Many kids hate school. They don't like doing work, don't like following rules and don't like the teachers.
One of the things I don't like about school is that it's a dictatorship. America calls itself a democracy, and yet you have fascist authoritarian elements running through it; the F.B.I., the schools, the police, the C.I.A., the military.
I'm not saying students have a right to vote for their teachers, but the system is very exclusive. Students have absolutely no voice in school policies or curriculum. Parents are usually excluded in those two areas as well. From day one, you are taught that Columbus discovered America, that American Indians got in the way of civilized progress and that Vietnam was the aggressor in the Vietnam war. To my knowledge, administrators in state capitals decide the curriculum because they decide what the standards are. Administrators are not at all radical, and help protect the system that is failing. Even Cuba has a higher literacy rate than the U.S., and they're supposed to be "evil communists". There are no student or parent representatives present when they decide these standards. Standards are just what appears on the tests that the state sends out, nothing more.
At my school, student government is a f*cking joke. When metal detectors were put in, the student government was completely passive and docile about it, even though there was almost unanimous support for the removal of such devices.
The way the system is setup now, local property taxes make up the bulk of school revenue. So if you live in a poor neighborhood, your school will be underfunded. If you live in a well off neighborhood, your school will be properly funded. So the poor person's education is not as good as the rich person's education. Despite the claim that schools are "integrated", this is an outright lie. In city schools, African Americans and Latinos make up the bulk of the student body and in the suburbs, Caucasians make up probably 90% of the student body (that's just from what I've seen of suburban schools, that's not a figure from any study). African Americans make up a disproportionate amount of the poor. Most people in suburbs are well off, and the schools out there suffer from homogenization. When all the people you go to school with are rich white kids, you have a harder time relating to and communicating with people of different races and economic backgrounds. The system claims to be "integrated", but racial and economic segregation is still a dominant factor in public education.
School is supposed to prepare you for later on in life. If they take away your rights (or in the case of students, don't give them any in the first place) they are teaching you "don't expect rights later on in life, 'cause you ain't gettin' them." Since student government is powerless and docile, students are also taught that "representative government" (supposedly what the U.S. is based on, even though less than half of the eligible population votes) is ineffective and so you might as well forget about resistance.
Metal detectors are just a small part of the campaign to criminalize youth, which I will discuss later on in this site. Law enforcement always tries to take away people's rights (through fear and intimidation a.k.a. terrorism), and this is just a small part of a larger campaign.
Another thing about school that upsets me is the level of math we learn. Why do I need truth tables and geometric formulas? The only reason for taking such courses is to supplement later more advanced courses. If you are not going to be an engineer or math teacher, why take these courses? Why is it that at ninth and tenth grade, students still need to be taught proper grammar and the difference between nouns and verbs? In New York state, grammar has been de-emphasized in favor of idea development. Obviously, the people who worked out this policy are the victims of the educational system (how ironic). Grammar used to be the staple of the english curriculum (at least in N.Y.), and now they want to talk about "idea development". This is probably why reading scores are rather low. Grammar gives you the tools for "idea development", and therefore must be mastered first.
Tests are abused in schools. The system gives you a grinding pace of test after test after test. The S.A.T.'s are looked upon with almost life-or-death reverence (or fear). Almost all the tests are multiple choice, which is the greatest thing ever invented from a student's point of view. At least you have a chance at passing a test you did little or no studying for (believe me, I've done it). The most difficult tests are essays, which are under-utilized. Also, face to face conversation is something that is totally unutilized. What better way to test someone than have a conversation about the subject or on certain opinions on current events that involve that subject? Or if they're too lazy or short on time to do those things, they should just have no choices listed (just a question with a blank next to it). That way, you can really tell if the student has been learning and studying, but also if the teacher has done his or her job. So if multiple choice tests are not effective in testing the knowledge of students, why bother using them? THEY ARE EASY TO CORRECT.
What pisses me off is that the state will raise standards even though many of the students can't pass the original standards in the first place. "Can't jump seven feet? Jump twelve." What kind of sense does that make? And then the media and politicians bitch about how no one can meet the state's new standard(s)! What a bunch of a%%&^#!%.
The above strategy of "no choice tests" might be abused to reinforce idealogical and biased points of view. Students might be forced to know the half-truths and lies by heart and also argue on their behalf, and that would be wrong.
Contrary to popular belief, schools are NOT there to give you an education per se. The function of a school is to provide a pool of worker-consumers (that's who creates all the wealth in the economy) who are obedient, docile and indoctrinated properly with false preconceived notions about everything from market economies and the Founding Fathers to race relations and the role that popular struggles play in changing society for the better. You may be scratching your head at this point and thinking "what the hell is this guy talking about?"
In school, communism and socialism are equated with what the Soviet Union had; central planning. Central planning is very authoritarian and inefficient, to make a long story short. Markets are presented as the only alternative to communism, which is a conclusion based on the false pretense that the Soviet Union's economy was socialist. The Soviet Union had a system of state capitalism, where the state owned the means of production, rather than the workers. They also do some Marx bashing and that's the extent of what you learn about communism and socialism.
