Archive for February 24th, 2012


school is prison

Ask almost any child why they don’t like school and they will tell you (in these or equivalent words): “School is prison.”

The more bright, creative, and self-directed a child is, the more likely you are to get this answer because the “fit” between conventional schools and our highest-potential young people could not be worse.

Children learn best and most when they are free to decide and do for themselves.  Like all human beings, children crave freedom and hate to have it restricted.

They are biologically wired to use their freedom to educate themselves. (See my December 10, 2010 post, “Too Cool for School” at, about the Sudbury Schools, where children explore and play freely and learn most of what they need to know about their physical and social world to be successful.) In conventional public schools, children are told they must stop following their interests, and instead, do only what the teacher tells them to do—which increasingly is preparing for standardized tests. This is why kids don’t like school and why school puts many of our best students to sleep.

Contrary to everything you are lead to believe, schools are designed to drum the potential out of children: they dumb down kids, extinguish creativity, and suppress initiative. Or put another way, schools are designed to “break” your child in the same sense as one breaks a wild horse for riding.

And here is the truth about schools that most parents would prefer not to acknowledge: if your child refuses to be broken, if your child’s spirit is too strong, if your child’s thinking is too independent and fearless, if your child is nonconformist and disdainful of arbitrary authority, your school is designed to ultimately and literally transition your child into real prison.

If you think I’m exaggerating, please consider this alarming fact: according to the December 5, 2011 Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, at least 1 in 3 young people today will have been arrested by age 23—and this excludes arrests for traffic offenses. This compares to just 1 in 5 people arrested (23%) in the 1960s.

Young people today are not more lawless and criminal than in the past; most of these increased arrests are for offenses as minor as curfew violations, nonviolent drug and alcohol offenses, and normal misbehavior at school. We are criminalizing a wider range of normal human behaviors and, instead of working harder to keep kids in school, we are sending them off to prison at three times the cost to taxpayers.

Visit this site for a highly informative video about the problem:

Why is this happening? Quite simply, our society has invested in a huge build-up of prison capacity—beds to be filled—a growing proportion of which is controlled by private for-profit prison companies that are getting states to agree to occupancy guarantees in their service contracts. This increased prison capacity is fueling a relentless demand for more prisoners, and the hungry “corrections” industry (both public and private) is successfully lobbying for ever-more-severe laws concerning what is considered a crime and the length of time young offenders must be locked up for ever-more-innocuous transgressions.

The prison industry is targeting your children to meet its hungry profit goals, and it has turned to the schools to provide the mechanisms to feed its ravenous appetite for bodies to fill its cells and cots. Under the guise of “protecting” our children, police have been permanently stationed in the schools and regularly conduct intrusive searches and illegal interrogations of children outside the presence of parents, guardians, and attorneys.

The most vulnerable—children of the poor, children of color, children with learning disabilities and special needs—these are the first ones targeted, but they are by no means the only ones at risk. “Zero tolerance” policies with mandatory sanctions have been put in place for a wide range of offenses, thereby eliminating discretion and common sense as expectations for the ways that school administrators normally deal with disciplinary problems.

Children as young as four have been shackled and placed in juvenile detention facilities for an absurd range of offenses including “sexual harassment,” “threatening violence,” and “disrupting the learning environment.” In late 2011 an Albuquerque middle-schooler was even arrested by police for audibly belching in gym class and was hauled off in handcuffs to juvenile detention. What’s worse is the school authorities never notified his parents, who worried for the boy’s safety when he didn’t return home from school that day.

This has all gone too far.

The schools have become hostile and dangerous environments for children, not because of higher levels of real crime or physical danger in the schools, but because of school and police policies that place all children at risk of being shunted into the “school-to-prison pipeline” with irreversible lifelong consequences.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: compulsory public schooling is child abuse, and we are paying vast sums to inflict it on our children.


Groove of the Day

Listen to Mojo Nixon performing “High School Is A Prison”