Three years ago this week I penned “School-to-Prison Pipeline?,” for the March 5th, 2015 edition of the Weirs Times. It could have been written yesterday.
I wrote that “Our education system should be refocused on meeting the educational needs of those children capable of functioning in a classroom. For many reasons, some children simply aren’t capable, and some make up what we call the criminal element.” I then asked if you’d want your child seated next to such a child.
When those words were printed, the future Parkland, FL, high school mass-murderer had already been placed at Cross Creek, a special school for students with emotional and behavioral disorders. A few months later, a school report would say that this young man was “distracted by inappropriate conversations by classmates” about “guns, people being killed, or the armed forces.” Less than a year later, he was reintegrated into regular classes at Stoneman Douglas High.
For that 2015 essay, I pulled this quote from neaToday, the mouthpiece for the nation’s largest teachers’ union:
”Fueled by zero tolerance policies and the presence of police officers in schools, and made worse by school funding cuts that overburden counselors and high-stakes tests that stress teachers, these excessive [discipline] practices have resulted in the suspensions, expulsions, and arrests of tens of millions of public school students, especially students of color and those with disabilities or who identify as LGBT.”
Talk about a swing and a miss. At the time, I described the article as “displaying the childlike quality of being simultaneously simplistic, self-aggrandizing, and just plain wrong.” Add to that list: Deadly.
The NEA complained that “…a quarter-million [students] were ‘referred’ to police officers for misdemeanor tickets, very often for offenses that once would have elicited a stern talking-to.”
We now know that officials at Stoneman Douglas shielded students’ criminal behaviors – including drug use and assaults – from the justice system, part of a federally-funded policy to bribe schools across the country into ignoring real criminality and focusing only on reportable crime metrics. The idea of reducing crime by not reporting it is insane.
The reality is that the prison pipeline predominately starts with bad families and dangerous communities. Does it surprise anyone that of the young men who turned into mass murderers since 2005, only one was raised by his biological father? (And that one – the Virginia Tech killer – was known to have been mentally unstable since childhood.)
Those who have long fought to end or substantially restrict of our Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms – the right that “shall not be infringed” – ignore that reality. They use every mass shooting to advance their cause, focusing on the gun rather than the person wielding it.
On the other side, the NRA may come across as dogmatic. But it stands fast against “common sense gun reforms,” because it knows full well that the American Left uses “common sense” only euphemistically; the phrase is simply a means to hide its true goal. NRA members like me know that the common denominator of violent crimes is not a particular weapon; it’s a person with criminal intent.
Nothing substantive will come from this most recent horrible experience. Nothing will come from the next. Solutions are beyond our grasp because one side simply can’t trust the other. I revere the wisdom of the Bill of Rights. I believe our Constitution is a living document only in the sense that there’s a well-defined process to amend it when necessary. I will never trust those who seek to circumvent that process and undermine those rights, especially when using dead or traumatized teenagers to advance a political agenda.
Trust requires context and confidence. As a sociopolitical movement, the American Left is undeserving of trust because, when viewed in context, its actions align not to the rule of law under our Constitution, but to a global political movement seeking to consolidate power within large bureaucracies. How can one confidently negotiate with such people when their North Star lies outside the Constitutional firmament?
These are the same people, after all, who also lead, encourage, and defend campus protests against the First Amendment’s free speech protections, using “hate speech” as their hook. When pressed, “hate speech” quickly devolves into “anything we don’t like or makes us feel bad.” That such a belief has become normalized at institutions dedicated to knowledge and inquiry is irony defined.
We will not solve cultural problems like mass shootings so long as the Right must work valiantly to shore up the Constitutional protections the Left is working feverishly to erode.