Public Schools As Child Abuse

Example #1,456,382:

To be thorough, they should have searched the neighbor’s yard for a dead Triceratops, too. Everyone involved in this tragedy should be flogged naked through the streets, then put in the stocks wearing a dunce cap.

Hey, the kid deserved it! He’s probably also a young-earth creationist, what with his apparent belief in the coexistence of humans and dinosaurs.

37 thoughts on “Public Schools As Child Abuse”

  1. Should you be criticizing state laws rather than public schools? The laws which lead to this sort of thing pertain to private schools as well as public ones. For example:

    DENVER—A 9-year-old Grand Junction student has been suspended for bringing a toy gun to school in his backpack, even though the principal says the boy apparently had forgotten it was there.
    “We are here to educate kids, not punish them, but there is a state law that requires a child who brings even a facsimile of a gun to school to suffer consequences,” said Ann Ashwood-Piper, principal of Holy Family Catholic School, where the student was suspended.


    I realize the “dinosaur murder” case is more absurd. Do you think you can’t find equally absurd behavior in proportionate numbers at private schools? I suspect private schools are just as likely to be absurd, in quantity and degree, and I suppose you believe the opposite. I’m not sure how to find out for sure.

    1. It also isn’t clear how anyone is supposed to act on your criticism if they want to protect their children from “child abuse” but want to send them to school. A parent can evaluate the private and public schools in their area, and in the areas they’d be willing to move to, and try to figure out where “child abuse” (both the very serious type of abuse and the silly stuff you’re posting about) is least likely to occur, but ultimately, I think a parent is likely to have no way to assess those odds. They can look for previous cases of abuse, they can talk to the administration, the teachers, and other parents, but that sort of thing most turn up no warning signs.

      Your posts appear to imply that parents should avoid public school, but they don’t provide any argument that private schools are less likely to be abusive – and remember, a parent has to worry about real abuse (eg sexual abuse, etc) not just “zero tolerance gun policies. I think it is quite unclear what the generic parent is supposed to actually do, in response to your posts.

      1. I don’t think that this is “silly stuff.” Expelling a kid for writing stories or chewing on a pop tart is damaging to them. If you don’t understand why private (and privatized public) schools would be less likely to be abusive, I don’t know how to help you. You don’t seem to understand how markets work.

        1. This may have to be a multiple-part post.

          Consider these numbers:



          Now consider that Catholic schools aren’t influenced by market forces, except in the most obvious ways(eg the cost of tuition can’t be too high). You’re suggesting that schools will be responsive to their customers, but that’s not taking into account why parents send kids to Catholic schools and it isn’t taking into account how the Catholic church works.

          To be continued, I hope.

          1. A lot of Catholics send their kids to public schools or other non-Catholic schools. Why do you think parents, sometimes non-Catholic, will send their kids to Catholic schools?

            “it isn’t taking into account how the Catholic church works.”

            What does the Catholic church have to do with public school policies?

            “To be continued, I hope.”

            I am guessing Catholic bashing. Please let me be wrong.

          2. Catholic schools are influenced by market forces. They are constantly being eliminated, consolidated or added by changing demographics. That is why they are successful. Public schools, on the other hand, do not understand market forces. Many that should be closed are left open for the benefit of the public unions who run the show.

          3. “I am guessing Catholic bashing. Please let me be wrong.”

            totally wrong . internet access problem causing delay.

          4. Home School Statistics Data
            Total number of home schooled students in the U.S. 1,508,000
            Average academic percentile of a home school student 77th
            Average reading percentile of a home school student 79th
            Average math percentile of a home school student 73rd
            Average SAT score of a home school student 1083
            Average ACT score of a home school student 22.6
            Annual rate of increase in families choosing to home school 7 %

            Consider the above manages to not bash Catholics, prevents sexual abuse by teachers, and minimizes school shootings, while allowing for things like time at the shooting range and truly creative writing.

