Archive for the ‘Education’ category

Hyperventilating Overreactions 101

February 6, 2007

Normally, when I read A Bama Blog I just shake my head and laugh. Occasionally, though, when the rhetoric gets too overblown I may make a comment in an attempt to bring the discussion back to reality. For instance, I had to respond to this post:

Today marks the 514th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’s arrival in the New World. It’s fashionable these days to be down on Columbus and other Western explorers and colonists, but those who wallow in the mire of such political correctness always seem more than happy to reap (or sometimes, to plunder) the benefits of what those brave men of the West accomplished. Columbus and those who followed in his wake brought the gifts of Western civilization and Christianity to formerly savage and heathen lands.

I don’t know who the ungrateful fashionistas are, but I think my comment summed up the likely response to that post from all of us who not only value cars, air conditioning and democracy, but historical accuracy as well:

“Columbus and those who followed in his wake brought the gifts of Western civilization and Christianity to formerly savage and heathen lands.”

did you really write that?

i’m not going to dispute that 1) pre-Columbus America was “savage and heathen” or that it is now 2) western and civlilized, though both are very debatable. but to call the change a gift is silly indeed. a conquest yes. a gift? by no sensible definition of the term.

our ancestors did not “give” western values to the natives, they slaughtered the natives and then continued to live as westerners but in a new location. 

Today, though, I decided that instead of a chuckle or a comment, I would actually respond to one of Lee P.’s ridiculous posts with a post of my own.

Initially, I wanted to critique this one, in which he freaks out over a recent lawsuit that argued Alabama’s method of funding its colleges was unconstitutional. He’s gotten himself into a tizzy about this case in earlier screeds. Today’s does not add anything of substance, only including a list of Alabama academics who supported the plaintiff’s and then stating:

Maintaining the proper constitutional balance between the federal government and the states is essential to the Republic’s survival under the present Constitution. That these seven respected and influential professors of law and history would have us deviate so radically from that balance – while caring not a whit for the consequences – is really quite disturbing.

What I wanted to say was “Well, thank the Lord we have knowledgeable folks like Lee – who have studied at the feat of historical and legal scholars like Rush Limbaugh, Dinesh D’souza, Ramesh Ponnuru and Ann Coulter – to save us from the silly mistakes made by people like Charles Gamble, Wayne Flint and Howard Walthal.” But that would just be snarky.

I also wanted to take him to task for the overall tone of the post (and his previous one on the same topic). Basically, what the lawsuit was arguing was that Alabama’s method of funding education perpetuated racial segregation. I agree with the court, and Lee P., that the allegation was not true. Or at least the evidence was not strong enough to justify relief.

Lee, though, following in the footsteps of George Wallace, Roy Moore, and Tom Parker, seems to think that even if the allegation was true, no federal court could do anything about it. Alabama, in his view, would be perfectly free to violate the constitution. That’s where I get off the boat. If Alabama was using its tax structure to perpetuate segregation, then I agree wholeheartedly that Alabama’s funding system would have to be radically changed, even if that meant changes in the tax code. Alabama is subject to the law just like you and I are subject to the law.

But I’m not going to discuss that, either, because someone beat me to it.

The post I will discuss is entitled “Indoctrination 101.” I could not possible summarize the post in way that makes it sound any more idiotic than does Lee’s own introductory paragraph:

To find the latest example of leftist ideology masquerading as scholarship, we don’t have to go very far. Undergraduates at the University of Alabama had an opportunity this semester to register for a new class called “Modern Gay America.”

Why is Lee so upset about this class? He offers two pretexts for his opposition.


it should be a subject reserved for graduate or post-graduate work. The focus of undergraduate education should be exposure to a broad-based curriculum in the humanities, the sciences, mathematics, and history. For college students to be familiar with the text of the U.S. Constitution is essential. For them to be familiar with the subtexts of the Wizard of Oz is optional.

