By Doug Newman
March 13, 2006
Posted at Old
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The recent brouhaha over Colorado high school teacher Jay Bennish is just one more in a long litany of reasons that the government needs to get out of the education business altogether.
Bennish teaches geography at Overland High School in Aurora, Colorado, just outside Denver and less than a mile from where this column originates. He has just returned to the classroom after temporary administrative leave. This came after a student went public with a recording of Bennish's anti-Bush rant on the morning after the State of the Union speech.
The predictable controversy ensued. Democrats hooted and hollered about Bennish’s First Amendment rights. Republicans hooted and hollered about liberal indoctrination of public school students.
Henry David Thoreau once remarked that “There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root.” The branches of evil are all the crises and scandals that emanate from government schools. The root is that the government runs the schools.
It is as if something is sacred about “the schools.” We hear no end of “we ought to do this in ‘the schools’” or “it is a travesty that we do that in ‘the schools’.” Again, we always attack the symptom rather than the problem. The problem isn’t the radical talibanic Christian right or the radical secular humanist left or not enough money or the ACLU or any of that. The problem is the government. To paraphrase James Carville, it’s the government, stupid!
In a free society, which America is not, there would be a separation of school and state. No one would be required to attend a school or to subsidize education against their will. If you had had it with the Bennishes of the world, you could pull your child out of their brainwashing centers and you could freely refuse to pay their salaries any longer.
In a free country, you could exercise your Ninth Amendment right to educate your children as you saw fit, without asking for permission. You could home school you kids if you wanted. Catholics could send their kids to the Our Lady of Mercy School; Baptists could send their kids to the Obadiah Baptist School; Mormons could send their kids to the Joseph Smith School; Muslims could send their kids to the Allah Akbar School; believers in Mungabunga could send their kids to Mungabunga school. If you are not spiritual, you could send your kids to the Whitney Houston School – “Where the children are the future“ -- or to the Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young School -- “Where we teach your children well.”
Moreover, political correctness, prayer, declining academic standards, evolution, creation, condoms, sex education, gay curricula, affirmative action, busing, standardized testing, bullying, discipline, dress codes, Christmas celebrations and all the other debates surrounding education today would cease to be political issues.
It ought to surprise no one that government schools are such hotbeds of socialism. Notre Dame, Georgetown and Boston College are run by the Catholic Church and, therefore, advance the cause of Catholicism. Brigham Young University is run by the Mormon Church and, therefore, advances the cause of Mormonism. Therefore, it ought to come as no surprise that state education advances the cause of statism.
“Reform” is not the answer. It matters not how many of the “right people” we put on the school boards and in the classrooms. This majority will only last until “the other side” gets a majority in the legislature or the school board. If the folks on “the other side” are so horrible, why do we open ourselves – and our children – to the possibility that they wield so much power?
We tweak and fiddle endlessly with government schools in the totally false hope that we will arrive at some optimal arrangement. One-size-fits-all education is like one-size-fits-all clothing. It is as if the law mandated that I wear a Speedo and a Dallas Cowboys tee-shirt when my preference runs toward baggier, more modest swim trunks and the garb of my beloved Super Bowl XL champion Pittsburgh Steelers.
It amazes me how so many Christians have swum with the cultural current on this issue. There is no basis for state education in either the Bible or the Constitution. However, state education is one of the ten policy planks of the Communist Manifesto.
Eliminating the federal Department of Education was once prominent on the to-do list of Christians and conservatives. Now, millions blindly follow a president who brags about increasing federal education spending by 49 percent in three years.
I have heard it said that education is so-o-o-o-o important that the government must, for the sake of the prosperity of the nation, have a heavy hand in it. Well, eating is important, too! Let us, therefore, have a state agricultural monopoly just like they did in the Soviet Union. During the 1980s, the average Soviet consumer spent two hours a day in line to buy groceries, while America was the world’s number one food exporter and Americans still had so much access to food that overeating was a major problem. (1)
Beatle drummer Ringo Starr once commented that “Everything the government touches turns to crap.” Education is but one on an endless list of examples.
(1) I know, I know. The US does not have a true free makret in agriculture, but we do have a measure of property rights and profit motives which the Soviet Union did not have.
If you would like to link to or post this, please e-mail me and include this link on your page. Thanks! -- dfn
Freely Speaking: Essays by Doug Newman