Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Forcing everybody into the same public schools is a good idea because ...?

All Constance McMillen wanted to do was to attend the high school prom with her girlfriend. Unfortunately for her, she lives in Fulton, Mississippi, a notch on the Bible Belt where the idea of two girls holding hands gives lots of people a bad case of the ickies. One thing led to another, the ACLU got involved, and officials at Itawamba County Agricultural High School (where girl-on-girl action is off limits, but the sheep are nervous) stomped off in a huff to cancel the prom rather than let ickiness prevail. Ridiculous as the situation is, it's all too common an outcome when disfavored minorities in public institutions come up against the preferences, prejudices and rank stupidity of the majority who run things.

Minorities and individuals believe nasty and stupid things, too, of course, but they are less likely to dominate political institutions. And make no mistake about it: public schools are political institutions that reflect the wishes of whatever faction controls the levers of power -- often representing majority whims, at least on hot-button issues, in democratic systems. In Tucson, Arizona, this means apartheid-ish racial and ethnic quotas for school discipline, in my stomping grounds it means a prevailing disdain for actual learning, and in Fulton, Mississippi, it means hating the gays.

You can't escape the prejudices of the people who run the show unless you can escape the institutions that they run.

This seems to be the strongest possible argument for decentralizing education and empowering families and students. If Constance McMillen attended a tolerant school chosen and supported by her family, the way they choose their grocery store and their housing, she'd be attending her prom instead of ... err ... being feted in Hollywood. So, OK, things aren't working out badly for her. But most put-upon teens don't end up with celebrity advocates -- even if they win, they battle for years and go through hell in the process.

Why should every kid have to joust with dragons -- and usually lose?

Every community includes minorities whose lifestyles, religious views and ideologies are sufficiently at odds with those of the majority that they can't be accomodated within institutions controlled by the majority without breeding conflict. Having to pay taxes to support those institutions not only adds insult to injury, but deprives people of the resources they might use to pay for alternatives. That leaves these minorities at the mercy of people who have completely incompatible values.

It's odd -- nobody suggests that we nationalize grocery stores and put them under the management of militant vegetarians or Atkins Diet fanatics, yet it's deemed OK to force gay and lesbian students to attend schools run by homophobes.

There's no reason to victimize Constance McMillen. She ought to be educated by people chosen by her family -- people who treat her with respect instead of disdain. Then she could attend her prom with her girlfriend without a moment's worry about other people's prejudices.

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Blogger Samrobb said...

It's odd -- nobody suggests that we nationalize grocery stores and put them under the management of militant vegetarians or Atkins Diet fanatics...

True. However, we have had politicians ban trans fats in California restaurants, propose a ban on salt use in New York restaurants, and in Europe, there have been several proposals to create a special tax directed at fast food restaurants and other "unhealthy" foods. I don't really follow this sort of thing, and I was able to come up with three recent examples off the top of my head. I'm sure that I could have found more if I were willing to dig a bit.

Same destination, just a different route towards a future in which lipidleggin' is a crime.

My point: just because it's not as obvious and in-your-face as public school issues, doesn't mean that this sort of control isn't creeping into other areas of our lives.

March 16, 2010 12:05 PM  
Blogger akaGaGa said...

Forcing everybody into the same public schools is a good idea because ...?

because the mommy types want to make decisions for all of us - especially parents.

Did you know that "educate" includes the following definition?

to persuade or condition to feel, believe, or act in a desired way

In short, education is brainwashing. If parents want to retain the right to "educate" their own children as they see fit, the only real option today is homeschooling.

Hope you decide to keep your little guy home, JD>

March 16, 2010 2:48 PM  

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