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I Like This Feeling
Originally published in Alliance e-Notes, Vol. 1, No. 1, January 25, 2007
For twenty years I’ve been fielding calls from desperate parents of public schooled children. Back in the early days the complaints were bad enough — children spending seven hours a day in school and learning nothing, merciless taunting by classmates and officials who wouldn’t do a thing about it, cutting remarks by teachers.
Today’s scene is scarier and more heartbreaking.
Let me tell you a few of the stories I’ve heard over the past couple of years. I’d rather not have to relate these stories. When I write I try to express myself in ways that most parents would feel comfortable allowing their teens to read. I can’t do that this time. Some truths can’t be wrapped in comfortable euphemisms.
Let me add that these stories are indeed representative of a bigger picture. I could tell many more than I’m going to share here. Names have been changed to protect the innocent....
These are all stories I have personally heard from and discussed with parents. The grumblings of a few disaffected individuals, you think? As I mentioned, it’s the tip of the iceberg in my twenty-year collection of stories. But I went to public school myself; I have plenty of my own stories to tell — and that was 30+ years ago.
Every day in American state schools, thousands upon thousands of children are verbally and physically assaulted, groped, humiliated, cursed at, called stupid, denied privacy and basic rights, unjustly punished, and the list could go on.
The situation is getting worse, not better. All the feeble character education programs, conflict resolution courses and anger management classes make not a whit of difference. School officials either cannot or will not take effective action. Parents who stand up for their victimized children are labeled trouble-makers and their children suffer the consequences. And how many children don't dare tell?
Public schools have become institutions of all-around abuse — academic, emotional, psychological and physical. The system makes both the patients and the doctors sicker in every way.
In the end, millions of young adults are spit out, thoroughly prepped for the college social scene of drinking and promiscuity, psychiatrists’ couches, drug and alcohol addiction, dysfunctional relationships and the endless search for love and acceptance. Their words may reflect high self-esteem, but their actions reflect quite the opposite.
The individuals who emerge reasonably whole are the exception, as our institutions and medicines of emotional healing well testify.
The situation would be completely hopeless but for a small and growing element of parents who are opting out of the terminally ill system. This is the hope of the future, our chance to repair the damage, to find renewal, to salvage what’s left and begin to build again.
All of us who are able and who care must find ways to empower these parents and the many more who stand at the edge of freedom’s circle, desperately wanting in but lacking the know-how or options that will work for them.
There is still hope, but the opportunity will not last forever. The move to keep families dependent on state education is strong. It is up to us to educate and empower families. Strong, confident, committed, equipped parents are the only answer to the increasing crisis of state schooling.
Today, I talked with three parents just entering the ranks of the liberated, and my commitment was renewed by their relief and excitement over the hope they’d discovered for their children’s future.
I like being a part of this renewal. I like seeing children freed to become happy, whole adults. It’s a good feeling.
Some of the more