Again, good thing we have Lee P. to let all those silly academics know what a college education ought to include. Lee would even have to teach the class about the constitution, seeing as how he just told us that no-one in the state but him, and maybe some judges on the Eleventh Circuit, really understands it. 

Seriously, though, this class is just what Lee says an undergrad curriculum ought to include: history. From the syllabus:

Date Topic

Wed. 10/1 Introduction to the 20th century: The Early Years of Gay Life . . . 

Mon. 10/6 Gay Hollywood and the 1940’s- Kaiser Ch. 1

Wed. 10/8 The 1950’s: Early Gay Struggle and Liberation- Kaiser Ch. 2, . . .

Fri. 10/10 The Beginnings of Community: Gay Cities and Workplace Culture-Kaiser Ch. 2 Continued.

Mon. 10/13 Nature vs. Nurture: Science and Religion in Gay Life- Kaiser: pg. 52-58, [Handout]

Wed. 10/15 The 1960’s: Gay Rebellion, Stonewall 1969- Kaiser Ch. 3, (pg. 192-202), first assignment due.

Fri. 10/17 The 1970’s: Mainstream Culture and Gay Club Life- Kaiser Ch. 4 (pg.253-265)

Mon. 10/20 The 1980’s: In the Shadow of Death- Kaiser Ch. 5 (pg 275-325) . . .

That does not sound any different than, for instance, the modern south class I took as an undergrad, or the history of the Supreme Court class I took in law school. It’s just a study of how a particular group of people have lived during a particular period in history. One of the affects of the study will be a better understanding and appreciation of the group. If that group was anyone but “the gays,” I really can’t imagine anyone complaining.

Here’s the second pretext:

In fact, this course has little to do with the scholarly study of history, but is instead entirely devoted to the advocacy of a very narrow view of history in which truth is less important than dogma.

Lee P., of course, makes this judgment without having been to this class, or, I assume, talking to anyone who has. Instead he quotes the syllabus:


1) To acquire an appreciation of the diversity of American identities and experiences, particularly the lost history of Gay and Lesbian history, identity, and growth in a culture that ignored, or forget them.

2) To understand a range of cultural artifacts: novels, plays, autobiographies, memoirs, photography, film, painting, and music that one can utilize in the study of the development of an individual and unique Gay and Lesbian community during the 20th century.

3) To understand the connections between such diverse cultural spheres as popular entertainment, consumer culture, the fine arts and broader American cultural values. We also want to look at how Gay and Lesbian people working in secret helped to shape the different emerging American cultural moment that was the 20th century.

To me that course description sounds like the usual meaningless mumbo-jumbo found in any course description, and like any other course description is pretty much useless if what you want to know is what will actually happen in class.

So let’s click the mouse a few more times than did Lee P. and see what the actual subjects of this nefarious plot by the left to subordinate America to their radical homosexual agenda think about the actual class. From the Crimson White:

The class was scheduled to have 30 students, but was expanded to 40 because of the interest from students, [the teacher, Josh] Burford said.

“The most unexpected thing about this class is that I’ve had to turn away at least a dozen students,” Burford said. “It hurts me to have to tell them no, but we have limited space.”

Burford said this is the first class where most of his students never miss class, are excited about his lectures and stay after class ends to ask questions.

“What’s really nice about the class is that they’ve formed a little community,” Burford said. “I see them helping each other and hanging out together.”

Wow. Sure looks like students are voluntarily taking this ELECTIVE and benefitting from it, too. How can the students in this classroom not realize – like Lee P. in Huntsville realizes – that though they think they are using their own free will and critical thinking abilities, they are in fact being manipulated by the radical homosexual leftist communistislamofascists? Outrageous, really. Here’s the view of another young victim:

I for one am in the class and one of the straight people and also from the south. I can honestly say there is no homosexual agenda especially in this class. the class is simply trying to teach about a culture, it is no different than women studies, african american studies, or any of the other cultural studies that exist. An LGBT major is no different than any of the other new college majors and just because he isn’t a science or math major doesn’t mean his life is useless and we should cast him (and the entire community that wishes to know about gay culture) out of society.

