Zero Tolerance, Precious Snowflakes, and the End of Western Civilization.

14 Nov

If you even casually read the news, before too long you will run into a story about some ordinary Public School student being suspended for some totally harmless behavior, under one insane “Zero Tolerance” policy or another. A little more in-depth study will quickly uncover tales of bumptious parents raising holy hell because their child has been held to some kind of objective standard, instead of being given the deference  to which they are sure said little snowflake is entitled.

And this, in a nutshell, sums up what is wrong with the Public School System, and why it isn’t going to get fixed.

There was never a time when Public Schools didn’t include a degree of indoctrination. Never. But there was a time when there was an unspoken agreement between the Parents and the Teachers; the Teachers would indoctrinate the little house apes, and in exchange would also teach them to read, write, and do basic math.

At some point this broke down. Maybe it was when Education Policy became a Federal matter, and the Parents no longer felt they were in substantial control of the curriculum. It also might have to do with the failure of ‘modern teaching theory’ to pound the basics into pointed little skills. It doesn’t matter. The agreement is broken. Parents no longer feel powerful social forces pushing them to allow teachers to discipline their kids, so they are ready to raise Holy Hell if a teacher does something they wouldn’t (or wouldn’t have the guts to). In reaction, schools try to develop systems of regulation that allow them to maintain some kind of order, without opening them up to lawsuits. So they make “No Tolerance” policies that they can point to when they are in trouble.

And, predictably enough, in the midst of all this idiocy, the good, kind people who are attracted to teaching children for good reasons, are repelled from it by runaway stupidity. And that leaves the kinds of people who are attracted to teaching for the wrong reasons; the ones who like to exercise petty power over children. Who are even more inclined to make up “Zero Tolerance” policies. And who Parents are less likely to tract. And so on, and on.

It doesn’t seem to me that there is a way out of this downward spiral. Parents don’t trust the schools to discipline their kids because the schools keep proving that they can’t be trusted. At the same time, until Parents are willing to trust the schools again, the schools are going to be so anarchic that desperate Administrators are simply going to overreact at every opportunity.

School vouchers might break the cycle, if the schools that TAKE the vouchers make their policies clear and have the authority to expel students. Otherwise, that’s it. We’re doomed. In a generation or so, so little will actually be learned in Public Schools that the vast majority of high school graduates with be semi-literate simians.

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