By Rich Lowry
— New York City's public schools do a poor job educating kids. In fairness, though, that's not their expertise. What they excel at is giving out contraceptives.
If there were international comparisons of contraception access at schools, instead of math and reading scores, Singapore would have to look in envy at the achievements of New York City and wonder: What can we do to catch up? Task forces and commissions would be established to study the runaway success of America's greatest city.
New York's schools are outdoing themselves with their latest pedagogical initiative, the Orwellian-named CATCH program, for Connecting Adolescents to Comprehensive Health. "Comprehensive health," of course, means only one particular kind of health, the equally euphemistic "reproductive health."
The schools are giving children the morning-after pill without notifying their parents, let alone getting their express approval. Think in loco parentis - if the parent were the president of NARAL Pro-Choice America.
The schools already provide free condoms. Soon enough, the mere distribution of condoms will seem the hallmark of a bygone, more innocent era, like something from the plot of a "Happy Days" episode.
The program to give out morning-after pills - and other oral and injected contraceptives - is now up and running in 13 schools. It is an extension from last year's start in five schools, when more than 550 students received emergency contraception. Parents have to explicitly choose to "opt out" of the program, which, as any behavioral economist will tell you, strongly tips the balance toward its passive acceptance.
The morning-after pill, or Plan B, is a contraceptive but it is possible - although disputed - that it acts like an abortifacient as well. Its distribution is another step down the slippery slope toward the provision of abortion in the schools. If that sounds outlandish, just wait. Ten years ago, free morning-after pills with no parental notification would have seemed the stuff of dystopian social-conservative fantasy.
There can be no doubt the direction that the Big Apple's latitudinarian educrats want to go. According to Greg Pfundstein of the pro-life Chiaroscuro Foundation, one of the "homework" exercises in a proposed New York City sex-education curriculum that became controversial last year included a visit or a call to a "clinic" to find out its hours, what services it provides, and its confidentiality policy.
It can be harder to get an aspirin in some schools around the country than it is now to get Plan B in New York. The schools can give a synthetic female hormone to a girl as young as 14 without so much as a text message to her mom. If the children were given 24-ounce Mountain Dews, Mayor Michael Bloomberg would immediately cashier his schools chancellor. Such is the perverse value system of New York's nanny state that the program ran with no notice to the public - ho-hum - until the New York Post broke the story.
Surely, many parents of the kids in the affected schools aren't involved enough in their children's lives. But that doesn't mean schools should keep from them that their daughters are having unprotected sex and might be pregnant.
If easy, widespread access to contraception were the answer to teenage pregnancy, the New York schools would have solved the problem long ago. More access to the latest contraceptive technology isn't going to make a difference. It is true that the schools can't substitute for the discipline and values that kids aren't getting at home. But they shouldn't be the friend and the enabler of the sexually active teenager, either.
The schools should do everything they can to create an environment of rigor, with an overwhelming emphasis on future-oriented behavior. Instead, the New York City schools operate on the same mores as a Planned Parenthood clinic. Parents are a nuisance. No questions are asked. And teenage sex, which is inherently casual sex, is implicitly encouraged.
But don't worry. It will only get worse.
(c) 2012 by King Features Syndicate