At Cedar Hills Elementary School, Duval County, Florida, a teacher recently dictated this sentence to her fourth-grade class, had them all write it down: “I am willing to give up some of my constitutional rights in order to be safer or more secure.”
Not Lord Dunsany, not Tolkien, not C.S. Lewis, not even Fritz Leiber or Harry Turtledove, in their wildest flights of imagination, ever came up with anything so fantastic as the notion that public education is a worthwhile enterprise. Maybe Poe or H.P. Lovecraft could have generated dark fantasies to rival the reality of public schooling–but what could be more terrifying than to understand that we have sacrificed whole generations of our children to this idol?
Do these 10-year-olds in Cedar Hills even understand what a “constitutional right” is? Yeah, sure. Do they understand that, in the words of the Declaration of Independence, they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights? ROFL! Declaration of what? What does “inalienable” mean? Do we get our rights from space aliens in UFOs? Oh, what does it matter, as long as our glorious rulers make us safer?
I’m a fantasy writer. It’s my job to make up weird things. But I’ve never made up anything as weird, as creepy, as counter-functional, or as insulting to basic intelligence as public education.