Politics & Policy

The Transgender Straw Broke the Camel’s Back: It’s Time to Declare Independence from Public Schools

(Crystal Srock/Dreamstime)

You may not have realized it yet, but the Obama administration just destroyed the traditional American public school. Without an act of Congress, without a ruling from the Supreme Court, and without even going through the motions of the regulatory rule-making process, the administration issued a letter drafting every single public educational institution in the country to implement the extreme edge of the sexual revolution.

The Department of Justice and the Department of Education have declared that they now “interpret” federal law to not only support the fantastical notion that boys can become girls but also to impose new legal requirements that impact every aspect of school life. The administration’s letter sweeps far beyond bathrooms — imposing a new speech code on school employees and even students, opening girls’ showers to boys, requiring schools to allow boys to sleep in girls’ rooms on overnight field trips, requiring boys to room with girls even in single-sex dorms, and putting boys on girls’ sports teams.

Moreover, schools are prohibited from making any inquiry to ensure that the boys using girls’ facilities are, in fact, transgender. They can’t ask for medical documentation. They can’t ask for treatment information. They can’t ask for identification. They have to take the boy at his word.

And yet the administration’s letter isn’t significant just for what it says — it’s significant for what it means. The federal government can and will use extralegal means to override local control, the rule of law, and even the Constitution itself when social justice demands it. That principal you love? He’s not in control of your school. The great school board you just elected? They’re puppets. The teacher your child bonds with? She doesn’t run her own classroom.

The federal government can and will use extralegal means to override local control, the rule of law, and even the Constitution itself.

And the political fights are only escalating, with local school boards exercising decreasing amounts of control over curriculum, textbook selection, and school policies. The progressive thumb is always on the scales, often nudging and sometimes shoving instruction in a comprehensively leftward direction: Islam is wonderful and peaceful. American history is a story of unrelenting repression and intolerance. Academic standards and in-school discipline matter less than social and racial justice. Orthodox Christians are bigots.

The majority of families are left with no meaningful choice. Only small minorities have either the time and ability to homeschool or the resources to send their children to private schools. So during the school year, Americans hand their children over to educators who often spend more waking hours with their kids than parents do.

RELATED: The Obama Administration Provokes a Legal Crisis — the War against North Carolina

Private-school families face a double burden — paying the property taxes that keep the public schools afloat while also paying private tuition. At my kids’ school — a very reasonably priced private school in Tennessee — parents make enormous sacrifices for the sake of independence and for the sake of teaching God-honoring values.

#share#The stakes are now clear: We must fix our education system or slowly but surely lose our culture. Indeed, virtually every other conservative endeavor — whether it’s winning elections, transforming media, or infiltrating pop culture — will fail if the entire edifice of public education is arrayed against us. The system, however, can’t be reformed from within: It’s stacked top-to-bottom with progressive activists even in red states.

We must fix our education system or slowly but surely lose our culture.

So that means creating a new model. States should consider rejecting federal education funding entirely (Texas is considering doing just that). At the very least, charter schools should be completely disentangled — and not just from public employees’ unions but also from federal funds (in order to insulate them from federal influence); voucher systems should be dramatically expanded — giving every family the option to spend their share of tax dollars at the school of their choice; and private institutions and philanthropists should step up to provide needed funding. Indeed, private citizens don’t have to wait for government reform. Scholarship funds can expand the ranks of tuition-paying private-school students immediately, and coalitions of churches can provide substantial support for their communities’ best private schools.

RELATED: Transgender Activism Has Produced a Legal Absurdity

America’s fractured Evangelical community still has enormous resources to allocate, but has traditionally showed little unity of purpose. However, in communities where pastors know and trust each other, joint effort isn’t just possible but arguably necessary.

Pastors and families often idealize the public-school experience, calling it a “mission field,” and holding out hope that their children can be “salt and light” in a difficult environment. But the process of education largely involves one-way communication, with the teachers and administrators seeing the students as their secular “mission field.” Isolated young children are more vulnerable than powerful, and I’ve seen many parents come to grief as fully indoctrinated, peer-pressured kids make mistakes with lifetime consequences.

It’s not enough to sue the Obama administration, to protest, or to vote. It’s time to create and sustain excellent, accessible, and fiercely independent alternatives to the government’s schools. If we don’t, we lose. It’s that simple.

David French — David French is a senior writer for National Review, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, and a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

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