imageThere's a reason I've never believed that schools are hotbeds of liberalism, indoctrinating children in ungendered, hypersensitive hairshirt bubbles: they have this odd penchant for treating kids like they're in maximum security lockup.


An assistant principal, enforcing the school’s antidrug policies, suspected her of having brought prescription-strength ibuprofen pills to school. One of the pills is as strong as two Advils.

The search by two female school employees was methodical and humiliating, Ms. Redding said. After she had stripped to her underwear, “they asked me to pull out my bra and move it from side to side,” she said. “They made me open my legs and pull out my underwear.”

Ms. Redding, an honors student, had no pills. But she had a furious mother and a lawyer, and now her case has reached the Supreme Court, which will hear arguments on April 21.

(I'm not sure why they tossed the honors student part in there. If she did poorly in English class, it wouldn't have been any more okay.)

Praise be to Black Jesus, I actually agree with Ed Morrissey for the most part - it was a gross violation of her civil liberties, regardless of what kind of student she was. But reading through the comments, there's a definite undertone that this is somehow the creeping hand of the liberal state acting in loco parentis, the unfettered power of teachers' unions reaching in and giving little fiefdoms to overzealous employees. Except that this was a vice-principal, who's not a member of the teacher's union, not being a teacher and all.

What happened to this girl was totally illiberal, and I don't mean that in the typical classical liberal/hierarchical superiority way, wherein you just say that Thomas Jefferson wouldn't have done it, so there and I smell like sunflowers. I mean it in the very real 21st-century liberal/progressive way, wherein the general way that liberals run things doesn't involve assuming that 13-year-old girls are smuggling industrial-strength Advil in their panties. Conservatism has a stronger authoritarian bent than liberalism (it's the whole "daddy party" thing). While a commitment to public schooling falls heavily on the liberal side of things, the use of authority in running schools cuts both ways. There's a reason conservatives like packing school boards to get stupid things taught. There's a reason that abstinence-only classes became federal education policy.

Based on no evidence whatsoever other than anecdotal experience (read: data), school administration and boards tend to skew more conservative than they do liberal, or at least have a great penchant for ostentatious displays of terrible conservative ideology. It's why we have zero-tolerance policies in schools across the country: it's not a particularly liberal idea that a child who brings a knife to school for a project should be expelled, it's not a particularly liberal idea that we strip-search girls and subject lockers to random searches by the police. It's why teaching science in science classes is still a massive public debate, it's why schools crack down on nonexistent rainbow parties.

The myth of public schools' liberalism comes largely from the presence of unionized teachers and the belief that talking to hormonally-driven teenagers who do stupid things should involve more than sternly wagging our fingers and saying "no" as we would to a puppy chewing on a book. Much like the media, the conservative voice in public schools is far greater than they'd ever admit - it's just that it often turns out so poorly that it behooves them to pretend as if it's a myth.