If you believe that Government provides the solutions, then you have to believe in me. As a member of an elected board of education I have been granted the power to mandate solutions to local education and health issues, real or perceived. My qualifications: I was elected to my position by receiving sufficient votes to beat enough of the other candidates. I was not elected by a majority, more like a plurality of the 25% or so residents who chose to vote in that election. Not much of a mandate, but I will take what I can get.
You see, once ensconced on the board, the fact that close to 85% of the residents in my district of voting age either voted against me, or decided my election was not worth their time, carries no weight. The power vested in my position, and now in me, by Ohio state law does not depend on unanimity of support. It does not even depend on majority support. All I needed was to be the marginal vote-getter in an off-year election and the board seat was mine.
Interestingly, the same folks who would never accept my omniscience as a friend, neighbor, or community member, accept my omniscience as an elected official. Of course these folks don’t consciously acknowledge my omniscience, but they do subscribe to the omniscience of the governmental body, the school board in this instance. It is as if the board as a whole attains a higher plane of reason where the whole is multiples of the sum of the parts. In reality, most board members are simply parents trying to make the best decisions for their own children. Certainly they pray that they are right, but they do not subscribe to their omniscience at home, just in the board room.
Based on lots of research and agonizing internal reasoning, or simply the result of my then-current whim and fancy, I get to make decisions that affect the lives and future of other's children. All it takes is for an article in an education periodical or posting on a web site to catch my attention and I could be advocating the next nuttiness in your life. Should someone suggest that children today are overfed and under-exercised, I could be writing the new policies, procedures, and guidelines that mandate each child eat nothing but organic carrots at lunch and perform sets of jumping-jacks at their desks on the hour, every hour.
Sound far-fetched? Well, it's not. Every crazy idea has both advocates and enablers. The advocates push the issue while the enablers nod their collective heads in approval. It really does not matter if the enablers truly agree with the advocates since the enablers will never call the advocates into question. The lovers of Liberty try to make a stand but find their voices lost in the sea of feel-good, collective consensus-building. The crazy idea then ends up before the board and I get to decide. Will whim and fancy, or research and reason, be my guide? You never can really tell.
So I get to decide on the issue while you get to fear the results as the occasional band of roaming morons spray paint SUVs, demand that KFC play Mozart in their slaughterhouses — yes, the chicken we eat must be slaughtered somewhere, and protest McDonalds and Wal-Mart as evil incarnate. These are products of a system that I get to run based on my world-view, or the world-view that piques my interest at any given time.
And I get to change with the winds, not so much based on political pressures, but based on the ideas or ideals that I believe today that all children must believe tomorrow. As my views flutter in the wind, new advocates arrive on the scene and the increase of crazy ideas reaches hurricane speeds while the enablers bob their heads in accelerating unison.
The problem is that local government is simply comprised of friends, neighbors, community members, who you generally appreciate but whose views on very personal matters, such as parenting, are not always the same as yours; just as you do not always agree with the parental decisions of those closest to you — your parents and siblings. In fact, one of the easiest ways to end a family reunion in anger is to begin telling siblings how to raise their children.
In addition, even if I possessed the latest research on education and had advanced reasoning skills, as an elected official, a member of government, the best I can offer is my opinions and beliefs, and I am wrong more often than right. Education research is based on standards that can never match consumer desires, and all opinions and beliefs of that research are nothing more than an individual's bias. Without a free market and real consumers driving the education system, expect waste and inefficiencies; failures. But give us, your school boards, power and we will decide; we will indoctrinate as we see fit, based on our own biases or those biases fed to us by educationist organizations.
But society must allow parents to raise and indoctrinate their children as they see fit, not as the unionized wing of government sees fit. Thomas Jefferson believed that it was far better to suffer the occasional fool than to create a school system that offends fathers, and mothers. I assume that the majority of parents would opt for their own decision-making skills if pushed to decide, but I may be wrong.
Why do so many people have such little faith in their own parenting, and their neighbors’ parenting, that they truly believe that without a unionized labor force inculcating children, nothing of value will ever be learned? Are we really at the point where the future of civilization is in the hands of the public school education monopoly? Maybe preschool should start right after birth so that parents have no adverse influence on their children. And, why do residents feel that I can make the decisions for their children that they would not allow to be made by members of their own family?
The answer is that they have accepted collectivism in the form of government as the solution. Whereas our forebears rebelled against such paternalism — or do-gooder nanny-ism — the current generations have come to accept government in all facets of their lives. We allow the schools to dictate our children's future and simply assume that the schools are always rights. We allow the local health department and schools to decide what goes in our children's lunch boxes and accept that mandate as correct.
How in the world did my election to the board cloak me in the cape of omniscience and allow me to be more enlightened than regular folks? Karl Marx and the other socialists and communists saw little need for the family and other institutions; they believed that they knew better. Gramsci, the Italian socialist, believed that socialism would win in the end if it based its means on a strategy of long-term goals; a Fabian approach. Why fight in the streets when the damage can be done by destroying families and institutions?
In many ways, we have allowed socialist collectivism to be the main outcome of public education. The schools create the environment that nurtures the advocate and encourages the complacency of the enabler. It is really no wonder that the collective body, the school board, is assumed to be omniscient while the individual board member, in his non-board role, is simply considered one in the crowd.
Don’t simply sit back and be a silent enabler, stand for freedom against the aggressions of the advocator. And remember, if this is so, that the schools and all other local governments are always right, that simply means that I am always right. And even I do not agree with that.
June 30, 2006