President Obama has met the law of unintended consequences. The Presidential decree prohibiting public schools from discriminating against those students that self-identify as transgender by forcing them to use the bathroom that corresponds to their biological gender effectively creates a political firestorm from what was essentially a non-issue for schools. "There is no room in our schools for discrimination of any kind, including discrimination against transgender students on the basis of their sex," Attorney General Loretta Lynch said. "This guidance gives administrators, teachers and parents the tools they need to protect transgender students from peer harassment and to identify and address unjust school policies." The USDOE and the DOJ created a tag-team to body slam schools that might resist their social engineering efforts by threatening to withhold Federal funds from schools, districts or states that disagreed with the policy. DOJ and Education Department officials repeatedly emphasized that their interpretation of Title IX, the federal anti-discrimination law in education, is that schools receiving federal funds may not discriminate based on a student's sex, including a student's transgender status.
Members of Congress, as you might expect, immediately objected. Sen. Lamar Alexander, the chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee stated "This is the kind of issue that parents, schools boards, communities, students and teachers should be allowed to work out in a practical way with a maximum amount of respect for the individual rights of all students. Insofar as the federal government goes, it's up to Congress to write the law, not the executive departments.”
I don’t think most people are concerned with the possibility of of criminal behavior from the kids suffering from gender confusion or an advanced form of identity crisis. Most people are concerned with perverts that would take advantage of such a situation by intruding themselves into what has been one of mankind’s most private and gender specific moments. We all go to the bathroom, but are reluctant to talk about it or share our experiences with anyone but Mom or a doctor.
To have the President make such a declaration on behalf of the 0.2 or 0.3 percent of the population seems sort of like killing ants with B-2 bombers. You can do it, but it’s probably not the best use of the resources at your disposal. It’s also a textbook illustration of the law of the hammer as attributed to Abraham Maslow; "I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail."
So just how much money does Georgia get for educational purposes from the Federal government, and how would schools be affected if Georgia education leaders told the President that he wasn’t about to dictate who could pee where?
In 2012, Georgia received somewhere in the neighborhood of $2 billion for education from the Federal government, primarily in funds from the USDOE for students with disabilities, money to assist low income students and schools and districts, school nutrition and a few other services. In 2015 the amount was around $1.7 billion. Those dollars have increased in relative importance for school districts over the last 15 years. Look at it this way; in 2002 there were about 1,460,000 students in Georgia public schools. In 2016 that number rose to over 1,749,000 students. Georgia spent $15,000 per student (FTE) in 2001, but that amount has dropped to just under $8,000 per student for FY 2017. We won’t argue about the reasons for that reduction here; just remember that Governor Deal likes austerity cuts so much that he calls a reduction in those cuts an increase in educational funding.
Suppose that Georgia political leaders make a stand on the bathroom issue and tell the President and John King and Loretta Lynch that Georgia students are going #1 and #2 where they have always oned and twoed and the Federal slice of Georgia’s educational pie gets taken away. Don’t think for a minute that anybody anywhere in Georgia can expect Georgia politicians to close the Go Fish Georgia Educational Center to help make up for the loss of Federal dollars or that local funds can come anywhere near making up the deficit. That means three things for every Georgia school district.
First, school breakfast and lunch programs will either close or become dependent on local or state money. Considering some of the recent nutritional offerings as a result of The First Lady’s foray into the public school nutrition program that may not seem like a bad thing until you consider that in many poor and low income areas school breakfast and school lunch are just about the only meals a lot of kids can count on. How many of these schools continue the breakfast and lunch programs during the summer for those very reasons? A bunch.
Second, let’s take a look at the services for students with disabilities paid for with Federal dollars. Most public schools in the US indicate their SWD populations at or near 13% of the total student population. 1,749,000 students in public schools in Georgia times .13 equals 227,370 Georgia kids with learning disabilities of varying types. As a general rule, the more severe the student disability or handicap the more money it requires to provide a free and appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment. That’s Federal law, ladies and gentlemen, and required under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, originally enacted by Congress as the Education for All Handicapped Children Act (EHA) in 1975 and revised a couple of times since then. The goal of IDEA is to provide children with disabilities the same opportunity for education as those students who do not have a disability. This is not an optional provision for local schools or districts. The act requires that “public schools create an Individualized Education Plan for each student who is found to be eligible under both the federal and state eligibility/disability standards.” Don’t kid yourself. That’s expensive on every level. What will happen when the money disappears? That part of the law will not go away, but once again will have to come from local and state funds.
The third loss will come in the form of Federal Title I funds. Title I funds are Federal money distributed through the GADOE “to local educational agencies and public schools with high numbers or percentages of poor children to help ensure that all children meet challenging State academic content and student academic achievement standards.” These funds provide teachers, equipment and materials to low income students, and are in addition to any funds provided by the state to help students in poverty. They also provide remedial services and after school programs in many schools.
These are the very funds that the President, the Secretary of Education and the Attorney General say they will cut in the name of transgender bathroom equality. Any way you look at it, that’s bullying. Picking on the very students that can least afford it, creating a mountain of Federal rulings that will, in appearance and effect come at the expense of those at the financial mercy of the government for food and FAPE should be called what it is. www.stopbullying.gov says that bullying is “unwanted, aggressive behavior among school aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time. Both kids who are bullied and who bully others may have serious lasting problems.”
So let me see if I have this right - the President says he thinks we need a new bathroom policy because somebody might not get to pee where they really want to, and to enforce it he will use the power of the Federal government to take away funds that provide meals for poor kids, teachers and equipment and programs for students in poverty and money that is used to help educate students with disabilities. Sounds to me like somebody needs to tell the President about bullying being a national problem….and not just with kids. To borrow Mr. Twain’s observation “the departmental interpreters of the laws in Washington ... can always be depended on to take any reasonably good law and interpret the common sense all out of it.” To threaten to take away Federal funds for the neediest of students over an issue that can best be solved at a local level is not leadership, but bullying at its basest level. It would also be, if enforced as promised, child abuse on a national scale.