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First of all, let’s get this out of the way in the first paragraph. They are not “public schools.” They are government schools. They are owned and operated by government. Every employee, from the superintendent to the dishwasher in the cafeteria, is a government employee. So, let’s call them what they are. Government schools.

Being government employees, you would expect those who work in government schools to have the same behavioral characteristics as other government employees. You would be right. They react to the threat of privatization with the ferocity of a cornered bobcat and to the threat of accountability with the evasiveness of cockroaches.

The truth, though, is that these are not so much schools as they are indoctrination centers. If your child is attending a Catholic school, you should expect that your child would be taught that the Catholics pretty well have this religion thing down cold. Ditto for a Jewish school, or one operated by a Christian fundamentalist church. Question: Will a government school be any different? Why would you expect a government employee in a government institution to tell your children that government is not necessarily the answer to every problem or critter that goes bump in the night?

The new school year has been under way for several weeks now. Maybe it’s time to give you a hint of what your child has been through.

Do you remember those weeks before school started for your first grader? There you were, you and your proud new student walking the aisles of the local Costco with your list of school supplies in hand. You checked off the pencils, a ruler, a compass, paste, construction paper, a pencil holder, notebooks and erasers.

At home, your first grader takes the supplies into his room and spreads everything out on the bed. Arranges them this way – then that way. Pencils next to the erasers, glue and construction paper lined up over here, compass and ruler lined up over there. These are his supplies. His! Do you hear? And tomorrow he is going to take them to school. He couldn’t be more proud.

Finally, the first day of school arrives. The night before all of the school supplies are packed, repacked, unpacked and repacked again. Then, that morning, just one more unpacking and repacking to make sure everything’s still there and undamaged. OK! It’s off we go to school! Apprehension mixed with pride. Your young man or woman is taking another grand step toward adulthood! What could go wrong?

Plenty. Remember, it’s a government operation.

The students are seated, the bell rings. As fast as you can say the Pledge of Allegiance without the “under God” part, the indoctrination begins. The government teacher steps in front of her virtual hostages and promptly delivers the first raw lesson in the power of government. The students are instructed to bring all of their precious school supplies – their property – to the front of the classroom and put them into a huge box. They are told that the supplies belong to all of the class now, and the teacher will assume the responsibility of distributing the supplies as they are needed.

“Whoaa! Hold on a minute here! These are my supplies. My daddy bought them for me. You can’t have them! They’re mine!”

Nope. Sorry! They were yours. Now all those supplies belong to – guess who? The government!

There’s a method to this madness. Your child is being taught that there are some severe limits to the concept of private property. It is perfectly OK, for instance, if the government just steps up and seizes your property if there are other people who might need some of your stuff. After all, it’s just not right for you to have something that other people don’t have or can’t share in, is it?

This whole “dump your supplies into this box” is not an innocent exercise. Your child’s teacher might not even be aware of it, but this lesson in government power is a time-honored method of introducing your child to the concept that there is something basically wrong with owning private property – but everything will be OK if you just let your superiors even things out a bit by taking some stuff from you and giving it to someone else.

How did Marx present this concept? I think it was something like “From each according to his ability; to each according to his need.”

Day number one, lesson number one: Your rights to your property exist only so long as government will allow, and it’s just not fair to have more stuff than someone else.

And this is just the first week! More surprises in store! Wait until you get that call from your child’s teacher with vague, dark hints of a better world for your child if only he was on Ritalin.

 

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