Well, then, so much for the pretexts. I won’t speculate about the real source of Lee’s disgust. I will just offer another student’s view:

The Good Book says Adam and Eve, NOT Adam and Steve. There is enough sin on this campus with the Frats and Sororities. What we don’t need on this campus is a class that will sanction a sinful and disgusting agenda.

I will be praying for this university and all the sodomites today.

Maybe that guy ought to run for Attorney General. I bet Lee P. would vote for him. Unless he wants higher taxes.   


Even More Reasons To Home School

January 17, 2007

Loretta Nall has already highlighted this story:

Bayou La Batre parents can now be arrested and fined $100 if their children misbehave in school or have excessive unexcused absences, according to a recently passed city ordinance.

State education officials say Bayou La Batre is the only municipality in Alabama to have such a policy.

To that, Bayou La Batre Mayor Stan Wright said: “Shame on all the other cities.” . . .

Wright said it’s up to a principal’s discretion to determine when legal action is warranted. He said principals at the four schools now have forms in their offices, requesting what is known as a citizen’s arrest.

From there, a police officer would arrest the parent, who could avoid actual jail time by putting up $500 bail, Wright said. The case would eventually go to municipal court.

Bayou La Batre’s ordinance, which passed by a unanimous vote of the council back in September, is taken directly from a section of the Alabama code concerning student attendance and behavior. . . .

the city plans to arrest the parents as soon as students have five unexcused absences or the principal reports that a child is being too unruly.

“If the student misses another five days, we’ll arrest (the parent) again,” Wright said. “We’re going to prosecute them every time they mess up.” . . . .

Wright said he got the idea for the ordinance after spending time in the classroom of his daughter, who is a teacher at Booth Elementary.

“The discipline problems, the absenteeism are just extraordinary,” Wright said.

What also concerned him was the high dropout rate, which, he said, is a direct result of parents not making their children go to school. Dropout rates are difficult to calculate, but some have estimated Alabama’s to be as high as 40 percent.

In Bayou La Batre, Wright said, some parents who work in the seafood industry will take their children out of school to go fishing or shrimping.

“We’re talking 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 years of age,” Wright said.

Loretta’s take:

Future headline for the next story in this series:

“Principal gets ass kicked by parent who got a gut-full of state meddling”

I have to agree with her disgust. What galls me the most is the attitude of Fuhrer Wright.

One the one hand, he’s just appalled that a parent could possibly think anything is more important than school. How dare some PARENT decided to take THEIR kid fishing instead of dutifully delivering THEIR child into the benevolent arms of the state. Outrageous, really; who do these parents think owns their kids?

But then when said child revolts against the school, who is responsible for the kid? Well, the parent, of course. What, you thought because the school is so important and wonderful that it can put you in jail if you do not hand over your kid, that the school would also be responsible for those kids when it has them in its talons? Ha.

In short, parents, you are too incompetent to decide whether or not your kid ought to go to school, but if your kid misbehaves while at the school and out of your hands, then your are at fault for failing to use your omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient parenting skills to remotely control your child.

Fuhrer Wright also reminds us that we must submit to his authority because society would collapse without mandatory education laws. How will our children learn to reason as adults if they do not go to school? We must entrust them to our superiors. People like the good folks in this Seattle School District:

This week in Federal Way schools, it got a lot more inconvenient to show one of the top-grossing documentaries in U.S. history, the global-warming alert “An Inconvenient Truth.”

After a parent who supports the teaching of creationism and opposes sex education complained about the film, the Federal Way School Board on Tuesday placed what it labeled a moratorium on showing the film. The movie consists largely of a computer presentation by former Vice President Al Gore recounting scientists’ findings.

“Condoms don’t belong in school, and neither does Al Gore. He’s not a schoolteacher,” said Frosty Hardison, a parent of seven who also said that he believes the Earth is 14,000 years old. “The information that’s being presented is a very cockeyed view of what the truth is. … The Bible says that in the end times everything will burn up, but that perspective isn’t in the DVD.”

