Mark Shea has a couple of posts up this week that touch on an institution that ranks up there on my "Public Enemies" list, alongside Corporate America, pro-abortion Catholics, and unprincipled Republicans: Public Schools. (Standard disclaimer: we all know there are many fine individual teachers in the public schools; they wind up suffering by associaiton because the entire establishment, from teachers unions to school boards, is riddled with corruption and hypocracy.)
First is this piece about a school district petitioned by Muslims to recognize one of their religious holidays. The district's answer: ban all religious holidays. Of course, they still have a "Winter Holiday" that conveniently runs from December 18 to January 1 - coincidentally, that holiday that dares not speak its name falls smack in the middle of that period. How fortunate! This reminds me of a friend whose wife worked in the public schools; she related how all the teachers in the district were under orders not to wear any red or green clothing during the month of December, lest they be accused of passing subliminal messages to their students.
The other post doesn't actually have anything to do with education, but Mark uses the public school system as a brilliant example of why "zero tolerance" is a bad idea:
"Zero tolerance" is one of those catchphrases we Americans like to coin in order to substitute for thought in approaching the human person. Zero tolerance has been a gold mine of stupid policies in our school system. Zero tolerance for sexual harrassment has resulted in the prosecution of six year olds who jump out of the tub naked and run to the front yard to wave goodbye to the school bus (I am not making this up). Zero tolerance for school violence has resulted in students being expelled for drawing Star Wars blasters doodles in the margins of their notes. Zero tolerance for "hate speech" has resulted in mass campus protests over use of the word "picnic" (which some ignoramus decided was "racist"). Zero tolerance is an incredibly bad way of dealing with the complexities of human life--which is why the Church's moral theology never employs the term.
What do these examples have in common? Only that the people responsible for teaching your children (at taxpayer expense) have yet to figure out how to think themselves. Not only does this explain why the schools are turning out such poorly educated students, it also shows why so many concerned parents turn to homeschooling.
Of course it doesn't stop there. The same diseases of stupidity, intolerance and diversity that infect the public schools transmit themselves all the way to the upper reaches of our institutes of higher learning (i.e., colleges). And one other thought - these schools are the spawning grounds for a lot of our highly paid corporate executives and HR managers. Is it any wonder that we see the same intellectual viruses running rampant in Corporate America?
Like attracts like, in other words. And, this kind of result being the goal of the public education establishment, they must be very pleased with how it's all turned out. They've bred an entire generation for whom "common sense" is a toxic disease. That being the case, you wonder why they're so opposed to merit pay? Ironic, huh?