In California, a federal court approved the public schools' requirement that a course in Islam be taught to 7th-graders. The course included giving the students Muslim names, having them recite Muslim prayers and passages from the Koran, wear Arab clothing, and write a "positive" essay about Islamic culture. Parents lost their case and the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear their appeal. Where is the American Civil Liberties Union when we need them to assert separation of church and state - or is that phrase used only to silence Christians?The aforementioned "threshold" case and a much-litigated case in Ridgewood, N.J., both involved a privacy-invading, self-incriminating nosy questionnaire about teenage sex and use of illegal drugs, which the schools required students to answer. Again, parents were not accorded any right to opt-out or even to be informed in advance about the objectionable survey.
The T-shirt cases illustrate the hypocrisy of the schools and the courts. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court ruled against parents in upholding the power of a public school to prohibit a child from wearing an anti-homosexual T-shirt, even though the school was carrying out a pro-homosexual program and even though the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court had held that a public school could not ban an anti-Bush T-shirt. Congress could require public schools to confirm that they have a policy of requiring parental permission for a student to join an extra-curricular school club, like a law just passed in Utah. This could safeguard students from being recruited into high school gay clubs.
One more rider that Congress should add to the education bill is a requirement that schools give parents a yes-or-no choice about putting their children into "bilingual education." That language apartheid is a federally funded mistake which keeps children speaking a foreign language for years, thereby making it extremely difficult to assimilate into U.S. culture. Parents are looking for advocates in the new Congress, and they don't care whether they are Republican or Democratic.
Who will answer their plea for help?
Phyllis Schlafly is a national leader of the pro-family movement, a nationally syndicated columnist and author of Feminist Fantasies.
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