Yes, you need to trust the welfare of your child to the same group of people who would bow down to that kind of absolutely incredible stupidity. If the parent had said “I think the teacher only presented one side of the issue and deliberately omitted opposing scientific views” that might be something to investigate. But to ban the movie because Frosty thinks it contradicts some Biblical passage about the world burning up is just stupefying.  

I have no idea what to say, other than instead of the students learning from these folks, perhaps the parent and the board members could learn from the students:

Students contacted Wednesday said they favor allowing the movie to be shown.

“I think that a movie like that is a really great way to open people’s eyes up about what you can do and what you are doing to the planet and how that’s going to affect the human race,” said Kenna Patrick, a senior at Jefferson High School.

When it comes to the idea of presenting global warming skeptics, Patrick wasn’t sure how necessary that would be. She hadn’t seen the movie but had read about it and would like to see it.

“Watching a movie doesn’t mean that you have to believe everything you see in it,” she said.  

An attitude like Ms. Patrick’s is the whole point of an education.

Another Reason To Home School

January 3, 2007

This probably won’t bother many folks, but I think it’s interesting:

Sophomore Josh Reeves arrived at Gulf Shores High on a routine morning and was quickly summoned to the office. Once there, Reeves learned he must immediately provide a urine sample as part of the school’s random drug-testing policy. Reeves — a fullback on the Dolphins’ football team and an infielder on the baseball team — stepped into the restroom and returned to class minutes later.

“I like it because it keeps everybody straight,” Reeves said of the testing procedure. “It really didn’t matter to me. The kids that don’t do drugs don’t care about it, because they know they’re not going to get into trouble. The kids that do do drugs, they don’t like it because they will get in trouble.”

There’s also a third group of people, like myself, who really resent being treated as a criminal despite the absence of any individualized evidence, or even suspicion, that they’ve done anything wrong. Unless the authorities – in this case the school – have some concrete evidence that a particular person has violated a clear rule, then the authorities ought to be required to leave that particualr person the heck alone.

But those of us who place a high value on individual freedom and dignity have already lost the battle over school drug testing. Scotus has upheld random drug tests in schools: Vernonia School Dist. 47j v. Acton upheld tests for athletes and Board of Education v. Earls upheld random tests for students involved in any extra-curricular activities.

Both cases reasoned that because school students are already subjected to thorough control and the tests were used in a very limited manner, the tests were reasonable under the Fourth Amendment. Justice Scalia, writing in Vernonia:

Central, in our view, to the present case is the fact that the subjects of the Policy are (1) children, who (2) have been committed to the temporary custody of the State as schoolmaster.

Traditionally at common law, and still today, unemancipated minors lack some of the most fundamental rights of self determination–including even the right of liberty in its narrow sense, the right to come and go at will. They are subject, even as to their physical freedom, to the control of their parents or guardians. See 59 Am.Jur. 2d §10 (1987). When parents place minor children in private schools for their education, the teachers and administrators of those schools stand in loco parentis over the children entrusted to them. In fact, the tutor or schoolmaster is the very prototype of that status. As Blackstone describes it, a parent “may . . . delegate part of his parental authority, during his life, to the tutor or schoolmaster of his child; who is then in loco parentis, and has such a portion of the power of the parent committed to his charge, viz. that of restraint and correction, as may be necessary to answer the purposes for which he is employed.” 1 W. Blackstone, Commentaries on the Laws of England 441 (1769). . . .

Having considered the scope of the legitimate expectation of privacy at issue here, we turn next to the character of the intrusion that is complained of. We recognized in Skinner that collecting the samples for urinalysis intrudes upon “an excretory function traditionally shielded by great privacy.” Skinner, 489 U. S., at 626. We noted, however, that the degree of intrusion depends upon the manner in which production of the urine sample is monitored. Ibid. Under the District’s Policy, male students produce samples at a urinal along a wall. They remain fully clothed and are only observed from behind, if at all. Female students produce samples in an enclosed stall, with a female monitor standing outside listening only for sounds of tampering. These conditions are nearly identical to those typically encountered in public restrooms, which men, women, and especially school children use daily. Under such conditions, the privacy interests compromised by the process of obtaining the urine sample are in our view negligible.

