Friday, October 23, 2015

Police State Public Education in America

Police State Public Education in America

by Stephen Lendman

Democracy requires an educated citizenry. America's founders believed it was insurance against loss of liberty.

Jefferson said “(e)very government degenerates when trusted to the rulers of the people alone. The people themselves, therefore, are its only safe depositories. And to render them safe, their minds must be improved…”

Public education is vital because it serves the public interest - giving meaning to “we the people.” Father of American education Horace Mann called “(t)he common school...the greatest discovery ever made by man.” He meant public, not privatized, prioritizing profits over teaching. He believed all students should be educated equally and responsibly.

In America today, they’re intimidated, persecuted and controlled, not taught the way young people were when I grew up in inner city Boston from kindergarten in 1939 to my 1952 high school graduation. 

Then college and graduate school when both were extremely affordable, extraordinarily cheap by today’s standards. America’s student loan racket didn’t exist - debt-entrapping millions of students repressively, some facing a lifetime of debt bondage.

Standards in those days stressed teaching. Children learned basics to advance to higher education - important preparatory steps for life. Kids today across America have none of the advantages I had. Things today are deplorable by any standard.

Bush's No Child Left Behind (NCLB) and Obama's Race to the Top (RTTT) are Exhibits A and B. The former leaves behind most kids. The latter is a race to the bottom. Both reflect schemes to destroy a nearly four century tradition.

Public schools in America don’t teach. They’re institutions of intimidation and totalitarian control. They produce uneducated youths unprepared for the adult world they’re about to enter - most facing a working lifetime of rotten jobs with poverty wages along with few or no benefits.

No wonder many end up in prison, mostly people of color, ruthlessly abused throughout America’s sordid history. 

John Taylor Gatto is an author and former New York City and State Teacher of the Year. “We live in a time of great school crisis,” he stresses.

US children “rank at the bottom of nineteen industrial nations in reading, writing and arithmetic.” Schools “don’t teach anything except how to obey orders.” Institutionalized education in America “is psychopathic - (with) no conscience.”

US society is “disintegrating.” It’s decadent. Kids during school hours “are under constant surveillance, (with) no private time or space…disciplined if they try to assert individuality.”

Wealthy parents send their children to private schools where they’re educated the way all kids in America were decades earlier. No longer.

Hofstra University’s Alan Singer says many inner city US schools function like prisons. He’s a former guest instructor at Rikers Island, calling it “the last stop on the New York City school-to-prison pipeline.”

Schools “reflect and reinforce society,” he explains. They don’t “transform it.” Industrial America no longer exists. Schools evolved accordingly, notably in inner city minority neighbors.

They’re “organized on the prison model where (children and youths) are treated (like) criminals,” Singer explained.

“Students enter buildings through metal detectors. If the device goes off they are bodily searched. Armed police stand guard.” They conduct random locker searches, a Fourth Amendment violation. Use of drug-sniffing dogs is commonplace. 

“Uniformed security crews that report to the police sweep the halls. Students are forced to sit in overcrowded uncomfortable classrooms doing rote assignments geared to high-stakes Common Core assessments,” said Singer. 

“Stressed out teachers, fearful that they will be judged by poor student performance on these tests, use boredom and humiliation to maintain control of the classroom.”

“When young people react to these conditions they are disciplined. The ultimate goal of school policy is to sort them out with a few destined for success, some to menial jobs, and others for imprisonment.”

Public education in America reflects its racist, punitive, disturbingly ugly dark side - institutions of police state control, not learning, schools run like prisons.

Brown v. Board of Education is dead. Segregation afflicts America’s people of color, harmed by the school-to-prison pipeline - US policy at the federal, state and local levels, kids treated like criminals.

They’re pushed out school doors into prisons - ultimate institutions of intimidation, tyrannical control and abuse, Blacks and Latinos mostly affected, a shocking indictment of a ruthless, dystopian society, unfit and unsafe to live in.

Rutherford Institute is a civil liberties organization. Its founder and president John W. Whitehead calls US public school students “the new inmates in the American police state.”

“(Y)ou’re either a prisoner…or a prison bureaucrat (police officer, judge, jailer, spy, profiteer, etc.),” he explains.

Anyone today can run afoul of the system unwittingly and end up in prison, he says. For kids, it’s much worse, he stresses.

“Microcosms of the police state, America’s public schools contain almost every aspect of the militarized, intolerant, senseless, overcriminalized, legalistic, surveillance-riddled, totalitarian landscape that plagues those of us on the ‘outside.’ “

America is a rigorously controlled police state, ruthlessly threatening and harming most of its people, reflecting tyranny, not democracy.

From the time US kids enter public schools through graduation or sooner if they drop out, they’re “exposed to a steady diet of draconian zero tolerance policies that criminalize childish behavior, overreaching anti-bullying statutes that criminalize speech, school resource officers (police) tasked with disciplining and/or arresting so-called ‘disorderly’ students, standardized testing that emphasizes rote answers over critical thinking (and real learning), politically correct mindsets that teach young people to censor themselves and those around them, and extensive biometric and surveillance systems that, coupled with the rest, acclimate young people to a world in which they have no freedom of thought, speech or movement,” Whitehead explained.

Nearly one in three youths are arrested after leaving school. Millions of kids are suspended or expelled for so-called “disruptive behavior” or “insubordination” - minor things too insignificant to matter.

“Black students are three times more likely than white students to” be targeted, says Whitehead. “Acts of kindness, concern or basic manners can (bring) suspensions.”

A child was punished for sharing his lunch with a hungry friend, another suspended for saying “bless you” after a classmate sneezed.

Shocking things happen unheard of when I was growing up. “(H)and-drawn pictures of guns, pencils twirled in a ‘threatening’ manner, imaginary bows and arrows, even fingers positioned like guns) can also land a student in detention,” said Whitehead.

“(V)isits to the principal’s office are transformed into punishments such as misdemeanor tickets, juvenile court, handcuffs, tasers and even prison terms.”

“(A)rmed police officers…patrol school hallways…de facto wardens…doling out their brand of justice…(using) tasers, pepper spray, batons and brute force. The horror stories are legion.”

Irving, Texas 14-year-old Muslim student Ahmed Mohamed was suspended, handcuffed, arrested and detained by police for bringing a homemade alarm clock to class. Racist school officials accused him of making a fake bomb.

US public schools today are dangerous places for children and youths. They’re more prison-like than educational institutions. They reflect ruthless state-sponsored policies - serving the privileged few at the expense of everyone else.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 

His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."

Visit his blog site at 

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