Don’t Regulate Sex in Schools! Give Parents Choice Instead

(Guest post by Greg Forster)

As always, we like to avoid the really hot, controversial issues here at JPGB.

OCPA carries my latest, in which I argue that parents worried about how schools handle sexuality and gender issues should fight for school choice, not for a futile new command-and-control regulatory regime:

We could adjudicate the merits of all these individual cases. In some I think the traditionalists’ concerns are valid; in others I think the traditionalists go too far. I’m never shy about stating my views on sexual morality; if you want to find out what they are, be my guest. For now, though, I’m more interested in why this is happening—and, in particular, why a century of fighting about sex in schools seems to have produced nothing but more fighting about sex in schools….

Like it or not, the modern world is persistently pluralistic. We can no longer assume that our neighbors believe the same way we do about the things that matter most in life. Partly that’s a direct result of the American experiment in religious freedom; people who disagree about God are going to disagree about many other things as well—about sex perhaps most of all, since sex has been closely tied to the sacred in all human cultures. And partly it’s a side effect of economic and technological development, which makes it much faster and cheaper to make radical changes in how we see ourselves and how we live. In a world where teenagers literally carry a phone-shaped window to the entire world around with them in their pockets all day, it’s unreasonable to expect the same kind of homogenous communities that used to be normal.

Choice would be more effective (more than zero definitely counts as “more”) in giving parents real control over education, and would have other benefits as well:

Above all, this would restore the bond of trust between parents and schools. Parents would know that their children were receiving an education they support. Schools could finally get a break from being constantly torn to shreds by culture warriors trying to seize control of them, and get back to teaching.

And—don’t miss the importance of this—students would know that the messages they hear about sexuality in the classroom are also supported at home, and vice versa. They would grow up in a morally coherent social world, instead of growing up amid constant fighting between competing authority figures over which morality is right. I’m a traditionalist on sexual issues, but in my opinion, children are much more harmed by growing up in an environment of moral incoherence and conflict between authority figures than in an environment of stable, coherent progressivism. 

Let me know what you think!

2 Responses to Don’t Regulate Sex in Schools! Give Parents Choice Instead

  1. Malcolm Kirkpatrick says:

    Educational choice is a panacea.
    Humans have devised no more effective institutional accountability mechanisms than policies which give to unhappy clients (customers, employees, investors) the power to take their business elsewhere.
    Choice mechanisms include:
    1. Charter schools
    2. Tuition vouchers
    3. Education Savings accounts
    4. Education tax credits
    5. GED at any age and subsidized apprenticeship to age 18
    6.GED at any age and subsidized post-secondary tuition to age 18
    7. Subsidized homeschooling
    8. Parent Performance Contracting (PPC. Search “The Harriet Tubman Agenda, The Proposal”).
    These mechanisms offer different advantages and disadvantages in terms of the costs and incentives that they create for students, parents, current system insiders, and politicians.

  2. Malcolm Kirkpatrick says:

    We agree; don’t get into the weeds of discipline policy, CRT, sex-ed, the Math sequence, phonics vs. Whole Language, etc. Choice is a panacea.
    The question then becomes: “Why do so many Republicans
    not seize the moment and support subsidized escape options?
    The current moment reminds me of the 2016 Presidential election, when only Trump was willing to run on immigration policy.

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