The other privacy invasive aspect of urinalysis is, of course, the information it discloses concerning the state of the subject’s body, and the materials he has ingested. In this regard it is significant that the tests at issue here look only for drugs, and not for whether the student is, for example, epileptic, pregnant, or diabetic. See Skinner, supra, at 617. Moreover, the drugs for which the samples are screened are standard, and do not vary according to the identity of the student. And finally, the results of the tests are disclosed only to a limited class of school personnel who have a need to know; and they are not turned over to law enforcement authorities or used for any internal disciplinary function.

It sounds like the Baldwin policy is in accord with these Scotus cases. The tests are completely private, the results are not included with the student’s academic record, and then they are destroyed upon graduation. Most importantly, there is no invlovement of law enforcement.

Each student is given a unique, computer-generated number that is different from his Social Security number — a safeguard that Assistant Superintendent Terry Knight said is intended to guard against identity theft. A computer program at EDPM randomly selects the numbers. The student’s unique number — not the student’s name — is attached to the sample. “No one at the lab knows the identity of the urine sample,” Ash said.

Ash said urine samples are the most reliable form of drug testing, as opposed to blood tests or hair samples. Students being tested go into a restroom stall and provide a urine sample, Ash said, and a trained technician then takes the specimen. The urine is then divided and sealed into an A sample and a B sample. The A sample is sent to one of 61 federally approved labs for the drug screening. Ash said that the gas mass spectrometry test used to confirm results is accurate in its findings to one in 10 million.

If a test comes back positive, the student’s parent is contacted. The student is not affected by a positive result if he is taking over-the-counter or prescription medication that explains the test outcome. If a parent disputes the positive test, the B sample will be sent to a separate lab and tested with the same meticulous method. “This is designed to give the student maximum protection,” Ash said.

Drug-testing records are not attached to the student’s academic transcript, and are destroyed when the student graduates, Knight said. “We shred all of those records, and all that will be erased from the computer bank once they leave high school,” he said. “It doesn’t affect their grades in any way. The only thing it will affect is their extracurricular activities and driving. … Law enforcement will not be involved in any way.”

I can live with this. Don’t like it. Think it teaches kids they belong to the state, rather than the reverse. But I can live with it.

The End Of The Latest Monkey Trial

December 20, 2006

The Cobb County sticker case is over:

The Cobb County evolution saga is finally over, more than four years after school officials ordered stickers warning that evolution is “a theory, not a fact” pasted into thousands of science textbooks.

The end came Tuesday, when the Cobb County school board announced it had settled a lawsuit filed by parents who said the disclaimer violated the constitutional prohibition against government-established religion. . . .

In the settlement, the school system agreed not to take out or edit materials on evolution in textbooks and to pay $166,659 toward attorney fees in the case.

This is certainly a “W” for the plaintiffs. I’ve previously commented on this case, after the 11th Circuit remanded it back to the District Court for further hearings. I did not think the sticker itself was all that harmful, though I recognized the motives behind it were probably one hundred percent bad. Today’s story confirms my belief about the motives:

Marjorie Rogers, the Cobb parent who led the drive that resulted in the stickers’ placement, said she was disappointed.

“The stickers were just a compromise the school board made to satisfy those of us who were offended by the material in the textbooks,” said Rogers, a creationist.

Once again, the nefarius right not to be offended trumps education. Even better is this reaction:

Larry Taylor, one of the parents who originally lobbied the school board for the stickers, expressed frustration at the decision to settle. He blamed the American Civil Liberties Union, which represented the parents who sued the school district.

