Tom Finnigan writes:
Public schools operate more like prisons than centers of learning. For six classes a day, five days a week, nine months a year, twelve years of their lives, students must go through a dehumanizing, mind-numbing routine of being bused like cattle to warehouse-like buildings where thousands of kids sit in cell-block-style confinement and get trained to reflexively obey orders. They suffer daily humiliations like walking through metal detectors, having their lockers searched, being attacked by security guards, having their movements dictated by a ringing bell, and asking for permission to use the bathroom. They are subject to a constant battery of standardized tests that strip them of the responsibility and independence to develop their intellectual capacities. Public schools are rife with physical and sexual abuse – not to mention the horror stories involving seclusion rooms and cage fights. Schools pressure parents into putting their kids on addictive behavioral drugs. The meat served in school cafeterias is less safe than the meat that is served at fast-food restaurants. While schools fail to protect students from gangs and shooting rampages, they insist on enforcing ridiculous zero-tolerance policies. Children are “socialized” by living through twelve years of cliques, cruelty, bullying, gossiping, and other forms childish, petty, and immature behavior.
Teachers hate public schools just as much as students. As John Gatto writes, “anyone who has spent time in a teachers’ lounge can vouch for the low energy, the whining, and the dispirited attitudes, to be found there.” Who can blame them? Schools do not reward the good teachers or fire the bad ones. Nearly every detail of their job is dictated by strict guidelines on what to teach and how to teach it. They cannot innovate or challenge their students in any way. Teachers spend most of the year drilling kids in order to help them perform well on standardized tests. Depth of understanding, context, creativity, and intellectual curiosity are forgotten in the effort to raise scores. Teachers are pressured to dumb down standards, help students cheat, and pass failing students to make the school look good. It has become impossible for public schools to attract and retain qualified teachers. In Massachusetts, nearly three-quarters of the people who took the state elementary school teacher’s licensing exam failed the new math section. Nearly half of teachers leave the profession in the first five years.
Studies routinely show that students in public schools lack basic knowledge and skills in history, math, and reading. Underfunding is not the problem. Public schools spend nearly $10,000 annually per student. The average public school teacher makes almost $48,000 per year with good benefits and lots of vacation time. There is no connection between education spending and student achievement.
Public schools don’t fail to educate students. They succeed at dumbing them down. The true purpose of compulsory education is to make people childish, docile, conformist, obedient, and predictable – and to squash qualities like dissent, originality, leadership, and independence. Cloistering children around other children is designed to perpetuate childish behavior. Compulsory education was inspired by the military state of Prussia and was imported to America by an unholy alliance of politicians, industrialists, and intellectuals who wanted to make the population “manageable.” Politicians wanted a harmless electorate that would never challenge the government. Industrialists wanted a servile labor force and a virtual herd of mindless consumers. Intellectuals wanted a populace that could be molded to fit their ideological preferences: pietists wanted to Protestantize Catholic children; utilitarians wanted to assign each person his proper role in a more efficient social machine; and eugenicists wanted to tag the genetically unfit and make them socially undesirable for breeding.
More on the history of public education here.