American Decline

Ban Schools, Not Guns

From Takimag.



by Kathy Shaidle

I blame the Burning Schoolhouse.

Canadians are perversely proud that our most popular backyard firework is unavailable in the United States. More like a science-fair volcano than a proper pyrotechnic, the homely Burning Schoolhouse merely spews a two-foot flame that lasts half a minute if you’re lucky.

But every May Two-Four for generations, Canadian kids have cherished those measly 30 sacred seconds, indulging in socially sanctioned fantasies of third-degree carnage.

You won’t hear this from Michael Moore, but modern school shootings are a Canadian invention, too, and I don’t just mean 1989’s “Montreal Massacre.” Despite the absence of a so-called “gun culture,” we spawned the first Adam Lanzas back in the mid-1970s, getting a twenty-plus-year head start on Columbine.

Don’t be fooled by those low body counts circa 1975. Look at the number of wounded, too. In both instances—unlike most American school shootings in the 1970s—those Canucks were would-be spree killers, targeting more than just a hated teacher or classmate.

I’m only kidding about blaming a tacky once-a-year firecracker display, but in the wake of Sandy Hook, would-be reformers are deadly serious. From the gun grabbers to those who want to lock up loonies, they’re all foolishly looking for a solution through the wrong end of the telescope.

It’s obvious that the way to end school shootings is to forget about the “shootings” part and focus on the first word instead.

We need to abolish schools.

A survey of popular culture indicates that attitudes about compulsory public education have drastically devolved. Children have always hated school, but the Our Gang kids only “played hooky” from class, they didn’t shoot it up. The “juvies” in Blackboard Jungle (1955) just smash up some classical-music records and manhandle a teacher (who probably liked it).

The sea change dates back to—you’ll never guess—1968, when Lindsay Anderson’s film …if climaxed with an armed student rebellion at an English public school.

A multitude of Tom Brown-turns-John Brown fiction pieces followed. “School’s been blown to pieces,” Alice Cooper growled triumphantly in 1972. Then came Massacre at Central High (1976), Rock ‘n’ Roll High School (1979), and the ingenious satire Heathers (1988). School in countless American films is depicted as a conformist concentration camp with a marching band.

Today, two multi-million-dollar entertainment franchises, Twilight and The Hunger Games, revolve around teens fighting each other to the death—but God forbid gun-phobic, video-game-banning suburban moms question their own reading habits, right?

No, I’m not blaming pop culture, either. Movies and music reflect the zeitgeist as much as they influence it; attempting to guess exactly when they do which is as easy as guessing which wire to snip when defusing a bomb.

Some trace our troubles to the outlawing of school prayer. I’ll grant those well-meaning folks points for getting their dates right, since those Supreme Court decisions came down in 1963 and 1964.

But prayer wasn’t the only thing swept aside, as Latin-literate older readers don’t need me to tell them.

Here’s a former substitute teacher:

I then made it my business, when finding an older teacher, to ask if education had been “dumbed down.”…Algebra teachers informed me that every year they were forced to eliminate problem sets that previous years had mastered. English teachers who once taught Shakespeare and Dante were now reduced to leading seniors through Orwell’s Animal Farm….

We could do much worse than Animal Farm. The trouble is, most teachers imply that the pigs on two legs are right-wingers. Not coincidentally, former Weather Underground terrorist Bill Ayers (see “1968,” above) is now revered as a pedagogical guru even by the president.

Camille Paglia is aghast that her college freshmen don’t know who Adam and Eve and Moses are, and haven’t even the sense to pretend to be embarrassed about it.

So the conclusion is clear:

The easier we made school for kids, turning classrooms into laboratories of compulsory leftist social engineering, the more kids hated it—some to the point of homicide.

Abolishing the public-education system has no downside. A few million obese, incompetent, corrupt, vicious teachers and parasitical bureaucrats will finally be fired.

The conservative establishment’s dream of abolishing the Department of Education will come true.

Homeschooling is superior anyhow. Mothers will be able to do it because the taxes skimmed off the top of their salaries will no longer be needed to prop up said department.

Real and imaginary social problems such as chickenhawk teachers, anti-gay “bullying,” pro-gay sex education, the drugging of “hyperactive” boys, busing, high-school football concussions, and girls dressing like prostitutes for the prom will vanish.

Decades hence, our offspring will listen in disbelief when we tell them we used to pay billions of dollars to warehouse children in “gun-free zones” overseen by morons; that 21st-century kids were groomed for 19th-century jobs and came out functionally illiterate but experts nonetheless on the subjects of Kwanzaa, “safe” sex, and something called global warming.

Then every Gen-X grandparent will pat the shocked little rug rat on the head and say reassuringly, “Our love is God; let’s go get a slushie.”

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