A Cautious Man
November 10, 2003
 
Education Pundit
Anybody who's tried blogging has looked at Instapundit, either to "emulate the master" or to find topics to torque one off. Being in the latter category, this item just seemed to jump out. Specifically, it was Professor Reynolds' pithy entry today: THE GOOSE CREEK INCIDENT -- a commercial for homeschooling and vouchers? The referenced story is one you may have read, concerning a school in South Carolina where a drug bust was attempted. The police came in, searching for drugs. There were videos of the police with guns drawn, and students on the floor while searches were being conducted:
Graham Boyd of the American Civil Liberties Union says police officers should never have come into the school with guns drawn. Instead, the students suspected of having drugs should have been brought to the principal's office to have their bags checked.

The school's principal says the raid sends a clear message to the students that those who bring drugs to school could wind up in jail. Principal George McCrackin stands behind the decision, "The high school has always had a reputation for being a safe, clean school. And I'll utilize whatever forces I deem necessary to keep this campus safe and clean."

McCrackin says several students were cuffed when they refused to get on the floor, "I don't think it was an overreaction on our part. I'm sure it was an inconvenience to those individuals who were in the hallway, but there is a valuable experience there."

School officials say there have been at least four cases of students bringing drugs to school. Officers also say they're sure drugs and a large amount of cash was floating around the school. Police say the school alerted them to suspicious behavior observed on surveillance cameras. Officers looked at tapes and watched live surveillance before they decided there was enough cause to enter the campus.
Obviously, not something which should have happened. The people involved should be held responsible, nobody could argue with that. Even the state is investigating the use of force.

Nevertheless, Professor Reynolds writes today that it's an advertisement for vouchers and home schooling:
Sadly, this sort of behavior is far from uncommon in government-run schools. But more and more parents are looking at private schools, vouchers, charter schools, and home schooling as alternatives. To a lot who haven’t made up their minds, I think that Principal McCrackin’s behavior may provide an incentive to move their kids out of public schools that are looking increasingly like prisons, and into more congenial environments.
One has to ask: Where the heck did that come from? It's a bit of a leap of logic to extrapolate that thought from the incident described. It seems to be the type of argument that would be made by someone who starts with the proposition that there is something "wrong" with the concept of a public school serving the community (which is just another way of saying "government-run", isn't it?). If the Professor believes that private schools are immune from the type of drug traffickers who were sought in he school in South Carolina, that's another leap of logic.

One could just as easily point to an extreme example, such as the recent case of adoptive parents starving their children in Collingswood, New Jersey:
In downtown Collingswood yesterday, Mayor Jim Maley said he has had conversations with school district officials making tentative plans to revamp the district's home-schooling policy.
The Jackson's sons were home-schooled, Maley said, which required little contact between the school system and the family.
Given that single incident, what sort of grade would the Professor give a student who declared: " Sadly, this sort of behavior is far from uncommon among the home-schooled. To a lot who haven’t made up their minds, I think that the Jackson’s behavior may provide an incentive to move their kids out of home-schools that are looking increasingly like prisons, and into more congenial environments." That's a ridiculous argument. But, it is the exact same type of argument as the first example.

Maybe it is the case that people with a preconceived notion, will happily spin any incident as providing an example reinforcing their worldview.

Indeed.

(Update on 11/11: The Professor had a follow-up today on this, noting that "there was hardly anyone who was prepared to defend the tactics involved there, though the lessons that people took from the event varied." Maybe other people couldn't figure out how he drew his conclusions, although it doesn't seem that the Professor often revisits his targets in this manner.)

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