“They were trying to do the right thing,” said Taylor, a parent of three Cobb students. “It’s terrorist organizations like the ACLU that are hijacking our country’s educational system by imposing their own secular agenda on the rest of us.”

Speaks for itself, huh? Yes, an organization that uses courts to uphold the Constitution and the rule of law, that’s just like an organization that flies planes full of people into crowded office towers in order to impose its barbaric religious views on another country. And who is “hijacking our country’s educational system?” The organization that tries to make sure school science classes teach science? Or the religious nut jobs who want science withheld from all students whenever that science conflicts with their own bad theology? What an idiot.  Someone was trying to do the right thing here, but it wasn’t Larry Taylor or the Cobb County School Board.

Speech Impediments

December 11, 2006

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education has released a report about college campus speech codes. From the intro:

This year, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) conducted an expansive study of just how pervasive and how onerous restrictions on speech are at America’s colleges and universities. What we found was not good news for free speech. Between September 2005 and September 2006, FIRE surveyed over 330 schools and found that an overwhelming majority of them explicitly prohibit speech that, outside the borders of campus, is protected by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. To our knowledge, this is the most comprehensive effort yet to quantify both the number of schools that significantly restrict students’ and faculty members’ speech and the severity of those restrictions.

Highlights from FIRE’s research include:

• Davidson College in North Carolina prohibits “comments or inquiries about dating,” “patronizing remarks,” “innuendoes,” and “dismissive comments.”

• At Jacksonville State University in Alabama, students can be punished if they “offend” anyone “on university owned or operated property.”

• At the University of Mississippi, “offensive language is not to be used” over the telephone.

How anyone could think these restrictions are a good idea is beyond me. Restricting speech is dumb, and even dumberer at a college. Someone may be saying something truly stupid, but by banning it, you add the fuel of martyrdom to the fires of stupidy. And if the purpose is to protect the listener, these things are even dumber on a University Campus than they would be elsewhere. University people are supposed to be 1) open to new ideas, and 2) a bit more rational than the public at large. One means they should not be so easily “offended” and two means they are perfectly capable of rejecting truly bad ideas; i.e. they do not need protection.

But if you are going to be a fascist, at least use meaningful and objective terms in the restrictions. Those three examples, for instance, mean “don’t say stuff that whoever happens to have enforcement authority dislikes.” The “rules” are so vague that no-one can know prior to enforcement whether a particular comment breaks the rules. Every speaker speaks at his peril. (Indeed, I may have just “offended” someone by using the masculine singular pronoun.) Hence, no speech is free. And this is on a University Campus! Give me a break.  

JSU is not alone in Alabama. Auburn, Alabama, and Troy are among the 229 schools – out of the 334 surveyed – who get the lowest possible score. UAB and UAH beat them, but still get lousy scores. Only eight of the 334 had no serious speech restrictions.

The report does not include any statistics on enforcement of these restrictions. Most of them are so patently stupid that I can’t imagine anyone trying to enforce them. But if I’m wrong, I’d love to hear about it.

School Integration Cases

December 5, 2006

The question presented to the court is, basically, whether in order to integrate a public school, school officials can select students based in part on the student’s race. Thus far, it looks like the smart money is on the Seattle and Louisville school districts losing. So it will soon not only be unconstitutional to segregate students on the basis of race but also unconstitutional to do anything about existing segregation. Interesting.

Local reactions:

Three local systems, Decatur and Lawrence and Limestone counties, are under federal desegregation orders. Each works under plans aimed at making their schools more diverse.

Decatur Superintendent Sam Houston said the difference in Louisville and Seattle cases and the local cases are those two cities achieved “unitary status,” a term showing that they no longer operate under a federal court order.

“I’m not a lawyer,” Houston said. “But on the surface, it doesn’t appear our situations are the same.”

He’s probably right, for now. The new rule should not apply to districts that have yet to remedy their own historical de jure segregation. But what the cases will mean is that when the school achieves unitary status, it will probably have to stop doing everything it did to achieve that status. That is the situation in the Louisville system. What they are doing now is what they did when they were under a consent decree. But there is no more decree. So Scotus is about to tell them to quit what they are doing. Of course, what that holding will mean for Louisville and for the Alabama districts is an immediate return to the status quo ante: segregated schools.

