Gary North (www.garynorth.com), June 17, 2015
Back in 1980, at the National Affairs Briefing Conference, where Ronald Reagan came to speak, I gave a speech on education. Here is what I said: “If every parent pulled his kid out of the public school on Monday, there would be no more public schools by Wednesday.”
Parents would not do this in 1980. They will not do it today. If you want to blame the public schools, blame the parents. The parents could close the schools in a week. The schools would never reopen. All the parents have to do is pull their kids out. There would not be enough truant officers and judges to enforce the compulsory attendance laws. The laws would be changed. Every politician who didn’t vote to authorize homeschooling on this basis would find himself out of office at the next election. They would learn really fast.
Fact: most parents like the public school system. They scream about it. They complain about it. They can tell you that it ought to be fixed. But they like it, and they liked it 70 years ago. The system never changes, because parents are content with the system. Bureaucratic systems don’t change except on two bases: (1) somebody cuts off next year’s money; (2) there is going to be a lawsuit.
People need to take responsibility early in their lives. Most people will do almost anything, and suffer almost any indignation, in order to avoid taking responsibility for their lives.
A recent post on bullying came up. I have dealt with this before.
Here’s the problem with bullying in school. First, the administrators are spineless. They are caught on the horns of multiple dilemmas, and they will do almost anything to avoid making a decision. They don’t want lawsuits from parents who are outraged there hoodlum kids were expelled. They also don’t want lawsuits from parents whose children are the victims of these hoodlums. They want their budgets increased next year. They want to keep all bad news out of the newspapers. They want to have all their sports teams win. They want things happy, happy, happy. But the world of Phil Robertson is not available to school administrators.
Most of the efforts of school administrator are put into keeping the lid on, but above all, the public relations lid.
They want to avoid making decisions. They have been trained not to make decisions. They have been bureaucrats all of their lives. They went from public school bureaucracy as students through public school bureaucracy as teachers, now they are administrators.
Bureaucrats want to avoid responsibility. The goal of the bureaucrat, above all, is to get next year’s budget increased, but the second goal is to avoid a lawsuit. The rest of it doesn’t matter.
Second, any parent who puts up with this nonsense is playing the same game. The parent doesn’t want to take responsibility. So, the parent goes to the school administrator, and tells his story of woe. The administrator has an obvious reaction: to promise to clear it up. Then he has the second reaction, which is simple enough to explain: to sweep it under the rug. Things get cleared up by being swept under the rug. If the school administrator can delay a decision long enough, the kid will graduate, and the parents will go away. So, delay is the order of the day. Only when parents are adamant will they be listened to. But even then, they probably will not be listened to much. Only if a parent brings in a lawyer will the parent be listened to. School administrators pay attention to lawyers. They pay attention to budget cuts and lawyers. They don’t pay attention to anything else.
Anyone who does not understand this is willfully blind. Any parent who does not understand this is living in a fantasy land, because the parents grew up in this system. It is just the way it was in Back to the Future. Biff runs the show. There’s a working relationship between him and the vice principal, because the vice principal is unwilling to expel Biff and his buddies — bad publicity — so Biff knows just how far to push. The vice principal knows just how far to go through the motions as if he were doing something to stop the problem.
So, we have gutless school administrators and gutless parents. Should we be surprised that children get bullied?
Third, we also have gutless kids. The kids don’t have to put up with any of this. The kid can go home immediately after school, and sit on the front porch. Then some neighbor calls the cops, and the cops come and take the kid away. Now the kid has the cops on his side. The kid is in complete control. The parents had better figure this out. The parents can’t control the kid. So, the parents had jolly well better do what their kid says.
The kid should say this: “I’m not going back to that school. You must put me in a different school, or let me homeschool, but I’m not going back to that school, and you can’t make me go back. The kids at school who are bullying may are the threat; you aren’t.”
The parents can play hardball, but the kid can play much harder hardball. Within 24 hours, Child Protective Services will be in charge, not parents. Then the parents get to pay for a lawyer to get the kid out of the hands of Child Protective Services. Any parent who doesn’t understand this is simply an idiot. The parent doesn’t understand what is happening to the American legal system. The parent is not in control. The kid is in control. Are we clear about this?
Parents may like to think this is not the world today, but it is the world today. So, parents had better take steps to make certain that they provide a safe environment for their children’s education. This probably means homeschooling. It may mean sending your kid to a school they can barely afford, on the assumption that a private school is going to be different from a public school, which may or may not be true. This is tested under fire.
If the school will not respond what the parents want done, the parents don’t have to put up with this. The parents didn’t have to put up with the 40 years ago, either. The parents can simply pull the kid out of the school, and homeschool him. But parents are gutless. They are also bone-lazy. They don’t want to teach. They don’t want to take responsibility. They just want everything to be hunky-dory, and they don’t care what happens to the emotional state of their kids. They send their kids off to what are known sinkholes, and have been known as sinkholes for half a century. They don’t care. The parents don’t want a fuss. They would rather have bullies take it out on their kids than do something positive, which means pulling their kid out of the school, and homeschooling the kid. At some age, you have to take responsibility. I think age 12 is about right, because when puberty hits, responsibility comes with it.
If the kids don’t like middle school, they don’t have to go to middle school. If kids don’t like high school, they don’t have to go to high school. Anyway, they don’t have to go to high school at the behest of their parents. They may have to go to a particular high school because Child Protective Services puts them in a foster home, and the foster parents say that the kid has to go. But even then, the kid does not have to go. The kid can simply say, “I’m not going. You can’t make me go.” Then the kid goes into reform school. That’s the final sanction. But if the kid really wants out, the kid simply can say this: “Let me take the curriculum on the Khan Academy. I’ll do my work. I’ll pass my exams. I’ll get my GED. Just don’t get me back into that hellhole.” Any parent who doesn’t want to listen to this message is going to find himself lawyered up at his expense at $200 an hour. If parents think they cannot afford a private school, they had better be prepared to spend money on a lawyer to get their kid back from Child Protective Services.
It’s basically the parents’ fault. Blame the parents. They are responsible for their children, and they don’t want the responsibility. They have turned the responsibility over to public school administrators, and they do it from the time the child’s under six years old. Blame the parents. Don’t blame the schools. The schools are simply doing what all bureaucracies do. If you don’t like the way our schools do it, find a different school, or else homeschool the kid. But don’t blame anybody else anymore.
This sign should be on every father’s desk: “The buck stops here.”
It’s the parents’ fault, because the parents are responsible for the education and upbringing of their children. Nobody else is. Don’t point the finger at the schools. That’s like blaming the Communist for being a Communist. It’s ridiculous. After almost two centuries of the same old academic stuff, parents ought to figure out how the system works. But they don’t want to, because they don’t want to exercise responsibility. They don’t want to fight public schools in the only way that they can be fought effectively, namely, to pull their kids out of the public schools.