We Don't Need No Education

I remember a commercial for an evangelical christian college that ran sometime in the 70's claiming to "send your children back to you exactly as they were when you entrusted them to us."

I read that as a promise from the college to refrain from educating your children at all. My mother-in-law du temps, visiting at the time, sighed audibly and said, "Oh, I wish I had sent Barry there."

Today it sometimes seems that the promise to ensure that your children never ever encounter an idea other than the ones you taught them at your knee has become more than the standard wail of a parent who sees a beloved child choosing a path they don't understand. It has become an actual aspiration, one made possible by such institutions as Bob Jones University, Oral Roberts University, and Liberty College. Michelle Bachmann is a graduate of Oral Roberts University, if that tells you anything.

Book banning has been popular since there were books - editions of the Bible in languages other than Latin were banned almost as soon as the printing press was invented. Just last year, The Diary of Anne Frank, Brave New World, The Catcher in the Rye, and Slaughterhouse Five were taken from schoolhouse shelves in different parts of this country. And that's a small percentage of those so listed. The others are too recent and I'm too old to have read.

Home schooling has gained a certain popularity in the last 20 years or so. I recognize that there are instances in which home schooling might be necessary, or even advantageous - if you are someone from my side of the aisle whose neighborhood school has just banned The Diary of Anne Frank, for instance, or if you have a special needs child who cannot be accommodated by your local school system. Many states have instituted guidelines for home schooling, protocols and curriculums that parents are expected to follow, in order to ensure that the child receives an actual education.

Many other states haven't.

Just this week, we were treated to a member of Congress, one who sits on the Congressional Committee of Science, Space and Technology, claiming that women's bodies have a shut-off valve that prevents impregnation during rape. He comes from one such state and is, by some accounts, supported by a contingent of evangelical home schoolers determined to ensure that their children learn nothing more than what they are able or willing to teach them.

I am a fan of Pink Floyd, and I remember when The Wall came out. I listened to it. I danced to it. I went to see the movie at my university. Which wasn't afraid to sponsor a movie with the lyric, We don't need no education, we don't need no thought control. Possibly because my university, a state university, trusted its students to find their own way through the morass of ideas.

From where I stand, graduates of the likes of Oral Roberts, Bob Jones, and Liberty didn't get no education. The home-schooled of Missouri are in much more danger of thought control. None of which would matter much if they were all left to live their narrow little lives in relative comfort. But they are on the Committee of Science, Space and Technology. They are on the Permanent Select Committee of Intelligence. They want to eliminate the Department of Education.

After the movie, on the way back to the student union, one of our group, in a fruitless gesture of solidarity with Pink, ripped a little sign off one of the offices we passed on the way. Office of Adult Learners. Somehow I ended up with it. It hangs on my home office door to this day.