Shorter Paul Foer: “Kids don’t need to learn, they need to recreate the ’60’s!”

Paul Foer over on his blog and at FSP is horrified that students who disrupted the school day at Annapolis High School were suspended:

Here is what the Capital story tells us:

Three students were arrested at Annapolis High Thursday afternoon for staging a sit-in to protest the Iraq war, according to county police.

Kit Whitacre, 17, was among the students arrested. He said they had only been sitting on the floor for about 10 or 15 minutes when administrators began threatening them, and the police officer stationed in the school called for backup, flashing sets of plastic handcuffs.

“We just sat down in front of the main office,” Kit said. “We didn’t want to go to class, because we felt it’s unfair other people our age are in Iraq.”

County police said yesterday they charged the three students with disorderly and disruption of school activity. They would not give names of those arrested because the report has not yet been filed, and because those arrested are juveniles.

Bob Mosier, a spokesman for the school system, said “appropriate disciplinary action” was taken against the protesting students. He would not specify what disciplinary action was taken.

“You can’t disturb the instructional day,” Mr. Mosier said. “That’s in the code of student conduct.”

Now, I will say that arresting the students was probably a little over the top. But I don’t see a real big problem with suspending the students for their actions. Their actions are no different than any other stunt pulled to intentionally disrupt learning in their school. The students made a choice to make a spectacle of themselves and they got suspended for it. It’s not like they were suspended specifically for protesting the war.

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Paul Foer then takes it completely off the tracks:

Contrast this to the Vietnam era when we had a draft and for most purposes, had to pay for the war. The young people went nuts, and their protests eventually brought about an end to the war. And our country seems to have collective amnesia about every lesson we should have learned from that folly. So, after all these years in Iraq, trillions squandered and many thousands dead,we seem to forget all the lies foisted upon us by Bush and Cheney Incorporated. Instead, we take a few students who sat down peacefully and suspend them for ten days.

If Foer wants to argue the war, he can go ahead and do so and spill his offbeat, fringe opinions about the war to his hearts content. But to say that the kids should not be suspended because the war is still going and that’s what we are doing “instead” of “learning the lessons” so to speak about the war is foolhardy.

Then, Foer seemingly encourages students to shut down the school day:

Perhaps, yes perhaps, if cooler heads prevail, we’ll get a massive student protest going and maybe we’ll shut the whole school down for ten days. That might make a point. As the parent of an Annapolis HS student, I’m all for it. It might make the lessons my son is learning about US government and history all the more meaningful. And if he gets suspended for ten days, we’ll go visit all the war memorials in Washington, stroll among the gardens of stones at Arlington, visit our Senators and Congressman to protest. He might learn more than he does in school.

Apparently, Foer thinks that nonviolent protest of a war is more important for his son than actually receiving instruction that will prepare him for the rest of his life. And as a parent, Foer has that right. However, he does not have the right to take opportunities for learning away from the other students at Annapolis High School. He doesn’t have the right to encourage protest of a war in lieu of learning about science, about history, and about math. For some of these students who go to Annapolis High, education is the only way out of their socioeconomic situation. They may only have the opportunity to go to college through what they learn during the school day. Why should they be denied that right when some of the uppity Annapolis-area bourgeoisie want to relive the Sixties vicariously through their children.

Ironically, Foer’s idea to shut down Annapolis High will take educational opportunities away from the lower and middle classes who attend Annapolis. It may also keep kids out of college who then, ironically, may feel like they need to enlist and wind up fighting in the war that Foer so passionately opposes. Funny, I thought liberals were for education and against sending our kids to war.

Foer’s assertions that this kind of nonviolent protest should be encouraged are disturbing. We should be encouraging students to go to school to get an education, not do the bidding of their parents by protesting a war. Education is everything, and nobody on the right or the left should be encouraging its disruption for any reason.


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