          5. Affordability can be the number one issue when deciding whether to send kids to public or private school, and I wish it were not so – I support vouchers. But if parents can send their kids to private school and decide to do so, I think market forces play a much smaller role in the real world than they would some ideal libertarian fantasy world. Here’s why:

            After affordability, the next biggest issue for parents will often be whether the school offers the best opportunity for academic opportunity. To put it more plainly: sometimes parents send their kids to private schools because the available public schools suck. When that’s the case, the private school knows it. The private school needn’t outcompete the public school with regard to issues like “cruelty toward dinosaurs”, and other such absurdities, because it already outcompetes the public school on academic performance, which what many parents care about the most. If a parent is upset with the private school’s policies, they can leave – there will be other parents eager to take their place.

            Religion is another reason parents send their kids to private school. The numbers I posted above don’t tell the whole story — many non-Catholic private schools aren’t secular, they just cater to a different denomination/religion. Again, this reduces many schools’ need to compete. A religious school doesn’t need to outcompete the public schools with their policies regarding “taking bites out of a poptart until it looks like a gun” because they already outcompete the public schools on religious values, which is what the parents care about more. That’s what I meant by “why parents send their kids to Catholic schools” above — such parents feel lucky to have a Catholic alternative to the secular system, and are eager to accommodate the school’s disciplinary policies, even if they are a little quirky.

            Since Catholic schools are such a large percent of the total number of private schools, Catholicism’s policies should be taken into account. The Catholic church doesn’t exist to create customer satisfaction, on the contrary, it exists to teach how its parishioners can live life right, where what that means is determined in a very top-down manner. Unlike the responsive private businesses Rand is presumably talking about, the Church doesn’t pander, and the customer is most definitely NOT always right.

            (See Wodun, no Catholic bashing from me!)

            Obviously, the problem here is the lack of competition, but we’re talking about the real world. Look at the numbers I posted above — private school is small slice of the school pie, and the available pie is further reduced by religious considerations and economic considerations (some of the secular schools are extremely expensive prep schools, where vouchers wouldn’t help a bit.)

            Again, to be continued

          6. Here’s another issue: it often isn’t trivial to pull your kid out of school. Kids don’t want to be the new kid at school – they often want to stay where they are, with their friends, even if the parents aren’t happy with the school’s policies. This is just one more real-world factor which reduces the schools’ need to compete, particularly with respect to more minor issues like censorship of dinosaur-meets-a-gun fantasies.

          7. You continue to minimize what is happening here. This is not “censorship.” This is punishment, that will go on the kid’s record, and ostracism. The cost of having to go to a new school is small to be able to get out from under the control of power-hungry imbeciles.

          8. You’re right – it wasn’t just censorship — they called the police, and things went downhill from there, perhaps because the kid didn’t cooperate, or perhaps because the police were over-zealous. We don’t know the kid, we weren’t there, but this whole post is premised on the idea that the police shouldn’t have been called, and I’m happy to stipulate that they shouldn’t have been called.

            My overall point was that this could have happened at a private school. I offered reasons why market forces would not have stopped a private school’s administration from calling the police.

            Leland is right that this is an argument for home schooling, but I think we’re interested in whether public school is worse than private school when it comes to incidents like this one.

          9. They can fire idiots, but they don’t. In the dinosaur incident, the people guilty of the (stipulated) idiocy are the ones who are running things, and it’ll be that way a private schools just as often.

            Hang out with any school’s faculty, public or private, and I bet you’ll notice that the teachers tend to be smarter than the administration.

          10. “My overall point was that this could have happened at a private school. I offered reasons why market forces would not have stopped a private school’s administration from calling the police. ”

            Bob – did you ever attend a private school? I attended a Catholic school for 1/2 of my k-12 life. Catholic schools are private schools.

            Private schools have far far more latitude in how they handle situations than public schools do. If a kid gets out of line in a private school, they can expel the kid right then and there. And that’s exactly what they do. They guarantee a good learning environment and that’s why parents send their kids there. Disruption due to a troublemaker kid is simply not tolerated.

