I graduated high school in 1999, which was not very long ago, and yet policies in the public school system have changed radically since I earned my diploma. I have several relatives who are still in junior high and high school, and through the stories they tell and the news in the paper, I have concluded that life in public schools has taken a turn for the proverbial worst.
During my generation, which, again, was not too long ago, the youth of America had a voice. Even through the latter part of Junior High, we were passionate about social and political issues and we possessed a thirst for knowledge rivaled only in the subsequent college years. There were exceptions, of course, the stereotypical characters who cared more about image and money than about the world around them – kids like that will forever grace our planet – but the majority of us cared enough to stay frequent with the news and to argue with one another over current issues and events. We joined the debate team, we ran for student council, and we attacked out assignments with fervor. That is not to say that we were perfect students – quite the opposite, actually – but we were given the opportunity to express ourselves, and we took advantage of that ability whenever we had the chance.
Lately, however, youth seem to be drifting farther and farther away from what I consider to be the epitome of effective high school experiences, and into an age when they are suspected of drug use, nymphomania, and alcoholism. Many are placed on mind-altering drugs to counter their supposed social disorders and are treated like toddlers by parents and school officials alike. It is not just a sad state of affairs. It is devastating.
I acknowledge that afflictions such as ADHD and Depression are vital threats to the mental and social stability of adolescences and adults alike. There are some people – a precious few – who require the chemical balancing of certain prescriptions to help them deal with those afflictions, and that in some cases, intense therapy is necessary to assist the student through his or her days at school. However, I do not believe that a radical 32% of high school students require medication for ADD or depression. It just isn’t possible.
Combine the rise of medicated students with the paranoia of drug abuse, and public schools really don’t stand a chance. Students are tested for narcotics before they are allowed to participate in school activities, and even if their parents protest these drug tests, the students cannot escape them. Parents no longer have the authority to dictate what their children do in schools, which is ridiculous. Parents should have the final “say-so” in their children’s high school careers, regardless of the circumstance, and the school should not have the abilty to override that authority.
A recent case in Palmdale, California consisted of a school disctrict surveying elementary age children about sex. The parents were given a consent form to sign, but the form mentioned nothing about questions related to sex. Students in the first, third, and fifth grade were given this survey, and among other things, it asked how often the student thought about sex, and how many times per week the student masturbated. The case was thrown out two weeks ago by a federal appeals court on the basis that “no such specific right can be found in the deep roots of the nation’s history and tradition or implied in the concept of ordered liberty.”
Why is this? you might ask. The answer is very simple: Children have no rights, and apparently, neither do their parents.
If my child were to come home from school and ask me about the questions on that survey, I would have been outraged, as were the parents of Palmdale students. The public school system has taken on an unprecedented authority in this technological age, if we do nothing to stop it, parents were eventually be forced to relinquish total control. The youth of today aren’t allowed to speak their minds about issues and social injustices, but they are the tragic victims of such.