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The Final Nail in the Coffin: The Death of Freedom in Our Schools

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Young Alex Stone didn't even make it past the first week of school before he became a victim of the police state. Directed by his teacher to do a creative writing assignment involving a series of fictional Facebook statuses, the 16-year-old wrote, "I killed my neighbor's pet dinosaur. I bought the gun to take care of the business."

What followed is par for the course in schools today: students were locked down in their classrooms while armed police searched Stone's locker and bookbag, handcuffed him, charged him with disorderly conduct, arrested him, detained him, and then he was suspended from school. No weapons or dead dinosaurs were found.

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Keshana Wilson, a 14-year-old student at a Pennsylvania high school, was tasered in the groin by a police officer working as a school resource officer, allegedly because she resisted arrest for cursing, inciting a crowd of students, and walking on the highway. "The teenager had to be taken to hospital to have the taser probes removed before she was arrested and charged with aggravated assault on the officer, simple assault, riot, resisting arrest, disorderly conduct, failure to disperse and walking on the highway," noted one reporter.

Rounding out the lesson in compliance, police officers who patrol schools in Compton, Calif., are now authorized to buy semi-automatic AR-15 rifles and carry them in their patrol car trunks while on duty. A few states away, in Missouri, a new state law actually requires that all school districts participate in live-action school shooting drills, including realistic gunfire, students covered in fake blood, and bodies strewn throughout the hallways.

Now these incidents may seem light years away from the all-too-grim reality of the events that took place in Ferguson, Missouri, but they are, in fact, mere stops along the way to the American police state. As such, parents with kids returning to school would do well to consider these incidents fair warning, because today's public schools have become microcosms of the world beyond the schoolhouse gates, and increasingly, it's a world hostile to freedom.

Indeed, as I show in my book A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State, within America's public schools can be found almost every aspect of the American police state that plagues those of us on the "outside": metal detectors, surveillance cameras, militarized police, drug-sniffing dogs, tasers, cyber-surveillance, random searches, senseless arrests, jail time, the list goes on.

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Whether it takes the form of draconian zero tolerance policies, overreaching anti-bullying statutes, police officers charged with tasering and arresting so-called unruly children, standardized testing with its emphasis on rote answers, political correctness, or the extensive surveillance systems cropping up in schools all over the country, young people in America are first in line to be indoctrinated into compliant citizens of the new American police state.

Zero tolerance policies, which punish all offenses severely, no matter how minor, condition young people to steer clear of doing anything that might be considered out of line, whether it's pointing their fingers like a gun, drawing on their desks, or chewing their gum too loudly.

Surveillance technologies, used by school officials, police, NSA agents, and corporate entities to track the everyday activities of students, accustom young people to life in an electronic concentration camp, with all of their movements monitored, their interactions assessed, and their activities recorded and archived.

Metal detectors at school entrances and armed police patrolling high school, middle school and sometimes even elementary school hallways acclimatize young people to being viewed as suspects. The presence of these police officers in the schools also results in greater numbers of students being arrested or charged with crimes for nonviolent, childish behavior. All too often, these incidents remain on students' permanent records, impacting college and job applications.

Weapons of compliance, such as tasers which deliver electrical shocks lethal enough to kill, not only teach young people to fear the police, the face of our militarized government, but teach them that torture is an accepted means of controlling the population. One high school student in Texas suffered severe brain damage and nearly died after being tasered. A 15-year-old disabled North Carolina student was tasered three times, resulting in punctured lungs. A New York student was similarly tasered for lying on the floor and crying.

Standardized testing and Common Core programs, which discourage students from thinking for themselves while rewarding them for regurgitating whatever the government dictates they should be taught, will not only create a generation of test-takers capable of little else but will also constitute massive data collection on virtually every aspect of our children's lives which will be accessed by government agents and their corporate allies.

Overt censorship, monitoring and political correctness, which manifest themselves in a variety of ways, from Internet filters on school computers to sexual harassment policies, habituate young people to a world in which nonconformist, divergent, politically incorrect ideas and speech are treated as unacceptable or dangerous. In such an environment, a 9-year-old boy remarking that his teacher is "cute" can be suspended for sexual harassment, and those accused of engaging in frowned upon behavior on social media will have their posts and comments analyzed by a government agent.

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As problematic as all of these programs are, however, what's really unnerving are the similarities between the American system of public education and that of totalitarian regimes such as Nazi Germany, with their overt campaigns of educational indoctrination. And while those who run America's schools may not be deliberately attempting to raise up a generation of Hitler Youth, they are teaching young people to march in lockstep with the all-powerful government--which may be just as dangerous in the end.

In the face of such a mechanized, bureaucratic school system that demands conformity, while punishing anyone who dares step out of line, American school children are indeed powerless. And they will remain helpless, powerless and in bondage to the police state unless "we the people" set them free.

 

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John W. Whitehead is an attorney and author who has written, debated and practiced widely in the area of constitutional law and human rights. Whitehead's aggressive, pioneering approach to civil liberties has earned him numerous accolades and (more...)
 

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