by Brian Koenig
The U.S. Department of Education, under the guidance of ED Secretary Arne Duncan, has released a “Dear Colleague” letter with a pamphlet to support academic achievement for pregnant and parenting students under Title IX.
The document was submitted to school districts across the nation to offer information on “school retention” issues relating to problems with young parents and pregnant mothers. While the directive focuses primarily on secondary schools, it also applies to post-secondary institutions that receive federal financial assistance.
“We need to do more to help the hundreds of thousands of students who become mothers and fathers each year graduate from high school ready for college and successful careers,” Mr. Duncan affirmed. “We must support pregnant and parenting students so that they can build better lives for themselves and their children.”
The letter offers some interesting advice (or directives, rather), such as the illegality for “schools to exclude pregnant students (or students who have been pregnant) from participating in any part of an educational program, including extracurricular activities.”
So the Education Department is mandating that pregnant students cannot be excluded from anyextracurricular activities, including interscholastic sports (it’s in there). The “female student playing football” charade has already surfaced. The verdict on pregnant female students being permitted to play football is in: If she wants to be the high school’s next star quarterback, she’s made the team.
The safety concerns regarding this particular provision are just playing hooky for the day.
A dramatic scenario, maybe, but the point is clear: Political correctness trumps sound reasoning.
But, naturally, there’s more: “[A] student who is pregnant or given birth may not be required to submit medical certification for school participation unless such certification is also required for all other students with physical or emotional conditions requiring the attention of a physician.”
In effect, they must be treated the same as other students.
Sort of. But not really, because… Schools must offer special assistance to pregnant students, such as providing a “larger desk,” or allowing “frequent trips to the bathroom,” or permitting “access to elevators” that may otherwise not be available to other students.
Antagonism is not lost on today’s education system.
And don’t forget this directive also applies to post-secondary institutions, such as colleges and other higher-education institutions. So if Joe Fratboy decides he needs a couple of months off school, he must not be “discriminated” against. Moreover, whether Joe Fratboy takes time off from his studies, his absences must not be penalized. That, it sure seems, is what the ED indicates, considering this applies to pregnant students and “young parents” of post-secondary institutions as well as secondary schools.
Sure, some of the pamphlet’s provisions are vague, and up for slight interpretation, but they surely chain the hands of school officials. The Department of Education is, as usual, discounting the “common sense” factor in achieving academic success. After all, as the pamphlet notes, “When a student returns to school, she must be allowed to return to the same academic and extracurricular status as before her medical leave began.”
Thanks, Mr.Duncan, for another brilliant maneuver.