America has once again been shaken by mass murder. This time seventeen people were shot in a Florida public high school by a student dropout. In a rush to be heard, media noise-makers from around the country flooded the news with their imaginative solutions (stricter gun control, parental supervision, secured schools, mental health screening, armed teachers, and the list goes on and on).
Although on the surface these solutions may sound plausible, none seem to hit the mark, given the circumstances.
After 14 years of teaching, and many more years of observing the decline in education, I am convinced that the problem begins in the schools with our educators. It is here in the schools, where the seeds of discontent are often planted and nourished.
You may rightfully ask. How could this be? How could an exemplary group of people like our educators, committed to the thankless task of turning children into thinking and useful adults, ever contribute in any way to unethical behavior?
**My answer is simple. Public schools have only one real purpose: to indoctrinate. For a disturbing close up of this point, you should acquaint yourself with the Hatch Amendment Hearings, which took place in Washington, DC, and other major U.S. cities in 1984. During these hearings, parents provided countless examples of classroom activities that support this point.
If you think time has changed this, you are seriously wrong. To convince yourself, I recommend you interact with today’s students and test their knowledge level. What you will uncover, in many cases, is that many of them are shallow thinkers, incapable of defending their point of view. They may be able to hurl at you heavy words like anti-Americanism, cultural relativism, globalism, wealth redistribution, socialism, racism, white supremacy, and more, but they are rarely able to crack these words open and exam them intelligently.
The reason is simple. Their teachers usually aren’t much smarter than the students, despite their multiple degrees. In many cases, their subject knowledge is eclipsed by too many education courses. Yet, despite this handicap, you would think that these “learned” men and women would be alert enough to spot a student in crisis. Like all of us, young adults send off early warning signs of distress. In the case of the Florida shooter, for example, the killer left a noticeable trail of anti-social behavior; in the process, he even managed to catch the attention of the FBI before the shooting. Yet, nothing corrective was done. Why?
During my teaching years, I found working with disruptive students to be a very frustrating task, which only occasionally resulted in any desired outcome. The reason: Seeking assistance from other teachers in the same predicament as I was seldom useful. Same was true when I examined a student’s permanent records for personal information. In many cases, these records were totally expunged of data that might be helpful at evaluating the student.
If I went the next step and contacted his home, I would usually confirm what I already knew (that the parents were oftentimes totally unable to manage their child).
Turning to specialized school personnel for help was also useless. The counselor would simply give the student an hour or two of his babysitting time before returning him to the classroom, and the principal would set up a conference with me and the student, and then lecture us both on how to get along. In the end, the student would remain unchanged, and often, as a result, would return to class even more rebellious, because we teachers once again failed him. In severe cases, after a few noteworthy tantrums, which would get the attention of the principal, the student would be expelled – and, when of age, if he hadn’t adjusted, tossed from the school for good.
This all confirmed to me an important point. Today’s highly educated professionals, armed with the latest and most fashionable ideas on child management, when faced with a problem, are still unequipped at dealing with reality intelligently. The education theory that many public school educators are taught is best suited for a totalitarian country, not a free society. For a teacher to survive in America’s Gulag prison-camps (the schools), he must learn to play the game and allow students with adjustment issues enough freedom to self-destruct.
Few educators seem to grasp what Aristotle said in the Metaphysics that “All men by nature have a desire to know,” or what Dr. Maria Montessori proved through her studies and books. Like Dr. Montessori, I believe a child misbehaves when an important need isn’t being met. In his often inarticulate and sometimes destructive way, a student lets us know this with his cry for help. A smart educator, a sensitive educator, will pick up on this and will reach out to him. Such a teacher knows that knowledge (including self-knowledge) is healing, and it is necessary for healthy growth, and that any interference to the normal accumulation of it is an evil act conceived by man to destroy man. Yet this evil act continues to be practiced in our schools and no one seems interested in reversing it. (For an overview of this mind-dulling practice, I recommend you read my article, “Education Today: A Prerequisite to Self-Destruction.”)
Why is this occurring? Why aren’t corrective measures being taken to help boys like the Florida shooter before it’s too late?
Because no one has been seriously willing to take on the Department of Education. The monster that Jimmy Carter created during his presidency in 979 has become too politically powerful to disturb. Many journalists know this, which explains why they seldom discuss government school failures. Our university scholars and political leaders also know this, but they are too well financed by the education establishment to expose it.
Severing the Department of Education’s access to America’s resources (its students and taxes) will only occur when those with the most to lose, namely the public, decides to withdraw all support of government schools. When it does, if it does, I hope it is for a better education system, a more humane system. Then, and only then, will these tragedies in the schools show signs of ending.
Joe David is the author of numerous articles and six books, including three novels, The Fire Within (an examination of contemporary issues in education), Teacher of the Year (the witty unmasking of an educator), and The Infidels (a poignant story about the genocide of Christians by Muslim Turks). For more information, visit www.bfat.com