Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Local schools increasingly under the thumb of the federal government

Commentary by James Shott

A video produced and distributed by Restore Oklahoma Public Education (ROPE) contains information that should concern all of us. The organization focuses on local control of education, and highlights issues it finds objectionable. This video highlights a survey being given to 6th graders at St. Mary’s Parish, Louisiana without parents’ knowledge or permission.

It features a mother, Brooke Falgout, who has pulled her daughters from St. Mary’s public schools after she learned of objectionable questions on a school survey one of her daughters had taken upon entering the 6th grade, which the daughter didn’t mention to her mother because she didn’t want to upset her. However, Mrs. Falgout became concerned when another mom told her about the survey.

She said the survey asked questions such as:
    •    Have you ever looked at porn? How did it make you feel?
    •    Would you ever take pictures of the girls in the locker room and put them on social media?
    •    Is your mom a good mom? Does she spend time with you?
    •    Do you get snacks after school?
    •    It asked personal questions about mom and dad, their family life and “how it goes.”

She thinks such questions are out of line, and suggested that a 6th grade boy who never thought about porn before, and didn’t know what porn was, has now been made aware of it and as a result may be interested in it.

When she asked school officials about the survey, Mrs. Falgout said they told her that the kids really didn’t have to answer the questions. But she said they were given the survey and most likely did read it, and may not have realized they shouldn’t answer the questions.

Mrs. Falgout said that the school caused a breach between her and her daughter, evidenced by the fact that her daughter was reluctant to even discuss the survey with her mom.

Information presented at the end of the video explains that these surveys “are normally given to satisfy federal data collection for the Office of Safe & Drug Free Schools and also an FCC Internet ‘safety’ requirement.”

The ROPE video advises parents to tell their children to refuse to take these surveys, and that “parents have the right to educate their children in the way they see fit. Public schools cannot force children to do anything against the wishes of the parent.”

There are competing perspectives on this particular issue and others of similar nature. The important question is, which topics are genuinely the proper business of school officials, and which are clear invasions of the privacy of individuals living in a free society?

The public schools operated by the individual states are increasingly under the thumb of the federal government, as the statement in the video demonstrates.

Another example of unwarranted and unwelcomed intrusions comes from the “Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, which took effect July 1. This law makes illegal “any foods and beverages sold to students on school grounds that are not part of the Agriculture Department’s school meal programs.”

Prior to this law taking effect, the USDA only controlled food in school cafeterias, but the new law expands federal control to food anywhere on campus during the school day. While it hasn’t yet banned school bake sales for fund raising, Margo Wootan, director of nutrition policy at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, indicates that eventually it will, and also will eventually control food sold at school sporting events any time, at any location.

Given the abundant evidence of federal over-reaching, it is not beyond comprehension that some day if you have forbidden food products in your glove compartment or trunk on school property, you might have violated a federal law.

The federal government believes it can dictate to schools owned and operated by the individual states what food they may or may not serve, among other things. Is there any limit to the government’s hunger to control everything? Apparently not as long as federal money is involved, and schools do rely heavily on federal funding.

It gets worse: A Richmond, Virginia pre-school sent a message home to parents, part of which said: “I have received word from Federal Programs Preschool pertaining to lunches from home. Parents are to be informed that students can only bring lunches from home if there is a medical condition requiring a specific diet, along with a physicians note to that regard.”

Just how the federal government regards the freedom for Americans to make basic decisions about life is revealed in an argument government attorneys put forth defending the Food and Drug Administration’s ban on the interstate sale of raw milk: “There is no 'deeply rooted' historical tradition of unfettered access to foods of all kinds … Plaintiffs' assertion of a 'fundamental right to their own bodily and physical health, which includes what foods they do and do not choose to consume for themselves and their families' is similarly unavailing because plaintiffs do not have a fundamental right to obtain any food they wish."

That statement is breathtaking in its ignorance of our history and values, and in demonstrating the boundless arrogance of the federal government.

Cross-posted from Observations

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