            At the same time they get to treat eating a pop tart into the rough shape of a gun as being the total non-issue that it is.

            They can set the rules the way they want them to be (so long as they are lawful) and can set the consequences to be what they want them to be. They hire/fire teachers at will; accept/reject students at will. Promote the mindset they wish to promote.

            They are subject to the market – parents want that kind of atmosphere. And so they pay for it.

          11. “Private schools have far far more latitude in how they handle situations than public schools do.”

            Yes, and power corrupts, and it allows idiocy to flourish. Gregg, most public school administrations wouldn’t have called the police either – that’s why this made the news. We’re talking about idiots here. Catholic schools on the whole are great. Do you think none of them are run by idiots? Do you think Catholic schools somehow select for non-idiots better than public schools do?

      2. “and remember, a parent has to worry about real abuse (eg sexual abuse, etc)”

        Sexual abuse by teachers is a real problem in public schools. It isn’t being addressed. The Catholics did a better job with their abuse problems than public schools are doing. (That is saying something considering how poorly the Catholic Church handled their issues)

    2. I have no idea what the basis of that suspicion would be. Private schools don’t have the captive audience that public schools do. So it would be reasonable to expect them to be punished for stupidity with loss of students.

    3. Bob, as bad as the laws are written, I doubt they are so badly written to include works of obvious fiction.

      Fascimile and fictional are not the same. It is almost certain the school administration grossly exceeded the scope of that law.

      An expensive lawsuit would be the appropriate response to this nonsense. Make it hurt enough and it will stop.

      1. “An expensive lawsuit would be the appropriate response to this nonsense. Make it hurt enough and it will stop.”

        Unfortunately, the ultimate payors of that lawsuit are the local property owners, not the individual school board, administration, and union reps. The school levy makes up the majority of the property tax burden in many areas, and states have rather lax restrictions on the ability of districts to increase this levy. Lose a big, fat lawsuit? Increase the millage rate.

        Getting rid of the Board doesn’t help much, either, even if you can vote in a new majority to change policy; the power at the School Board level corrupts just as easily as it does at other levels.

        1. I would make sure the Board makes the school system eats the cost and that any School Officials involved in the loss of the suit were terminated post haste as proven Liabilities.

      2. “An expensive lawsuit would be the appropriate response to this nonsense.” No. The advantage of local school boards is that they are accessable. Get a group of parents together to go to a board meeting and threaten to horse-whip them if this isn’t dealt with severely. Or horse-whip them first. (*)
        With a _local_ school board it shouldn’t be a big problem. Try doing that to the Department of Education.

        (*) Video any SWAT teams that show up with tanks and automatic weapons.

  2. I think the authorities ought to get the benefit of the doubt on this one. Why? Because they had absolutely no way of knowing (due to having attended public school themselves) that the kid’s neighbor didn’t have a pet dinosaur, and thus the kid might really be planning to buy a gun and kill it.

    And, how can we argue with the results of these polices? It’s inarguable that the number of innocent dinosaurs slaughtered by gun-wielding kids is very, very low, so obviously, the policy works.

    The world needs policies such as these, for without them, we face the very real danger of waking up tomorrow and finding that dinosaurs have become extinct.

    1. My coworkers once asked me why I bought a 300 Winchester magnum off another coworker. I patiently explained that I have a nice garden and I thought it was a wise precaution to be able to defend my vegetables from any roaming rhinoceros or hippo. I hadn’t considered the possibility of a triceratops or I’d have gone with a relatively cheap bolt action chambered for .50 BMG.

