The liberals have been going all out to protect the privacy of individuals against government efforts to ferret out al-Qaeda sleeper cells that might be plotting to kill us. But there is one thing I don't understand: Why aren't they just as solicitous to preserve the Fourth Amendment rights of U.S. citizens who attend public schools?
Requiring schoolchildren to respond to nosy questionnaires has been a pervasive abuse of children in the classroom for more than two decades. The federal Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment was passed in 1978 to stop this practice, but it has never been enforced and its very existence is a rather well-kept secret despite thousands of complaints by parents and a few lawsuits.
The stated rationale for demanding answers to nosy questionnaires is that schools and academics need the information for research and to develop curriculum. It would seem that interrogating terrorism suspects in order to prevent future crimes would be a more compelling purpose than academic peeping-Tomism.
A nosy questionnaire to be given in April to students in Fairfax County, Va., recently stirred up a hornet's nest. The survey's 169 questions ask children about sexual activity, drug and alcohol use, whether or not they have considered suicide, and other personal matters.
It should be no surprise that parents complained they didn't want their children asked nine nosy questions about sex, such as "Have you ever had oral sex?" and "The last time you had sexual intercourse, what one method did you or your partner use to prevent pregnancy?"
The Fairfax survey comes from an organization called Communities That Care, which claims that the survey was used in 128 sites in Pennsylvania and is now being given in 400 sites nationwide. Hiding behind all the do-good rhetoric about promoting "positive youth development" and "identifying community challenges," the real purpose is to use survey results to get government grants to finance useless programs about sex and drugs that masquerade as "education."
These survey questions sound a lot more personally intrusive of our constitutional right to be "secure" against "unreasonable searches" than asking terrorism suspects whom they conspired with and how they got their money to travel. Why aren't the people who are so concerned about the overreaching of PATRIOT Acts I and II also concerned about intrusive interrogations of schoolchildren?
Phyllis Schlafly is a national leader of the pro-family movement, a nationally syndicated columnist and author of Feminist Fantasies.
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