Celebrate Diversity (at the point of a gun)


Sarah Grether :: MED Managing Editor, MCPP

In last week’s Michigan Education Digest, I covered the story of a female student at Wayland High School who was attacked by two students because of her sexual orientation and advocacy of gay rights. I’ve been following the story as it develops and one student was expelled (the other moved out of the district and could not be disciplined), while both attackers are charged with  aggravated assault. A third student who recorded the attack and posted it online will not be prosecuted.

Now, The Grand Rapids Press reports, after the attack, a group of parents established the Wayland/Union Safe Schools Coalition and are now pushing for diversity education for students and staff. Some parents are naturally skeptical and hesitant, arguing that the school is not responsible for moral education.

Lo, behold one of the major problems with government education! I personally believe that any good school will encourage students to think critically about those who are different from themselves, but by, more or less, forcing parents to send their children to public schools (because of the lack of any real primary and secondary education market: see this MCPP study if you are unfamiliar with market-based education reform) the state has created one of the single most inefficient systems to deal with individual differences, beliefs, values and preferences. Parents should be able to send their children to schools that reflect their values and goals, whether that be traditional or not.

Intolerance and ignorance are a societal disease, but education and cultural indoctrination at the point of a gun are far from reasonable or effective solutions.

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6 thoughts on “Celebrate Diversity (at the point of a gun)

  1. As far as I’m concerned, yes. My only concern, naturally, is the use of force.

    For example, even though I receive a lot of criticism from my fellow students, I’m a big fan of the “straight pride” t-shirt. Open-mindedness (or at least a willingness to think critically) should go both ways. Too often it doesn’t.

  2. Okay, so how do we celebrate the diversity among opinions as to how much force should be used and what kinds of force are acceptable? Obviously, those girls use of force is not being celebrated. Is that intolerant, since they were acting on their beliefs?

  3. In my understanding of the libertarian/classical liberal tradition, the use of force is a hinderance to the development of a civil society. The only use of force I view as valid is in self-defense or when a citizenship wishes to abolish and create a new form of government (but only after peaceful means have been exhausted.)

    I don’t think individuals who are disgusted by groups like the KKK should be viewed as “intolerant.” However, I do agree that drawing a line on “tolerating intolerance” is subjective.

  4. Who says anyone has to “celebrate” anything? It’s a free country – celebrate whatever you want, or nothing at all. Except on the 4th of July we should all celebrate how lucky we are to live in the most free, most prosperous nation in the history of the world (and maybe the do so a little every other day, too – thank God I live in modern America).

    BTW, here’s a great Andrew Coulson piece making essentially the same point that Ms. Grether does here, that if parents had choice regarding where to send their kids to school we wouldn’t have all these silly disputes about what should or should not be the practice in the centralized, socialized government school establishment; Coulson’s starting point is a creationism controversy: http://www.mackinac.org/article.aspx?ID=6938

  5. Everything about government schools and most other government agencies has to do with force and not voluntary choice. That’s what the word “mandate” means.

    1. Government schools must accept students from their district, regardless of how disruptive they are.
    2. Students must attend their assigned schools, if they want to use the government system.
    3. Government schools must use the state curriculum and give the state tests.
    4. Government schools must not use the Bible, must not pray, must not teach creationism, etc.

    In contrast,

    1. Private schools can choose to accept or expel any student.
    2. Students can choose any school to attend as long as they can meet the entrance requirements.
    3. Private schools can choose their curriculum and tests.
    4. Private schools can choose whether or not to use the Bible, pray, teach creationism, etc.

    School choice is about mutually voluntary choices. Government schools are about mandates.

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