      1. Actually, according to the big game hunters of the 1960s, the 300 Winchester Magnum was considered too lightweight a cartridge for the larger African game. The minimum preferred for the rhino was the 375 magnum, and a lot of people bagged their trophies with the larger 458 Winchester Magnum. OTOH, I recall reading one account of a confirmed elephant kill with a 22 LR.
        For Triceratops, the 50 BMG makes sense, as a starter. Me? I’d be looking at a 20 mm cannon…

  3. Forgive me if I missed any comments on this but the most important issue to me is not getting parents involved before anything else. These kids don’t belong to the school or the state. Parents need to be respected.

  4. “To put it more plainly: sometimes parents send their kids to private schools because the available public schools suck. When that’s the case, the private school knows it. The private school needn’t outcompete the public school with regard to issues like “cruelty toward dinosaurs”, and other such absurdities,”

    That is true but it depends on where the absurd rules originate. Private schools have to follow all of the same regulations that public schools do. Absurdity at the district level can be avoided but not at the state level. You are right that people will put up with things they don’t necessarily like if the thing they are concerned the most about, academic achievement, is being met. This is why many non-Catholics send their kids to Catholic schools. But how would things differ if public schools were better in terms of academics and had all of these progressive cultural rule sets? I think people would still look for an alternative because they don’t like the progressive ideology just like some people would never send their kids to a Catholic school because they don’t like Catholic ideology.

    We have separation of church and state but religion us just another ideology. What we have now, instead of the inculcation into a religion, is the inculcation into a political party and that goes against separation of church and state. We don’t have a state ideology that everyone must adhere to but that isn’t how things are working out in practice. Instead of progressives starting their own schools, like Catholics and others, they decided to take over the tools of the state.

    “private school is small slice of the school pie, and the available pie is further reduced by religious considerations and economic considerations”

    One religious consideration is that religion is studied at these schools. History of different religions and major events like the protestant reformation. Students don’t just learn about a specific religion but religion in general. But another religious consideration is that religious people are not welcome in many public schools. Secular Americans are not always very tolerant of religious people. A private school is a place to escape some of the bigotry and bullying. How welcoming is it when things like Christmas and Easter are banned from schools? Do we force feed Muslim students during Ramadan?

    Things that are important to Christian culture are banned from schools out of “tolerance” but in reality tolerance means that secular people should tolerate people’s religious beliefs and that religious people should tolerate other religions. Muslims shouldn’t be offended by Christmas and Christians shouldn’t be offended by Ramadan and secularists shouldn’t be offended that people have different beliefs than they do. Teachers should not preach progressive party ideology from their classroom pulpit or from district headquarters, which disenfranchises not just religious people but everyone who does not share their ideology.

    All things being equal in terms of academic achievement, people would still be looking for private schools to escape progressive indoctrination. Secular private schools that do not inculcate a particular ideology would see people from all backgrounds flock to them.

    Having said all of that, I don’t think this is a problem that is consistent from school to school across the country. There are a lot of public schools, most of them, that are not Democrat boot camps. Most of them are inclusive and respect their students beliefs. Obviously it varies a lot from district to district because for the moment, states and cities are still in charge of their own education.I live in Washington State, where No Child Left Behind was fought from all angles, Bush didn’t provide any money you know, but Common Core is embraced and the state and local districts employ a lot of their own resources to implement it.

  5. “Do we force feed Muslim students during Ramadan? “

    Force feed, per se? Doubtful.

    However, based on some of the school lunch programs and “mandatory reporting” requirements within schools, it wouldn’t surprise me if parents got turned in to their state’s Child Services departments because some “concerned” teacher saw their child refusing to eat during daylight hours at school.

  6. To avoid agreeing with bob, who seems to be all over the place but has a some what good point… I’ll throw this idea out as a thought process:

    What if public schools were required to give vouchers to expelled kids equivalent to average annual cost per student that the public schools receive from taxes or what the student’s parents pay in taxes to the school; which ever is lower?

    1. In my local school district, students can’t be expelled — they are transferred to a school-within-the-school for troubled youts. More school districts might use this approach if your scheme was a requirement under the law, in order to retain the taxes.

    2. or even better, give all parents vouchers so that they can send their child to the school of their choice.

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