As regular readers of this blog know, I’m concerned about authoritarian approaches to K-12 education because I’m concerned about the increasing acceptance of authoritarian values in America generally. The choices that our schools are making often seem like miniature, entry-level versions of the choices that confront our country in areas such as foreign policy, state security, and criminal justice.
Earlier this week, in a post about the now-common practice of requiring kids to get their parents’ signatures on their homework, I argued that it violates basic principles of justice and due process for a school to punish a student for the conduct of his or her parents. Also this week, the issue of the limits of the President’s authority to target and kill American citizens finally received widespread attention in the media. In a short-lived filibuster against the nominee for CIA director, one senator alluded to the drone-inflicted death of a sixteen-year-old American citizen whose father was an alleged terrorist and asked, “If you happen to be the son of a bad person, is that enough to kill you?” The next day, the Senate confirmed the CIA nominee.
In less than fifteen years, we’ve gone from a country in which torture was uniformly reviled to one in which it is commonly defended. In less than five years, we’ve gone from a country in which one party was largely united against the use of torture and indefinite warrantless detention, even during wartime, to one in which there is wide bipartisan acceptance of the idea that the President can kill American citizens without any judicial process or oversight, potentially even on American soil.
I don’t know which is the egg and which is the chicken, but if we were trying to create schools that would make students inured to the erosion of civil liberties and the expansion of unchecked state authority, it’s hard to know what we would do differently.
Related posts here, here, here, here, here, here, and throughout the site.