After reading several personal gulag stories of government schooling here on LRC, I feel compelled to offer my own. I do so because I was supposedly privileged to be educated by the best school system in the State of Tennessee. If this is the best that the government has to offer, we are in trouble.
My adventures began in Kindergarten where I was the chief henchman for the class queen bee. I am absolutely sure that my troubles with the educrats started there. I was asked by the teacher if Miss Queen Bee told me to jump out of the window, would I do it? I said "yes." I must have been put on some double-secret probation and marked for observation by the quack psychoanalysts such rich school systems employ. I know that they had some discussions about me with my parents.
A few years later, I received a tape recorder for Christmas. I took it to school as part of show and tell and "interviewed" several students on their attitudes toward the school system. On one tape we acted our best Saturday Night Live routine (a few years before SNL) and my compatriots turned the microphone on me. One kid asked the question to the group, "What do you think of Mr. Principal"? Another kid in the background said in a muffled voice, "He's a little dirty bald-headed brat." Being a budding anti-government type, I parroted his comment but also loud enough to be recorded on the tape. Later in the day, I was called to see the guidance counselor. She asked me to play my tapes for her. I meticulously avoided the aforementioned section for over an hour. She eventually wearied of that game and confronted me with her real purpose. "Did you record something derogatory about Mr. Principal"? I don't remember what my reply was but I know it wasn't "yes." She huffed out of the room to retrieve Mr. Principal but made the mistake of leaving me alone with my tapes. This was a year or two before Watergate and the incident must have been reported all the way to the President because by the time they got back there was an 18-1/2 minute gap in my tape!
This relegated me to looking at inkblots for three years with the other "special troublemakers." I remember this group of boys because they turned out to be some of the most intelligent and original thinkers in my graduating class. Years later, one of the older student counselors would be in the same college frat with me and would tell me what the school system had told him about me. They didn't consider me intelligent and under-challenged.
After elementary school, they left me alone until I became a senior in high school. My father died in May of my junior year and I had completed all but credit of English to graduate. In retrospect, I asked for it by going back but at the time I was still somewhat brainwashed by the system. 1979 would cure that.
I began the 197879 school year by taking only English, Physics, and a Distributive Education (work-study) class. I was preparing to major in Aerospace Engineering in college and had already completed Precalculus, and Chemistry. I had worked at ceramic shop through the winter as the requirement for the DE class. The owner of that shop used to bring us a six-pack of beer every time we unloaded a truck unbeknownst to his wife. She found the brew one day before we left with it and he denied anything to do with it. We were left holding the bag.
This is where I found out what the school priorities were. I was not suspended for the beer and was allowed to continue in school. After a couple of months of getting out of school at 10:00 a.m., they discovered that they were not collecting all of the state money that they could for my attendance. Amazingly, they still didn't suspend me but wanted me to take courses like the jock science course that they used to keep the football players eligible. All of this was because they collected money from the state for every hour that they could claim that I was in school.
I threatened to secede (drop out) and take the GED. That was the coup d'tat. They would do anything to keep me in school for that last four months just so they could collect their money. The ugly side of it was that they also didn't like having their façade pulled away. I was subjected to a lot of verbal abuse from teachers and the guidance counselor such as, "I can't see you amounting to anything in your life," or "I can see Steve doing anything for a buck."
It continued until graduation day when the school system tried to withhold my diploma on a technicality. I went through the line but actually had to "steal" my own diploma out of the box in order to get it proving once again that the best of government educrats aren't really all that bright.
I briefly gave them one more shot in 1993 when I put my son in Kindergarten in the same school system. He was also labeled a troublemaker in Kindergarten. In a year and a half, he had to wait for the rest of his class to catch up to him in reading and he learned that Martin Luther King was the first President, America was a pristine wilderness filled with noble savages before the Europeans came, and that the major holidays celebrated in December are Hanukah and Kwanzaa. Since January 1995 all of my children have been taught the four R's (Religion, etc.) at home.
Government control of education is the single greatest root danger to our Republic and our remaining liberties that exists today. We cannot afford another generation to be indoctrinated by this system. I don't necessarily endorse everything on the following sites but if you need help and/or encouragement they are good sources:
- Home School Legal Defense Association
- Separation of School and State
- Heart of Wisdom (Excellent collection of links and resources)
- Jon's Homeschool Resource Page
December 10, 2003