SENDING WASHINGTON AN "EDUCATIONAL" MESSAGE
In case someone out there still can't see the urgency of yanking the kiddies out of public schools - either home-schooling them or placing them in a good private school - you might just want to take a look at last week's newspapers.
Let's see: In Virginia, we have sex felon Edward Lee Hopkins, 18, convicted of sodomizing a 12-year-old boy last February. Hopkins somehow had his 21-year prison sentence completely suspended so that he might undergo psychiatric "treatment" instead. Meanwhile, he's back at George Wythe High School, caught Wednesday, June 2nd, engaging in "consensual" sodomy with another 16-year-old Special Education student right in the classroom!
Where was the teacher? Who knows?
Then we have two teenagers from Oxen Hill High School in Suitland, Maryland, arrested for the murder of senior student, Michael Bassett, over a girl he was innocently offering to buy a Slurpee for at a local 7-Eleven store.
Two middle school 14-year-olds in Winder, Georgia, have just been found guilty of a May 14 conspiracy to pull off a Columbine-inspired mass murder. Two girls testified they saw a gun in one of the boys' lockers. These fine young gentlemen reportedly planned to kill as many people possible. Their punishment - pending a "social history" on them by psychiatrists: At-home confinement and ankle monitoring bracelets! Doesn't that make you feel warm and fuzzy?
Count on these fellows being back in class next year.
Over the past four weeks, there have been three incidents in the District of Columbia involving warring gang-members, most of whom share classrooms (whenever it suits them) with children just like yours. Remember, the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act precludes expelling delinquents - on the grounds that they may be suffering from mental illness. The stray bullets from these "troubled" students' guns have shattered neighborhood windows, killing innocent children as they watch television and adults going about their daily chores.
I've lost count of the reports involving teachers raping students; pupils assaulting teachers; administrators and teachers dealing in child pornography; kids downloading porn into their classroom computers; and curricular activities built around topics like homophobia, condoms, racial tension, suicide, depression and, well, just about everything except solid academics.
And we won't even talk about dress codes out of Lower Slobovia. One 11-year-old, Ella Gunderson, of Redmond, Washington, was so fed up with hooker-chic that she wrote a letter to the head of Nordstrom's Department Store complaining that the only things she could find to wear in her size and department were low-riding jeans and skin-tight tops. She said the implication was that there is "only one look" - that girls "are supposed to walk around half naked."
Well, of course. That's what public schools have been, in effect, subsidizing for years.
The bottom line is that the government schools are completely out of control in most localities - and even where they aren't, there's a pervasive, anti-intellectualism and spiteful kiddy subculture that are part and parcel of the school environment. All public school students have to contend with this toxic culture.
The Southern Baptists, whose Project Rescue 2010 is encouraging parents not to send their kids back to the public schools next fall (www.GetTheKidsOut.org), are not the only ones who have "had it" with government-subsidized education. Even liberal parents and agnostics increasingly are recognizing that public schools are dangerous places, physically and emotionally, and that their youngsters don't know nearly as much as their parents did at the same grade levels.
Here in the Washington, DC, metropolitan area - among the most politically liberal localities in the nation - there are, ironically, hundreds of private schools from which to choose, and the competition to get a child accepted is fierce. In fact, that is pretty much the case in major metropolitan areas up and down the East Coast. Parents soon learn that they need to start applying and interviewing while their children are still toddlers if they expect to place them in a non-public-school environment.
Even that may not suffice. The process is grueling, with dozens of visitations, forms, references and parent-written essays for each school on a father's or mother's "wish list." No longer is entrance a simple matter of obtaining literature and selecting from the various promotional materials.
Why would liberal parents, especially those in Congress who pretend to be such strong supporters of public education, go to all this trouble? Simple. They don't want their own children saddled with that mess! Yet, they loudly condemn school choice schemes like vouchers and tuition tax credits.
Of course, vouchers, like charter and magnate schools, introduce tax money into schools. This eventually turns the schools that choose to accept pupils from such programs into carbon copies of the public schools - i.e., entities without autonomy. But that is not the reason liberals don't support vouchers and other schemes that would allow less well-endowed parents to choose better options. Liberal politics is all about perception, and liberal legislators think if they pretend to support public education, they will get the support of teacher unions. They gamble that most voters won't ask where legislators send their own kids.
The best approach, of course, would be for Congress and the state legislatures to remove the red tape from launching private schools and to stop interfering in home schools. That way, the supply of alternatives would multiply and eventually bring down costs. But liberals don't like free-market concepts such as supply-and-demand; they prefer elitism - with themselves at the top.
Unfortunately, the long-term solution of non-interference doesn't help the majority of parents right now, regardless of where they happen to be on the political, religious or socio-economic spectrum. American taxpayers have put up with one fiasco after another in the name of improving education for 40 years. Yet, it has not improved. Not the curriculum. Not the tests. Not the learning environment. Not the quality of teachers. (Indeed, who, in their right mind, would even want to teach in a public school these days?)
Meanwhile, Liberty Legal Institute's chief counsel, Kelly Shackelford, has been reciting to a U.S. Senate panel a virtual laundry list of previously unheard-of anti-religion abuses, a war waged under the umbrella of "state-sponsored religion": schoolchildren prohibited from handing out candy or cards bearing religious messages (or anything that might be interpreted as a religious message), public school districts that bar administrators from sending their own children to Christian schools, and religious seminaries punished for failing to get state approval of their boards and curricula.
The message in this plethora of anti-religion legislation is clear: Religious tenets carry no authority and, therefore, even the appearance of legitimacy must be scuttled. What does government have to offer as substitutes? Ankle bracelets. Metal detectors. Suspended sentences. Jailhouse-chic dress codes.
No wonder the recent news items from Virginia, Maryland, Georgia and the District of Columbia are becoming par for the course nationwide.
It's time for responsible adults to draw a line in the sand. Parents must start saying "no," and do it right now. It's summertime; you have time to plan for this. The only way Washington and the state legislatures are going to get the message that America's backbone, its real tax base, isn't putting up with bad schools any more is to take the kids out en masse.
Even if you have to send your children to a private boarding school, or get a group together and home school them, your children - and you - will be better off in the long run.
Look at it this way: You can pay now, or you
can pay later - when your kids are traumatized, in trouble, can't
get into college, can't get a job … or are dead. That's what it
has come down to.
© 2004 Beverly Eakman - All Rights
Beverly Eakman is an Educator, 9 years: 1968-1974, 1979-1981. Specialties: English and Literature.
Science Editor, Technical Writer and Editor-in-Chief of official newspaper, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, 1974-1979. Technical piece, "David, the Bubble Baby," picked up by popular press and turned into a movie starring John Travolta.
Chief speech writer, National Council for Better Education, 1984-1986; for the late Chief Justice Warren E. Burger, Commission on the Bicentennial of the US Constitution, 1986-1987; for the Voice of America Director, 1987-1989; and for U.S. Department of Justice, Gerald R. Regier, 1991-1993.
Author: 3 books on education and data-trafficking
since 1991, including the internationally acclaimed Cloning
of the American Mind: Eradicating Morality Through Education. Executive
Director, National Education Consortium. Website: BeverlyE.com
"The bottom line is that the government schools are completely out of control in most localities - and even where they aren't, there's a pervasive, anti-intellectualism and spiteful kiddy subculture that are part and parcel of the school environment. All public school students have to contend with this toxic culture."