TEACHING AN END TO FREEDOM
SCHOOLING AWAY OUR RIGHTS
Is It Any Wonder Students Don't Know Their Rights?
Wonder Why Our Civil Liberties Are In Danger?In particular, educators are failing to give high school students an appreciation of the First Amendment’s guarantees of free speech and a free press, say researchers from the University of Connecticut, who questioned more than 100,000 high school students, nearly 8,000 teachers, and more than 500 administrators and principals. [...] The survey suggests that First Amendment rights – freedom of speech, of the press, of religion, of assembly and the right to petition the government for a redress of grievances – would be universally known if they were classroom staples.
Among its findings: * Nearly three-fourths of high school students either do not know how they feel about the First Amendment or admit they take it for granted. * Seventy-five percent erroneously think flag burning is illegal. * Half believe the government can censor the Internet. * More than a third think the First Amendment goes too far in the rights it guarantees.
Courts keep ruling away students' most basic rights and freedoms. Participation in "extra-curricular" activities like sports, band, drama and other clubs is often contingent on giving up even more rights, "voluntarily." And these students all know, from early childhood, that their future in the adult world depends upon their "career" in school. If they don't "perform" and "behave," our ever-more ruthless and rigid class structure will grind them up and spit them out.
Meanwhile, many of these schools are under tremendous budgetary constraints, and more and more demanding mandates from municipal, county, State and Federal governments. Politicians, administrators, school boards, interest groups, teachers unions, taxpayers and parents all place more pressure on the schools, which respond by pre-emptively clamping down on teachers and students.
In this repressive atmosphere, how the Hell could anybody teach anyone anything, much less their theoretical rights? Students today must naturally regard things like the US Constitution as strange, incomprehensible documents of a bygone era. And maybe they are. But don't blame the students, or the teachers.
Did it ever occur to anyone that, while protecting these kids from everything under the sun, we might be teaching them by our actions that civil liberties, human rights, basic freedoms, even human dignity itself were meaningless concepts that simply do not apply, at least not under "special circumstances"? It's like a Third-World dictator's "State of Emergency:" Carte blanche to simply eliminate all rights. This is what we are teaching our children, by so restricting their freedoms: Freedom means nothing to us.
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