“Public schooling is the antithesis to democracy. We live in a democratic society, our society is built on freedoms and personal liberties, and yet, it’s like we take our children, and we lock them up in a prison for 13 years of their life and we regimen every aspect of their physical body, their emotions, their social contacts, and most importantly, their minds. What they can and can’t learn and how they will learn it, and then when they’re 18 years old, and we open the key, and we release them into society, suddenly, they’re supposed to know how to think for themselves and be self-starting, innovative, creative, imaginative individuals who are supposed to take part in a democratic process. It’s impossible! It’d be like sending our kids to a fascist nation for 13 years and having them come back and explain what democracy is all about, and yet that’s what we do each and every generation since compulsory schooling was instituted in the 1800s!” – Laurie A. Couture, author of “Instead of Medicating and Punishing” (from the 2009 film “War on Kids”, I advise you watch it)
“I was standing on the lunchroom line. The much bigger kid behind me kept poking me in the ribs . . . It was painful . . . and I told him to stop . . .but he would not. When I finally had enough, I turned, jumped (he was tall), and punched him in the face. He was definitively more shocked than hurt. The lunchroom ladies came out see what was the ruckus. When they heard what happened, they gave me a free lunch and the kid had to stay on line. That was the end of it. If that incident were to happen now, posits the new film documentary The War on Kids, I more likely to have been suspended for a year, been taken to court in shackles, and had a felony conviction on my record” – Robert Barry Francos, cultural critic
Let’s face it, school has never been about learning. It’s about mind-numbing and boring memorizing and standardized testing, but school has also been used as a control and brainwash tool. This has especially been the case since the 1990s.
Since the late 1980s, when the crack epidemic was at its peak, schools have not only begun putting security cameras everywhere but have also enforced the infamous “zero tolerance” policies which are virtually present in every school. Originally, these zero tolerance policies were meant to crack down specifically on drugs, alcohol, and weapons, but nowadays can mean quite literally anything that vaguely fits that category, from prescription medicine to steak knives to even harmless things like toys and nail clippers. Punishments are extremely harsh, the very least worst would possibly be a 3-day suspension, but worse could be a far longer suspension or even expulsion, and in many cases arrest.
Zero tolerance policies are not only unnecessarily and notoriously aggressive, but also largely ineffective. A study by the Indiana University by Russell J Skiba in August 2000 showed that zero tolerance policies were largely ineffective, including finding out that over 97% of zero tolerance punishments involved absolutely no drugs, guns, or alcohol.
Many schools are infamous for punishing students for rather minor offenses (from stealing money from a friend to even as simple as not bringing an ID card). Tactics used to instigate fear (which is what schools are looking for) among the student populace include security cameras (yet also ineffective), drug dog searches (more or less ineffective with a high false positive rate), police officer presence, and many other threats used by schools. Schools are known to punish even the tiniest of offenses with severe punishment.
Some schools, however, go the extra mile. Perhaps the most infamous case of zero tolerance was the case of Stratford High School in Goose Creek, South Carolina, on the fateful day of November 5, 2003. The principle, George McCrackin, believed that there was a high presence of marijuana use and drug dealing in the school, and authorized a SWAT unit to raid the school. Up to almost 120 students were caught up in the hallway during the raid, and many horrified students spectated from the doors watching the SWAT officers verbally abuse and threaten students. Perhaps the worst part of all, no drugs were found among the students. Rightfully so, the American Civil Liberties Union sued the school district, and ended up winning the case, in which divided up $1.2 million among students.
These days civil liberty is hard to find for teenagers. Barely anyone will take teenagers seriously in the first place, and teenagers don’t know their rights because those rights are suppressed. In school, students do not have any Miranda rights. School cameras and campus police are common to find these days, and not only that, but many school districts monitor students’ posts on social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter. Yes, your school may be playing National Security Agency on you and other students.
Youth rights are a taboo subject in schools, and even bringing up such subjects will put you in hot water. Schools believe that teenagers don’t deserve rights. Heck, a lot of teachers don’t even allow you to go to the bathroom during class for Christ’s sake. School is all about submitting to authority, it’s all about complying and obeying, it’s all about participating in what essentially is a fascist state. Why are we putting kids in fascist states even though we are a supposedly democratic nation (though our rights are slowly being taken away)? We often here how wrong it is to torture terrorists, or how wrong the people of countries like Syria or North Korea are being treated, yet we ignore the blatant human rights abuses going on in American public schools. The United States does not believe in youth rights. In fact, the United States is one of the two countries that have not ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the other being Somalia.
Youth rights are one of the things that I’m passionate for, because I don’t believe that one has to be subjected to human rights abuses simply because they are not at the age of being an adult. You hear about children being the causes of crime, kids doing this, kids doing that, it’s frustrating. Since the 1990s the current generation has been described as the “Superpredator” generation by some, that teenagers must be treated like criminals in order to protect them from becoming criminals. In the US, this is just normal, even though in other countries these could very well be human rights abuses. The misconceptions on young people are widespread. Most drug abuse by age actually happens in the 18-20 group, but also in 26-29 group and though nonetheless drug abuse among those in their 30s and 40s are less severe, drug abuse by those in that age group are noticeable. Believe it or not, those among the ages 12-15 actually abuse drugs the least. (Source: http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/nationwide-trends)
Why are we still letting this happen? I believe that as a society, we are still letting this happen because the United States does not value youth rights. We simply view mandatory schooling as a part of growing up and a place of maturing. Teenagers are viewed as immature and incompetent and therefore must be subjected to behavior modification (a controversial term, third party behavior modification programs and schools are very controversial). Heck, many don’t even believe the state of having a quarter life crisis exists! Why do we still believe in traumatizing youth? This may very well be the root of the cause of the lack of action against the government blatantly taking away our human rights to satisfy corporations, because in school, we were taught not to challenge authority. This has to end, this needs to come to a halt. Public “education” is not about educating, but is about behavior modification and policing.