Pity today’s schoolchildren. The past certainly had its problems, but many, many adults have fond memories of teachers who were trusted and deserved trust, school policies that retained some respect for individual students and their parents. Today, in some schools, a child who takes an aspirin for a headache is treated like a criminal. Never mind tolerance for the "smoke pit" in the schoolyard that was a rite of passage for so many of us …

Now, if news reports are to be believed, public school resembles some sort of medium-security prison. And a mindless "blanket no-drugs policy" means that in some schools, asthmatic children aren’t even permitted to use the inhalers that they need (which have been prescribed for them and duly purchased by their parents) without the school intervening, supervising and deciding whether or not it will be permitted.

Again, the police state mentality is winning. This sort of excess breeds cruelty, because when the good teachers — people with iintelligence, skill and compassion — burn out and leave for different sorts of jobs, the only ones remaining will be those with no other place to go. Who are those teachers? Invariably, the least intelligent, least skilled, and least compassionate. Such people are the best candidates for becoming de facto prison guards. They will be the police preventing the reemergence of a schoolyard "smoke pit" signifying at least one unsupervised department of adolescent life where kids get to negotiate who they are without adult interference. They will be the ideal sadists for overseeing a child in distress having an asthma attack, unmoved, while the proper bureaucratic procedures are followed to see if the child will be permitted to access his own property, his own medically necessary asthma drugs. Finally, they will be the school staff "stakeholders", nation-wide, who will have no courage, no principles, and no interest in mounting a political challenge to the "lessons in humiliation" of public education in the 21st century.



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