Time to ‘Go Galt’ on the Public Schools

The current public school system is a mess; maybe the only way to true reform is competition in the form of school choice.

By Heather Wilhelm Published on April 22, 2016

On Tuesday, a federal appeals court in Richmond, Virginia ruled that a local school district must teach their students that up is down, right is left, 2 + 2 = 5, and that Kim Kardashian and Miley Cyrus serve as perfect models of refinement, good taste and aesthetic restraint.

Fine, fine, I’m paraphrasing. What the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit actually ruled was that, as the Washington Post reports, “a transgender high school student who was born as a female can sue his school board on discrimination grounds because it banned him from the boys’ bathroom.”

Further, the Post notes, the court “deferred to the U.S. Education Department’s position that transgender students should have access to the bathrooms that match their gender identities rather than being forced to use bathrooms that match their biological sex.” The Obama administration, meanwhile, “has said that requiring transgender students to use a bathroom that corresponds with their biological sex amounts to a violation of Title IX, which prohibits sex discrimination at schools that receive federal funding.”

Gavin Grimm, the student in question, is a female-to-male transgender student undergoing hormone therapy. After baffled and unhappy parents complained about Grimm using the boys’ restroom, the school offered access to a gender-neutral restroom instead. That seemed like a nice and considerate thing to do, but no dice, my friends — Grimm was “humiliated,” and we were off to the legal races. Grimm didn’t simply want peaceful bathroom access, apparently: He wanted to see his gender identity validated by other students, the school administration, and, apparently, the U.S, Constitution.

I tire of writing about bathroom wars as much as I tire of writing about Donald Trump: Deep down, I’m betting, many Americans wish both issues would simply disappear. The Virginia case’s practical impact outside of Grimm’s school district is yet to be seen, but if you’re a public school parent hesitant about self-declared “girls” with fully intact male apparatus joining your daughter in the locker room shower, you might want to take note. Odds are, to quote radio host Erick Erickson, you will be made to care.

It’s fascinating to see the “right to privacy” — trumpeted as the right to end all rights by leftists for the past three decades — fall behind a new, swiftly evolving “right”: The right to not only have your own version of reality, but to also have it forcefully validated by those around you. If you think the public schools aren’t religious, you’re kidding yourself: In its current dogmatic “you must agree” incarnation, transgenderism is a faith, not science. Unfortunately, it’s a highly intolerant faith, and it’s quickly creeping into public schools.

Sadly, at this point, there might not be much left to do but vote with your feet. The term “Go Galt,” which comes from Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, refers to citizens retreating from a political system that basically takes their money and otherwise does them no good. As an aside, I’m not an Ayn Rand fan: She was a grumpy misanthrope, a libertarian control freak who somehow failed to realize that you can’t really be a libertarian control freak unless you dis-invent irony, and a writer of nightmarishly awkward sex scenes.

But no matter your demographic, and beyond the current bathroom insanity, odds are the public school system isn’t doing you any favors. If you’re a poor kid in the inner city, the damage and injustice is obvious: How an absurd system segregating school quality based on wealth and zip code made it this far in America is beyond me. The fight for school choice, not transgender issues, as the Obama administration insists, could be the civil rights issue of our time.

Meanwhile, not content to simply teach math — or perhaps convey what socialism actually means, so that future supporters of a Bernie Sanders-esque administration might understand why everyone is suddenly so poor — the federal government’s education wing is busy trying to figure out how to mine psychological data from your kids. The Strengthening Education Through Research Act, which recently passed the Senate on a voice vote, would, among other things, do just that. Slightly spooky? Sure. Completely unnecessary? Absolutely. But hey, at least we’ll have inclusive showers in middle school locker rooms!

“If you send your kid to a private school,” Slate’s Allison Benedikt wrote in an essay-gone-viral in 2013, you are “a bad person … ruining one of our nation’s most essential institutions.” News flash: The public school system is already a mess, it’s getting messier, and it can only improve the old-fashioned way: competition. That means supporting politicians who champion school choice for all students; private donors should also consider stepping up their support for private school scholarships. In the meantime, buckle up: The silliness is sure to continue.


Heather Wilhelm is a writer based in Austin, Texas. Her work can be found at  http://www.heatherwilhelm.com/ and her Twitter handle is @heatherwilhelm.

This article originally appeared at RealClear Politics April 21, 2016 and is reprinted with permission.

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