Expatriate Owl

A politically-incorrect perspective that does not necessarily tow the party line, on various matters including but not limited to taxation, academia, government and religion.

Friday, April 29, 2011

First Amendment, Second Class Education

When I was in senior high school (let alone junior high), it was well understood that students were expected to attend classes for the duration of the class session, until dismissed by the teacher. We were not allowed to cut classes, and we were not allowed to leave the classes before dismissal.

And if, by whatever circumstance, we deigned to walk out of class (or, more commonly, were ordered out by the teacher on account of our suboptimal decorum), we were required to report directly to the Vice Principal's office for such action as he deemed appropriate. All else being equal, the consequences would be a one day after-school detention for the first offense, a two day after-school detention for the second offense, and a one-day suspension for the third offense (a level I was skillful enough to personally achieve).

But now, the New York Civil Liberties Union takes the position that students should be allowed to walk out of classes with impunity if the action is for political purposes! Some students at the Ralph J. Reed Middle School in Central Islip, NY, walked out of classes in protest against some proposed budget cuts by the school district.

Hey, aren't the students allowed to exercise their First Amendment free speech rights by talking about whatever the wish during travel time between classes, during lunch, before and after school, et cetera? Shouldn't the teachers have the right to demand the undivided attention of the students during classes? Apparently, the NYCLU (and by extension, its parent organization, the ACLU, from whose policies the NYCLU would never deviate) thinks that freely walking out of classes in the name of free expression and the First Amendment is more important than a first-rate education.

I can see reasons for prioritizing free expression over education. But if students seek to walk in and out of classes, willy-nilly, and thereby subvert the educational process and the teachers' lesson plans, then they should exercise their First Amendment rights on their parents' dimes, and not the taxpayers'. Because if the teachers are not allowed to teach, then they are relegated to being babysitters, and should be paid babysitter wages with our tax money and not teacher wages.

Better still -- Get the students who do not want to learn out of the classrooms, so that those dedicated professionals in the classrooms can get their smaller class sizes, and those students who do wish to learn can do so without the distraction of the other pantywaist.

There is a time and place for political protest. But there also is a time and place for the education of our children.

To Central Islip School District Superintendent Craig Carr, I say stand by the suspensions and tell the NYCLU to go take a hike!

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  • At 29 April, 2011 20:57, Blogger NE said…

    I'm a big ACLU advocate but I support your position on this situation. Violating school rules should come with the chance of consequences. If you believe your cause is righteous then you should be willing to sacrifice. Honestly, having a big chunk of the school suspended was probably a more successful act of protest than the protest itself.

  • At 29 April, 2011 21:20, Blogger Expatriate Owl said…

    Yes, sometimes the countermeasures taken by your adversaries actually make more hay for you than for them.

    Such was the case with the ACLU's Skokie Affair, which (A) upset more people than the Nazis could have upset acting alone, and (B) induced more ACLU members to quit than the ACLU's detractors, acting alone, could have convinced to leave the ACLU.

    [For the record, I allowed my ACLU membership to lapse after Skokie.].


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