School Fight! The Way Of Peace Is To Let Go

This is so bad you can’t help laughing. One of the great things that Twitter has bought us (despite being laughably over-valued) is politicians and intellectuals losing all dignity in publicly fighting with each other. reports, “Name-calling turns nasty in education world.”

When major figures in the education world debate policy, they usually start out with a gauzy declaration that it’s all about the children.

Then they begin hurling insults.

High-profile activists including union leaders and at least one member of Congress have tarred one another with choice epithets including slave master, murderer, bitch, charlatan, roach and bully bound for hell. And that’s just in the past six months.

Behind the nasty rhetoric are substantive disagreements over important issues like charter schools, teacher evaluations and private school vouchers. But the substance tends to get lost in all the smack talk.

The examples are hilarious and sad. “Leaders of all camps in the education debate say they are weary of the nastiness.” But they can’t stop it and they even defend it when pressed.

For those who have read Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, or who know the story, it should be obvious that education policy is the Ring of Power. All the kings and warriors want to wear the ring because they are convinced that they can use it for good. But it proves too dangerous, because the power of the ring overwhelms the bearer. The only possible solution is to hold the ring over the mystical fire and let go of it. Drop it into destruction and leave it behind.

The way of peace is to just let go.

Just end all ambitions and plans regarding education policy.

No more public education system in the nation (unless a state wants to have one using its own resources). No more Federal department of education. No more truancy laws. No more standardized tests. Private tutors, school co-ops, homeschooling parents, and self-teaching students can subscribe to the tests they think will give them and others accurate appraisals.

No more Federal policies regarding education because there is no longer anything to police. No more fights about curriculum because curriculum has nothing to do with public policy any more. No more panicked comparisons of “our” children to those in China, Belgium, or Timbuktu because there is no longer anything to compare. We don’t even show up at the competition. We opt out. We let go. No more truancy laws. No more child labor laws aimed at keeping children in school (I’m not saying we get rid of child labor laws aimed at preventing them from being harmed, over-worked, or exploited).

What happens then?

Society takes care of itself. And it does so in many different ways. Churches will offer literacy classes. Volunteers and non-profit organizations will assist.

What happens without the billions spent on institutionalizing our children? They (with early help from parents or volunteers) take care of themselves. People have given themselves over to the preposterous fantasy that literacy rates would drop without a national educational system. Every bit of evidence we have from our national history says exactly the opposite would happen. Literacy rates would go up. No longer would anyone be forced to rely on a school that wasn’t teaching children how to read.

Just let go. Give up the ambitions of power and national salvation. Stop pretending you have the authority to teach all the children.

Let the ring go.