Large elements of the American public, backed by opportunistic politicians, seem to want to turn American public schools into prison camps.

Some of the current policies in various places:

  • Enforced attendance. This is all well and good. Unfortunately, the schools don't teach anything to anybody who has even slightly above-average IQ. Therefore, it is a waste of the student's time. The schools know this, despite their arrogant whinings about how said students may somehow benefit from sitting in a stultifying environment and wasting time. The real reason the schools care, however, is because they have to record attendance, and then send this to the federal government to get their federal funding. The federal government pays the public school districts according to how many student-days they've recorded. So if a student doesn't show up to class, the school loses out on its money.
  • Policies restricting use of the library to people who have hall passes, even during lunch. The mind boggles.

Some of the policies which have been proposed and which have taken effect in some places:

  • School uniforms which all students are required to wear. This is strikingly similar to what the military does to encourage conformity and discourage individuality. Strangely, the people promoting such policies actually admit that they want to encourage conformity, and use this as a justification in and of itself.
  • Metal detectors which are placed at all entrances and exits to the schools. These are supposedly to check for weapons, but has two major problems. First, any student with half a brain will get the weapon in anyway. Second, in situations like what occurred at Columbine High School, the shooters will just storm the gates, shoot the guy running the metal detector, and bypass the whole thing.
  • Warrantless searches. The public schools have decided that public school students have no Fourth Amendment rights while on school property. This is defensible when dealing with school lockers, perhaps. It is entirely undefensible when warrantless searches of students' automobiles are conducted, and when warrantless searches of students themselves are conducted. This occured at my high school.
  • School-sanctioned vandalism of parked cars. This occurred at my high school. Basically, the school sanctions and pays for a group of students (in my school's case the student council) to go out and vandalize all the cars parked in the lots to "promote a drug-free school." This takes the form of tying annoying yellow ribbons around parts of the car like the antenna, the grill, and door handles. This isn't only annoying, but they tend to tie them very tight, so that they're incredibly annoying to get off. Using a knife tends to cause scratching. In my senior year in high school, I basically forced the vice-principal to go take the damned things off my vehicle, since it was his school, his responsibility, and his idea in the first place, and I mentioned that the city cops were really bored that day and sitting across the street eating donuts. Someone else didn't like it very much either, judging from the fact that the very next day, someone tied about 100 of them (each!) all over the cars belonging to members of the student council, the faculty sponsors of the student council, and the school administration. They fumed. We laughed.
  • There have been proposals to force the smart kids to tutor the idiots and the "special education" students. This is supposed to somehow "enrich" the smart students. The mind boggles.

American public schools: The mind boggles.

And we can now add in the USA, compliments of the Supreme Court, involuntary piss tests. Happy Independence Day. In Board of Education of Pottawatomie County v. Earls, the question was whether or not schools had the authority to do random warrantless, suspicionless searches. As a Civil Liberties Junkie, the phrase "warrantless, suspicionless searches" is one that I'm not entirely comfortable with, to put it mildly. There are instances where such action is considered (not necessarily by me) to be fair, particularly in instances of safety (making sure the airline pilot isn't on bad crack, for example). As could be expected, Ruth Bader Ginsburg opines and is supported in the position that privacy violations are not really that important, and of course Clarence Thomas eagerly and vociferously concurs. After all the testimony and evidence, which largely showed that teen drug use is down and there really isn't a problem, the court, in it's infinite wisdom decided that it was OK for schools to do random, warrantless, suspicionless urine tests of students participating in extra-curricular activities because there might be a problem someday. Based on that logic, we should imprison all corporate executives and accountants because they might someday commit fraud. Then again, maybe this is a step in the right direction...

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