Fighting the fanaticism in education
posted at 4:31 pm on June 4, 2013 by Ed Morrissey
For the last several decades, courts have done their best to rid public schools of any reference to religion in order to impose a separation of church and state in education. What’s replaced it, Glenn Reynolds writes in his USA Today column, is another kind of religious fanaticism that borders on the pathological. It’s the Church of Guns are Evil, and the crusade has already taken the form of the ridiculous:
Lego guns, cap guns, bubble guns, nibbled Pop Tarts, and fingers are no threat to safety. And the wild overreaction in these cases says there’s more going on here than simple school discipline. As I said, who treats a 5-year-old this way? It smacks of fanaticism.
In fact, it seems like a kind of quasi-religious fanaticism. I think it’s about the administrative class — which runs the schools with as little input from parents as possible — doing its best to exterminate the very idea of guns. It’s some sort of wacky moral-purity crusade. If a few toddlers have to suffer along the way, that’s tough. You can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs.
But that raises two questions. First, what business do public schools have in trying to extirpate “impure” thoughts? Aren’t we supposed to celebrate diversity? And, second, why should public schools decide that a longtime staple of American childhood, the toy gun, is suddenly evil?
When Horace Mann first campaigned to introduce compulsory public schooling, the model he chose was based on the schools in Prussia. Some of his critics objected: The Prussian system, they said, was based on the presumption that the government was smarter than the people. In America, presumption was precisely the reverse. Mann won out, but the result raises some questions about who’s smarter.
Actually, the events of the past week tend to answer those questions rather than raise them. Be sure to read the whole piece, but keep this in mind — the hostility to religion in education even as a reference was about secularizing values in an institution that forms succeeding generations. What values replaced those that have been driven out? Besides hysteria, I mean …