WS>>Does The 4th Amendment Cover Schoolchildren?

carl william spitzer iv cwsiv_2nd at JUNO.COM
Sat May 3 22:17:02 MDT 2003

Looks like Ashcroft is trying to bring back the hitler youth programs.

          From: eagle at

          by: Phyllis Schlafly

          The  liberals  have been going all out to  protect  the
     privacy of individuals against government efforts to  ferret
     out  al Qaeda sleeper cells that might be plotting  to  kill
     us.  But there is one thing I don't understand:  why  aren't
     they  just  as solicitous to preserve the  Fourth  Amendment
     rights of U.S. citizens who attend public schools?

          Requiring  schoolchildren to respond to nosy  question-
     naires has been a pervasive abuse of children in the  class-
     room  for more than two decades. The federal  Protection  of
     Pupil  Rights  Amendment  was passed in 1978  to  stop  this
     practice, but it has never been enforced and its very exist-
     ence  is  a  rather well-kept secret  despite  thousands  of
     complaints by parents and a few lawsuits.

          The  stated  rationale for demanding  answers  to  nosy
     questionnaires is that schools and academics need the infor-
     mation for research and to develop curriculum. It would seem
     that  interrogating terrorism suspects in order  to  prevent
     future crimes would be a more compelling purpose than acade-
     mic peeping-Tomism.

          A  nosy questionnaire to be given in April to  students
     in  Fairfax County, Virginia recently stirred up a  hornet's
     nest.  The  169-question survey asks  children  about  their
     sexual  activity, drug and alcohol use, whether or not  they
     have considered suicide, and other personal matters.

          It  should be no surprise that parents complained  they
     didn't  want their children asked nine nosy questions  about
     sex such as "Have you ever had oral sex?" and "The last time
     you had sexual intercourse, what one method did you or  your
     partner use to prevent pregnancy?"

          The  Fairfax survey comes from an  organization  called
     Communities  that  Care (CTC), which claims the  survey  was
     used in 128 sites in Pennsylvania and is now being given  in
     400 sites nationwide. Hiding behind all the do-good rhetoric
     about promoting "positive youth development" and  "identify-
     ing community challenges," the real purpose is to use survey
     results to get government grants to finance useless programs
     about sex and drugs that masquerade as "education."

          These  survey  questions sound a  lot  more  personally
     intrusive of our constitutional right to be "secure" against
     "unreasonable searches" than asking terrorism suspects  whom
     they conspired with and how they got their money to  travel.
     Why  aren't the people who are so concerned about the  over-
     reaching  of  PATRIOT  Acts I and II  also  concerned  about
     intrusive interrogations of schoolchildren?

          In  January,  parents in Ridgewood,  New  Jersey  filed
     their  second  lawsuit against the school district  about  a
     second  nosy questionnaire given to schoolchildren.  Seventh
     and  eighth  graders  were required to  answer  55  personal
     questions  about  their use of illegal  drugs  and  alcohol,
     sexual  and illegal behavior, then write their names on  the
     survey and turn it in for credit.

          Here  are some questions asked in that New Jersey  sur-
     vey.  "Are  there  guns in your home or the  homes  of  your
     friends?"  "Do  you often think about yourself  in  negative
     terms (stupid, worthless, unlovable, etc.)?" "Are you engag-
     ing in risky sexual behavior (multiple partners, no  protec-
     tion from STDs or unwanted pregnancy, etc.)?"

          The  survey also required children to inform  on  their
     own  family's misbehavior. A typical question was,  "Do  you
     have a parent, grandparent, brother, sister, aunt, or  uncle
     who is an alcoholic?"

          This survey was given even though litigation was alrea-
     dy  pending about a 156-question  self-incriminating  survey
     given  in  the same Ridgewood schools in 1999.  The  earlier
     survey asked students as young as age 12 "How many times, if
     any,  in the last 12 months have you used LSD?", "Have  your
     ever  tried to kill yourself?", and how many times have  you
     "stolen  something from a store?" or "damaged property  just
     for fun?".

          In  December  2001, the U.S.  Department  of  Education
     determined  that  the giving of this  survey  without  prior
     written parental consent violated the federal Protection  of
     Pupil  Rights  Amendment. The same month,  the  parents  won
     their  appeal  in the U.S. Court of Appeals  for  the  Third
     Circuit,  enabling them to go forward with discovery to  get
     all the facts out on the table about nosy questionnaires  in

          Parents' persistence also persuaded New Jersey to  pass
     the Student Survey Act requiring schools to obtain  informed
     written parental consent before giving surveys or tests that
     ask for information about political affiliations, potential-
     ly  embarrassing mental and psychological  problems,  sexual
     behavior  and  attitudes,  illegal  or  self-  incriminating
     behavior, or critical appraisals of family members. The bill
     was vetoed by New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman  in
     2000,  but it was re-passed and signed into law by  the  New
     Jersey Governor in 2002.

          Despite  parental complaints, despite  adverse  rulings
     from  the federal appeals court and the U.S.  Department  of
     Education, despite federal and state laws, the public school
     establishment is determined to continue this abuse of child-
     ren in the classroom. Schoolchildren deserve greater protec-
     tion of their privacy than terrorists.

          Eagle Forum * PO Box 618 * Alton, IL 62002
          Phone: 618-462-5415 * Fax: 618-462-8909
 * eagle at

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