Monday, December 17, 2007
Connecticut's School Massacre
"Unthinking respect for authority is the greatest enemy of truth." -- Albert Einstein
Is it just a matter of time before CT has a school massacre? The event seems inevitable because the conditions exist. CT has the worst education standards of all the states according to the Fordham Institute (www.edexcellence.org); the highest individual drug use of all states according to the Hartford Courant (4/25/07); arguably the worst city schools in the country according to testing by the State Dept of Ed.; a huge learning gap between poor and rich; etc. Thus, the stage is set for a rage-driven calamity.
Some people blame "evil." Others blame the social maladjustment of the shooters, or the availability of guns in our society, or movie violence, etc. Nobody blames the schools, yet schools are where the killings have been happening. Is that mere coincidence? I think not.
Children have always disliked school, but today's public school environment is far more oppressive than in the past. Far from the "melting pot" of a diverse society, the schools are dangerous and cliquish places, where the culture is coercive, dishonest and corrupt, in addition to failing as an educational enterprise. Petty rules are enforced by petty officials; administrators are preoccupied with "security" as police roam the halls.
Public schools are unionized workplaces arranged for the benefit and convenience of the employees, not for the children or community. Prison-like buildings; bleak corridors, and ugly classrooms tell us our children are merely being warehoused. Add frequent buzzers and loudspeakers' barking and we get the picture of indoctrination and psychological conditioning to a life of compliance and servitude. Add drugging, tedious bus rides and impersonal bureaucracy and you have a package that is wholly anti-child and even anti-education, all at a high cost to every taxpayer.
According to his book, School Corruption, Armand Fusco, a former superintendent, public school is "a culture of dishonesty and corruption." Considering such things as "honor roll" bloat, grade inflation, social promotion, we see a pervasive tendency to defraud the public. Teacher "certification" and school "accreditation" can easily be viewed as scams. In their public statements, administrators spin their jobs as more important and meaningful than they are, always promoting "future successes" while ignoring current failures.
Students are distrusted, their parents are ridiculed; the public is lied to; teachers are mis-educated and ill-trained; the atmosphere is stressful and competitive where only a few can succeed. Children are convinced at an early age that their interests are not important and that they are not capable of deciding their own course of study or evaluating their own work. According to John Taylor Gatto, teacher of the year in NY State and NYC, the purpose of the public schools is dumbing down - turning intelligent children into obedient predictable adults.
In these conditions, most children get the message that they will never realize their full potential. Add the fact that the government seeks to replace the family by becoming the students' surrogate parent, and what's left is an absence of real love and caring for the children and their lives. The government uses its schools for its own purposes -- to turn out a workforce of what it calls "economic units" or "human resources" instead of well-adjusted, secure individuals. And that is the opposite of our own desires for them.
What can parents do? Parents need first to recognize their position of helplessness against the schools. They have no chance of "reforming" the system. Therefore, they must take more responsibility for their children's lives than at present. That includes their education, especially since CT State law says that parents are responsible for that, whether or not they send them to school.
What can be done to prevent the CT school disaster? Should we profile all the students, as some suggest, looking for possible future shooters. Even if we did, it turns out that the profile would fit ninety percent of all students. Yes, it turns out that, if subjected to what schools do to kids, most ordinary people would react with violence. Or should the schools themselves -- with their controlling arrogance, their unreported bullying, their deceptions and secrecy, etc. -- be profiled in search of the most likely place to have mayhem break out?
Ned Vare is an architectural designer, former private school teacher and elected official. He is co-author (with his wife, Luz Shosie) of the book, Smarting Us Up. For your copy, see sidebar