The Founding Fathers are hailed as freedom fighters and virtuous men, even though when they wrote "We the people..." they were all rich white slaveowners. Oops. That's not something they talk about in school. The only people who had the right to vote were property owning white men, who made up a MINORITY of the population. That's something they don't talk about either. If you want to read a book about the subjects I mentioned above, read "A People's History of the United States 1492-Present" by Howard Zinn.
Back to the subject. So far the system is working. Most kids in schools today have no political ideas independent from what they "learned" in school (this is also true with most adults). Most people are not politically active (just voting every 2 or 4 years is NOT enough). The (ab)use of tests by schools develops the regurgitory (is that a word?) skills of a student. You are spoon fed half-truths and lies, and then you just spit out what they feed you. If you hear a point of view over and over again for years and years and are tested repeatedly about the validity of that point of view, eventually you will believe it. All schools are regurgitory indoctrination centers.
Whether or not you actually think or get an education in school is not something that matters to the system. They educate you enough so that you will not interfere with the capitalist machinery, and they encourage you to join it and relish it. The mind of the student is never free from manipulation. From television, to teen magazines and stereotypes to the schools themselves; they all reinforce the same values of ignorance, hypocrisy, racism, sexism and most important of all, COMPLACENCY.
If you fail in school, you are more likely to be impoverished. For people who fail school or refuse to cooperate, there's always the jails. Contrary to popular belief, criminals help supplement big business and the capitalist system because it costs a lot of money to feed and clothe a person for years and also to build and maintain large "correctional facilities". Prison labor is also a source of cheap labor, which I will address in my article on the prison-industrial complex.
As a student, you have no right to stand up to your teachers (just like inmates cannot resist guards, no matter how abusive they are), no matter how wrong they are. For example, after the Columbine massacre, I heard a story about a student who got in trouble for bringing his (or her) chemistry book to school (the argument was that the book could facilitate bomb making). I also heard a story about a student who was suspended for having a magazine that had an advertisement for firearms. Students at one suburban school in my area are no longer allowed to bring BOOKBAGS to school. Can you imagine coming home from school and telling your mother "I got suspended from school for bringing a bookbag!" At many schools, trenchcoats are banned from schools despite the fact that many of the other school shootings had nothing to do with trenchcoats. The argument is that "out of respect for the victims for the Columbine massacre" students should not wear the attire that the murderers wore. How about not bringing a gun to school? Wouldn't that be more respectful and appropriate?
I've heard of students who refused to say the Pledge of Alleigance and were suspended. Fuck that! I'm not pledging alleigance to anything having to do with God (no offense intended). I'm not pledging alleigance to a flag either! At the beginning of the school year, I and all my other fellow students were FORCED by the school administration to sign a paper that said we must cooperate with all the rules and the scanning procedure, which in essence means that we have no rights and have no choice but submission.
As I said before, the purpose of a school is not to educate people per se, but to provide a pool of worker-consumers who are obedient, docile and indoctrinated properly with false preconceived notions. They do this by making you sit still in one seat for most of the day, just like in a cubicle at work. While sitting in that seat, you must be silent and put up with boring, tiresome and repetitive indoctrination sessions. A lot of people are politically indifferent because American history is taught without dynamics. During a time of crisis, don't join a political movement, rely on leaders to take care of you. During the Revolution, the Founding Fathers. During the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln. During the Industrial Revolution, Theodore Roosevelt. During the Depression, F.D.R. During the Civil Rights movement, J.F.K. History as it is taught now ignores popular struggle and the effects it had on society. Bells ring at certain times, conditioning you to wait for the bell. School conditions you to put up with boring, pointless, meaningless and worthless sh*t so that when you join the workforce, you'll continue to act as you have been conditioned to. The absence of a real student government (one that is not docile and passive) only serves to reinforce the feeling of helplessness you feel in school. That feeling of helplessness is transferred to the workplace when hundreds or thousands of employees are laid off. You can only hope to survive through brown nosing and working purely in your own self interest, instead of uniting and fighting. That feeling of helplessness in school is also transferred to the electoral process. If you see only two parties, and the t.v. tells you to vote for one or the other, you will either do that or you won't vote. Althroughout your life, you've felt helpless to change the world around you.
Steven Biko once said "The most potent weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed." Most school lasts 6 hours a day, 5 days a week, 10 months a year, for 13 years (K-12)! A large chunk of your youth's waking moments are spent sitting still, obeying orders and being taught that you can't do sh#t about it. School serves to shape the mind of the oppressed, conditions you, trains you to be docile, passive and at most, selfish. The only hope is to organize. Organize outside of school, form a union of sorts. Don't participate in student goverment; they don't have any power. Help people understand how the system works, why it works that way, and what people can do about it.