IF YOU STILL NEED A REASON TO REJECT GOVERNMENT SCHOOLS
It didn�t surprise me when an Associated Press story appeared August 25th announcing that the expulsion of 14-year-old Anthony Latour from a Pennsylvania school for writing vulgar and violent rap lyrics last March had just been overturned by a U.S. District Judge on First Amendment grounds, and that the lad was ordered readmitted at the start of classes the following week. No doubt the youngster�s classmates will benefit greatly from his presence in their classroom.
While allusions to Christianity -- spoken, written or visual -- are forcefully and noisily removed from government-school premises, the malicious and disdainful lyrics of rap �artists� and their disciples are enshrined in constitutional holiness.
Of course, the omnipresent leftist organization, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), was on-hand in a heartbeat to represent the reprehensible young devotee of so-called �battle-rap,� a term used to dignify this ridiculous �music genre,� in which wannabe rock stars compete for their admirers� attention using violent and lurid insults.
Given that this particular ditty included verbiage about shooting up classrooms and other students, even the usually tolerant education administrators were put off and cited �terrorist threats� to get rid of Anthony. Had they been in London, England, this August instead of in Riverside Beaver County, USA, last March, such a charge might have flown, inasmuch as incitement to terror in England, after the subway bombing scare, is presently deemed a criminal act. But, alas, the �caring professions,� that have invaded our nation�s judicial system along with the schools, have determined that while concepts about sin and guilt necessarily lead to neurosis, agitation to violence and delivery of non-stop put-downs are somehow healthy expressions of merriment. And so, the school was instructed -- not asked -- to stop taking the language of thugs so seriously and readmit the miscreant.
On the same day, joyful news on the education front emerged from Illinois. Now understand, first of all, that schools need to raise state and property taxes nearly every year to ensure that �learning� facilities are both attractive and learning-friendly. Well, last February, an 18-year-old Chicago boy (legal adult?) emptied the contents of a can of gasoline on papers in his locker and set them on fire -- with the stated objective of being expelled! The school was evacuated and classes were canceled for the day. Facing felony charges for carrying (and detonating) explosives, Gianluca DeMarco cut a deal to plead guilty, which resulted in parole and his being allowed to continue his �education� in college, where no doubt the predominantly left-leaning professors will ply him with additional incentives to mayhem.
Almost daily -- and not just in inner-city neighborhoods -- we read about, or watch newscasts, concerning ongoing horror stories involving our public schools. This, of course, doesn�t mean that nothing bad ever happens at private and parochial schools, but with one overriding difference: the real threat of expulsion and punishment. The Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), in particular, has morphed into a revolving door for young criminals and scoundrels who have no interest in learning. IDEA has vastly expanded the concept of �disability� in tax-supported settings.
This means that no matter how responsible you are in disciplining and monitoring your own child, you have no control whatsoever over the behavior of the pupil sitting next to him, much less over the hypocritical and counterproductive policies promulgated by the school district and its cohorts in the state and federal bureaucracies. Government educators and bureaucrats really don�t care what you think. At school�s opening, they may pretend to care, but even the pretense typically is dropped by Christmastime -- excuse me, �Winter Vacation.�
In the 1960s, parents were irate over the increasing laxity of discipline and the disappearance of substantive learning. Even 20 years ago, one could get several hundred or even a thousand Baby-Boomer parents to a district-wide meeting over trendy notions like outcome-based education; global studies; graphic sex education; pass-fail grading schemes; abolished dress codes; �transformational grammar�; the dissolution of proven teaching techniques (like phonics, memorization, drills, and workbooks); the marginalization of geography and penmanship; excessive emphasis on sports; and immoral or delinquent acts by students or teachers. Today, the buzz-terms have changed, and Boomers are the grandparents, not the parents. One can barely get a handful of citizens to turn out, even for gross offenses (most of them predictable by-products of one or more of the aforementioned fads). Nowadays, parents don�t bother themselves unless something really grabs their attention -- i.e., a massacre on the order of Littleton, Colorado.
In the years between 1965 and 1988, scholars foresaw that outcome-based education, for example, would end �academics� as we knew it and bring in the kind of touchy-feely fare that currently passes for learning -- mainly psychological calisthenics in the form of tell-all surveys, junk science, revised history, social adjustment activities, and exercises in self-esteem. Scores of experts warned that graphic sex education for high-school students would inevitably filter down to the kindergarten level, with rape and sexually provocative conduct played out daily in elementary school classrooms; that sexual activity would no longer be merely an option for children, but a right.
Parents who once rolled their eyes at curricular atrocities like �new math� and �look-say� reading programs have, of course, been vindicated. And dissenting administrators who, as recently as the 1970s, questioned the wisdom of allowing kids who cheated on their exams to remain in school, much less remain at the helm of coveted school committees and events, have long since been replaced by more �open-minded� officials.
Today, neither teachers nor their administrators need any longer experience nightmares over the prospect of merit incentives. They are more concerned with getting hazard-duty compensation than merit pay. They worry about being kicked or even killed by their students; they obsess over parents converging on their classrooms and demanding that little Suzy�s grade be raised. They agonize over the ability to keep some semblance of order among their students -- completely oblivious to the reasons why their forebears didn�t seem to have such troubles.
And then, of course, there are those teachers who have to contend with the likes of parents John and Denise Latour, who, by their very lawsuit at the behest of the ACLU against Riverside Beaver School District, effectively condone vile and repugnant behavior, further stifling the educational process and compromising the school environment (such as it is).
It is a sad commentary on our society that the majority of mothers and fathers have grown so accustomed to their prerogatives being usurped and the education of their children being forfeited that they don�t even trouble themselves to fight anymore.
Perhaps some watched their own parents� hard-fought battles in the 1970s and 80s, and noticed just how little their efforts succeeded in the end. Those are the parents, I suspect, who escape -- if they can -- to private schools, parochial schools, home schools. But more and more, it appears that modern parents simply no longer recognize the values their parents and grandparents fought for as being the �big deals� they once were. The so-called conservative movement, meaning the ideals with which that term is today associated -- honor, propriety, merit, tact, principle, integrity, modesty, graciousness, sincerity, individualism, resiliency, sacrifice, humility, virtue, morality, justice, decency -- all of those things, at least for the time being, are dead or marginalized, no matter who or what political party is holding the reins of power.
the new school year looms, if you still are wrestling with the question
of whether to take advantage of �free� government-supported schooling,
you might want to consider just who the courts may have recycled back
into your child�s class.
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
In the years between 1965 and 1988, scholars foresaw that outcome-based education, for example, would end �academics� as we knew it and bring in the kind of touchy-feely fare that currently passes for learning...