Dana 2012-06-24 06:11:11
School Children as Political Cannon Fodder for “Social Causes”
by Thomas Sowell (March 10, 2001)
Summary: Why is our children’s education was being sacrificed to some
teachers’ and administrators’ pet political project?
[www.CapitalismMagazine.com] Test scores are not the only things that tell
us how bad our public schools have become. In San Francisco, the school
board voted unanimously to have the city’s students take Friday, March 9th,
off to go to Berkeley, in order to stage a protest demonstration, demanding
the reinstatement of affirmative action in the university’s admissions
Only after the Berkeley police contacted San Francisco education officials
was the rally called off. The police were concerned about such logistical
things as where all the buses carrying students from San Francisco were
going to be parked and where all these students were going to eat. A school
board member then admitted, “there would be no easy way to get that many
kids over and back.”
The more basic question is why these children’s education was being
sacrificed to some teachers’ and administrators’ political project. Nor is
this the first time that school children have been used as political cannon
fodder or as guinea pigs for social experiments. Nor is California the only
place where this happens.
Nothing is easier than to call any project or activity engaged in by a
school “educational.” So long as parents and voters buy it, the schools will
keep selling it. But one of the big reasons students in other countries
consistently outperform American students on international tests is that
many other countries’ students are actually being taught academic subjects
while ours are spending their time on “activities” and “projects” that our
education officials call “exciting.”
An even more grim example of what is wrong with our schools are the fatal
shooting sprees that have broken out at various schools across the country,
most recently in Santana High School near San Diego. Gun control advocates
have seized upon this incident to call for more gun control laws. Facts
don’t seem to bother gun control advocates, but let’s look at some facts
Many of the guns used in various deadly shooting sprees — in schools, at
workplaces and elsewhere — were perfectly legal under existing gun control
laws and would remain perfectly legal under new gun control laws that are
being proposed. Moreover, even if guns were outlawed completely, there would
still be a couple of hundred million guns already in existence in American
society, and they are not going to disappear into thin air.
Guns don’t wear out very fast and may never wear out if properly cared for.
So the current 200 million or so guns in existence today may still be around
two centuries from now, even if laws ban any new guns from being produced or
But none of these facts is likely to affect gun control crusaders. They must
have their symbolic victories, whether with trigger locks and other
cumbersome devices that make it harder to use a gun in self-defense or with
other petty and costly nuisances that law-abiding citizens will be put
through. Meanwhile, violent criminals will be wholly unaffected, since they
are in the business of violating laws anyway. The only effect on criminals
will be to make their victims less able to defend themselves, thereby making
mugging, burglary and armed robbery safer occupations.
There is another aspect of this that needs to be considered because it also
has a bearing on the gun controllers’ arguments and assumptions. At Santana
High School, as at Columbine and other high schools where fatal shootings
have occurred, people have been particularly shocked because these were
affluent, predominantly white schools. Given the much higher rates of
violence in low-income and ghetto schools, why have these shooting sprees
seldom, if ever, occurred there?
For better or worse, there are likely to be more armed people in or near
schools in low-income and minority neighborhoods. Some have armed guards in
the schools themselves. Some have armed gangs in or near the schools.
In other words, when you open fire in a school in a high-crime neighborhood,
you are likely to face more bullets coming back your way. It is in nice,
wholly disarmed, affluent white schools that a gun makes you instant king of
the hill — at least until armed police arrive on the scene. The needless
and tragic deaths at Columbine, Santana and other schools where shooting
sprees have snuffed out young lives are part of the high cost already being
paid for the fetish of disarming law-abiding people.
We don’t need to make this tragedy even worse by disarming more people all
across the country.
“The Declaration of Independence… [is the] declaratory charter of our
rights, and the rights of man.”
— Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), 3rd President of the United States