- - Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Fads were once a rite of the young, but were rarely held to be a civil right. Swallowing goldfish, raiding women’s dorms for panties and packing large numbers of students into telephone booths were harmless, though not to everyone’s taste. The U.S. Department of Education’s “guideline” that public schools must make restrooms and shower facilities to girls and boys on a first come-first serve basis is silly, inexplicable, and not so harmless to privacy and good order, but there may be relief for offended parents and their children.

Some parents have threatened to withdraw their children from public schools, since so far the Obama administration has not sought to apply its co-ed restroom preference to private schools, where parents can be reassured that modesty will be preserved and values of privacy and self-restraint, which parents seek to instill in the young, will not be undermined.

It’s increasingly difficult for public schools to do that. The public schools are at the mercy of the teachers unions — not necessarily the teachers but their unions — and every sordid pressure group that can think up an “offense” to be redressed. Schools have become the battlegrounds in the culture war. Teaching something useful has often become an afterthought.

One virtue of private school alternatives (and home schooling) is that transgender policies, condom distribution, and the imparting of ideology are left to the parents and the private institutions. Schools can formulate their policies on sexual identity, and how to accommodate the latest fad in the educational curriculum is left to parents.

The original idea behind public schools was to promote the common values, to impart the ancient truths of civilized man and to teach children to be good and informed citizens. Public schools have become overly regulated by the federal government, meant to impart nonsense, as the latest Department of Education diktats illustrate.

Wealthy families can put their children in expensive private schools, as Mr. and Mrs. Barack Obama have done, and many middle-class families scrimp and sacrifice to send their kids to private alternatives. Many other parents can’t afford to pay both taxes to finance the government schools and private education for their children. The evolving system of universal education has become separate and unequal, with the poor among us stuck in schools with teachers who can’t teach.

With President Obama’s crusade to make the urinal free to all comers, millions will be required to send their children to schools which they believe promote unsafe and immoral behavior. Inner city parents are likely to be unhappiest of all with restrooms designed only to appease the transgendered.

Vouchers have succeeded as a way to give access to real learning in many cities, such as the nation’s capital, and giving families the freedom to choose is a way to leave decisions on restrooms, morality and safety to parents — who are, after all, most concerned with the welfare of their children.

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