In addition to the fascinating substance and odd impact, the case provides a test for orginalists:

The problem is that it’s almost impossible to justify striking down affirmative action programs in “originalist” terms, and the Supreme Court’s purportedly “originalist” judges have never bothered to try. If you look at the relevant jurisprudence of Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, you’ll see ahistorical assertions that the language of the 14th Amendment prohibits all racial classifications along with powerful policy arguments  against the practice, but no attempt to prove that the 14th Amendment was understood at the time of its ratification to proscribe racial classifications intended to alleviate past discrimination. And the reason for this is obvious: it is implausible in the extreme to argue that, at the time of the Reconstruction Congress, the equal protection clause was generally understood to prohibit all racial classifications.

While it’s not strictly accurate to say that you can’t defend the Thomas/Scalia position on state racial classifications in “originalist” terms, you can do so only by defining constitutional principles at such a high level of abstraction that “originalism” is essentially devoid of content. If this is what originalism means, then William Brennan can be considered an originalist, Roe v. Wade is perfectly defensible in originalist terms, etc. etc.

What? You mean Scalia and Thomas are nothing more than results oriented hacks? Those are fighting words! Publius at Legal Fiction calls this “Originalism’s Ladder.”

B’Ham Bd. Of Ed. Settles Landmark Case

November 30, 2006

I meant to put this up yesterday:

Lawyers for teacher Roderick Jackson and the Birmingham Board of Education settled Tuesday night a 5-year-old gender-discrimination lawsuit that went to the U.S. Supreme Court in 2005, lawyers for both sides said.

The school board approved the settlement after emerging from a 10-minute closed session at the end of a board meeting.

Speaking for the board, attorney Kenneth Thomas said Jackson will receive $50,000. His lawyers will receive $340,000. . . .

Jackson, then an Ensley High teacher and coach, filed suit against the school board in 2001, contending he lost his job as head coach of the girls’ basketball team after he complained that the team was being treated unfairly when compared with the boys team.

The school, of course, argued that it fired Jackson not because he complained about gender discrimination, but because he was a sorry employee. That’s what the jury would have decided if this had gone to trial. If it found that he was fired for being a bum, then the school would have won. If it found that he was fired for complaining about the discrimination, then he would have won. We’ll never know what actually happened, though, because the Board decided there was too great a risk of losing big at trial to proceed and therefore decided to settle.

That kind of lawsuit happens every day. What made this one interesting – and what got it to Scotus – was whether Jackson could even bring a lawsuit under the relevant federal law. In the normal case, the person who sues for gender discrimination is the person directly discriminated against. The typical plaintiff is someone like the members of the girls’ team in this case. Jackson, though, was not the direct victim of gender discrimination. Rather, he complained about it occurring to someone else.

The Board argued that the law did not allow suits for retaliation against whistle blowers. Scotus, in a remarkably short opinion, said, yeah it does.

Here’s the statute (28 U.S.C. 1681(a):

“[n]o person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”

The Court explained that the retaliation was “on the basis of sex” because Jackson had complained that the girl’s team received less resources than the boy’s team. And it was “discrimination” because Jackson was treated differently than other similarly situated individuals. In short:

retaliation is discrimination “on the basis of sex” because it is an intentional response to the nature of the complaint: an allegation of sex discrimination. We conclude that when a funding recipient retaliates against a person because he complains of sex discrimination, this constitutes intentional “discrimination” “on the basis of sex,” in violation of Title IX.

You may not like the statute at issue, but I think this result is the proper reading of the statute. The Court pointed out that if the statute protected people from being discriminated against on the basis of “their sex” then the result would have to be different. But it doesn’t say that. It prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex. That was exactly what Jackson alleged in this case, and Scotus was correct to let the lawsuit proceed.