The reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind Education Act offers Congress a splendid opportunity to enforce parental rights that have been outrageously trampled on by public schools.
When the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the parental right to control the upbringing of their children "does not extend beyond the threshold of the school door," the House erupted in unprecedented bipartisan criticism. On Nov. 16, 2005, by a vote of 320 to 91, the House passed House Resolution 547 to reassert the settled law of the Meyer-Pierce doctrine affirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court in the 1920s.
Because Congress is doling out hundreds of millions of dollars a year to public schools, it's perfectly proper to attach strings to the receipt of taxpayer money. The easy way to do this is to require all schools receiving federal funds to sign compliance statements similar to the compliance statements by which grantees pledge not to discriminate on account of race or sex.
In November 2005, the House passed the Child Medication Safety Act, sponsored by Rep. John Kline, R-N.M., 407-12. If this bill had become law, it would have prevented public schools from denying entry to a child whose parents refuse to medicate him with psychotropic drugs - such as Ritalin. Such a lopsided majority proves that this type of legislative defense of parental rights is possible even in the Democratic-controlled Congress.
The most urgent need now is for Congress to require public schools to sign a pledge that no child can be denied entry because of refusal to be vaccinated against human papillomavirus, and also require that any school with an HPV program can offer the vaccine only on a parental "opt in" basis, not "opt out." Congress should also require that schools get written parental consent before subjecting children to mental health screening.
Although the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals softened its bombastic "threshold" rhetoric after Congress lambasted it, the court did not change its ruling that a public school can impose on students "whatever information it wishes to provide, sexual or otherwise."
Five federal circuits have handed down anti-parent, pro-public school decisions, and not one of them even offered parents an "opt out" option to the courses or materials that parents found offensive. In Kentucky, a federal court put its stamp of approval on a public school forcing students and staff to watch a one-hour video that included dogmatic claims that homosexuality is immutable and that it is wrong to object to the gay lifestyle.
Phyllis Schlafly is a national leader of the pro-family movement, a nationally syndicated columnist and author of Feminist Fantasies.
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