Public School Hell

I recently came across a newspaper article discussing the preparations for the fall term being made by Savannah high school teachers. This sentence jumped out at me; "On the first day of new teacher orientation, new teachers address the problem of how to handle violent and disruptive students and were taught self-defense by Savannah police."

During my high school days it would have been unthinkable that teachers needed to learn how to defend themselves against attacks by students. And I would have been incredulous if anyone had predicted that the day would come when schools would hire security guards to make hallways safe.

But this is commonplace at schools today and it shouldn't come as a surprise that two-thirds of new teachers entering the profession drop out in five years or less. The primary reason given is unmanageable discipline problems with students.

Who is responsible for these unruly students? Did parents opt out? Did schools lower disciplinary standards? While both of these probably contribute to the problem, I put most of the blame on the government and organized do-gooders who influence government policies. By intruding into every facet of our lives, imposing untested theories on us and usurping the authority of parents as well as schools, Washington has managed to undermine personal responsibility.

As a result students must pass through metal detectors as they enter buildings. This is necessary for safety reasons but from a technical standpoint, I'm puzzled. I would think that alarms would be set off by students' nose rings and other metal adornments pierced into chins, sides of faces and other unmentionable parts of their bodies. Possibly the detectors are so finely calibrated that they ignore these small metallic objects.

Adolescent girls come to school in form-fitting clothes that often exposes their navels. Many have acquired tattoos, the latest female fashion statement. In fact, my wife maintains that this generation of women value a tattoo more than an I.Q. On the other hand, thanks to the ACLU, boys are allowed to come to school with the tops of their underwear showing. I don't know if this is a turn-on for girls but it certainly represents the sort of legalistic triumph the ACLU is so proud of.

The saddest trend at today's schools is one that I want to expound on. I'm talking about providing day care centers for babies of unwed female students. In my school days, I could never have conceived of this, not even in my wildest imagination. And it's still hard to believe. Either I'm an anachronistic throwback to a less sophisticated time or our nation is in serious trouble.

Many schools and local health departments distribute free condoms to teens so these pregnancies could easily be avoided. Are these young girls completely unthinking and irresponsible? Maybe not. Consider this. The girls with illegitimate babies receive assistance checks from the government. The more illegitimate babies they have, the more money they receive. Perhaps, in spite of low SAT scores, these girls are developing early entrepreneurial skills.

Is it naïve to think that these young women change their behavior when they leave school for the real world? They don't and this Breeding for Dollars phenomenon continues. And it seriously affects the wallets and pocketbooks of taxpayers.

Young women examine the facts and make an economic decision to have a baby out of wedlock. This is a typical case: If a single woman has an illegitimate baby (we can't use the correct term "bastard" any more) she can get a monthly assistance check from the government. In addition she also gets a payroll check from her employer.

Her mother or another relative raises her child but she can visit as often she wishes. From her monthly subsidy check, part is given to her relative to care for the child and the remaining amount is hers to spend as she sees fit. She cares for her child and spends a lot of time with it but she can't get married and be a responsible parent because her monthly income would be reduced.

In this case, and I suspect there are many more like it, government exacerbated the problem it was trying to remedy. This is because Washington bureaucrats are so out of touch with the real world that they don't understand how life works. You don't make an irresponsible person responsible by simply giving them money.

And you don't turn adolescents into reliable adults by catering to their every whim. Someday the running of the country will be turned over to this younger generation. In the meantime the best that we can do is pray for a miracle.

September 8, 2001