the student who was harassed in order to address the effects of the harassment.

I am going to read about this for years from the Rutherford Institute. And, no matter how well-intended, this is as thoroughly stupid as Obama's kissing of Hollywood's ass through his so-called copyright czar. But it is being put in place for the same reason: Obama wants to make his homosexual supporters happy, just as the copyright czar is there to make Hollywood happy.

The results of such policy, if it is ever implemented (assuming someone does not pre-emptively challenge it in the courts first), are evident.

Principals will thwart any Federal intervention by expelling the student troublemaker. It is cheaper to kick out the kid than to go through all that expensive mandatory training crap. It is cheaper to deal with a lawsuit from the kid's parents than a lawsuit from the Federal government, especially as funding for public schools is drying up everywhere.

Parents may thwart any Federal intervention by pulling their child(ren) out of the public schools and either send them to private schools or instruct them at home. Citizen abandonment of public education is a hippopotamus in the drawing room, which nobody wants to talk about but which is hard to avoid anyway. Federal interference will make that hippo a whole lot bigger.

Facebook's aid to principals in hunting down and expelling troublesome students with features that will make it harder for principals to miss episodes of online harassment will come back to bite its ass. Kids will soon know better than to gather on Facebook, whose monitoring of candid comments could get them kicked out of school. Kids will seek other venues, making the social network unpopular among the young. The smarter ones may even create their own, resulting in scores of new social networks out there, few of which will be willing to cooperate with school or government.

The Federal government will open itself to new attacks: From libertarian and religious liberties groups out to defend free speech and religious freedom (most religions regard homosexuality as a sin); from rightist political groups who regard the decree as a leftist plot to suppress the rights of their children on campus; and from State and local governments who regard the decree as just another unfunded mandate they can ill afford. Then there is Congress, whose House of Representatives is now crawling with Tea Partisans. They will certain try to cut off funds to the Education Department, the source of the decree, in order to thwart the will of Obama.

Public education in the United States has suffered for the past century from a swarm of fads and movements purporting to improve education, improve the children, improve society, or to improve whatever else needs improving. Their premises are faulty or even false, assuming that the schools should do more than teach children literacy, numeracy, history and basic science. The result is that American public schools fail: They fail at the things the reformers and the movementarians want them to do; and in the process they fail to do what they are supposed to do — to teach.

Written by Andy West on 17 September 2010.