| September 3, 2013

Bulletproof school supplies point up the need for parental choice

Last year in Perspective, I pointed out that Horace Mann, generally regarded as the father of America’s public school system, once predicted: “Let the Common School ... be worked with the efficiency of which it is susceptible, and nine tenths of the crimes in the penal code would become obsolete; the long catalogue of human ills would be abridged.”

Suffice it to say it hasn’t quite worked out that way. Not only are the crimes not obsolete, they are now being committed in the schools themselves. … Scarcely a day goes by that we’re not treated to an appalling new headline about some student or teacher behaving badly. It’s not a stretch to say that many schools — architecturally soulless buildings replete with metal detectors and police officers, and sometimes even put on lockdown — bear a striking resemblance to prisons.

Indeed, in Oklahoma City crimes are now being committed in schools named for Horace Mann himself. It’s just something “the kids feel like they have to get used to,” one parent said. And one history teacher at a Tulsa public high school reminds us that in downtown Tulsa the Horace Mann Junior High School later became the Horace Mann Community Correctional Center. (“From ‘prison’ to ‘prison’ without anyone noticing any substantial change in mission statement,” he quips.)

And even as you’re trying to decide whether to laugh or cry, the hits just keep on coming. Pat Toddy reports for the CBS affiliate in Philadelphia ("Could Bulletproof Be The New Trend In School Supplies?" ):

It’s the newest way to give parents peace of mind when they’re sending their children off to school post-Sandy Hook: bulletproof school supplies, and some people are even giving them as gifts. Is bulletproof the new normal in school accessories? The company Mighty Mojo thinks so. At the urging of a family member who was traumatized by a school lockdown, the firm developed a bullet-proof insert for backpacks or even binders. Students and parents loved the idea.

Here’s the company’s ad. I regret to inform you that this is not a Saturday Night Live parody:

Is school violence really something the kids should “have to get used to”? The answer is no. Parents who fear for their children’s safety should be given other options (tax credits, vouchers, Education Savings Accounts, et al.) right now.

Whether you’re a conservative worried about students with guns or a liberal worried about teachers with guns,I hope you’ll agree it’s time to empower parents.

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