Schools are known for their bullies. Every movie with a child protagonist accurately features this fact of life. Some children who attend public school make it their mission in life to torment others. They might shove other children down on the bus, without provocation. They might harass them in the locker room or gang up against them in class and prod them. Yes, I have been on the receiving end of all these things, I remain bitter and angry when I think back on this. But I do not sit around advocating that the government make more rules, I advocate the government stop creating these situations in which these events are possible.
Why do bullies abound in schools? How about these three reasons (not an exhaustive list):
1. Schools are prisons
2. Schools are Godless
3. Schools are bureaucracies
1. Schools are prisons. What would you call in institution in which individuals were forcibly removed from their homes by government then forced into communion with others whom they did not want to associate? These individuals are then striped of their rights, such as the right to free association, free speech, and due process. Not to mention the right to bear arms. This is known as a prison. Without rights, students are prohibited from speaking (such as proselytizing), they are forced into rooms with individuals that no sane person would freely associate, and they are subject to the summary judgments of principals and teachers. Teacher unions then make it their mission to stop school choice.
As David Henderson puts it: “Teenagers treating other teenagers cruelly is part of growing up when compulsory schooling is part of growing up.” When students have the right to school choice and free association, bullies all but disappear.
If a bully torments or picks on a student and that student lashes out in defense or retaliation, with whom does the school side? I speak from experience. If the victim is lucky, the school will treat them both equally, but usually the aggressor is favored. The reason is, the best I can tell, is that schools are resolute in their official policy of being Godless.
2. Schools are Godless. Schools are officially Godless. They state this fact quite plainly. They teach children that a moral and just God does not rule the world and children are animal byproducts of random chemical happenstance. Teaching children that there is no God is not conducive to civil behavior. This also ties into reason 1 when the Godless educators attempt to double as judges.
3. Schools are bureaucracies. Because schools do not operate with market incentives (as opposed to political incentives) their goals sway towards maximizing tax dollars, prohibiting school exodus, and limiting political exposure. Their rules tend toward bureaucratic nonsense and these rules are only modified when there is a public outrage. See the solider being prohibited from attending his sister’s prom. After public outcry, the policy was immediately amended.
In a free market, businesses tend to focus on profit maximization. Profit in the free market occurs when businesses are run efficiently and the customers are pleased. A public institution does neither. The incentive of a public institution is to be run inefficiently; because people can earn money without producing and still can claim that more funds (and bigger salaries) are needed. If the customer is unpleased, the institution can again claim more funds are needed again. That is why public schools have become black holes for money, although per pupil spending has doubled since the 70s, school achievement has remained flat.
Other bureaucratic anachronisms exist, such as classifying students by age rather than achievement (isn’t the purpose of school to teach, not to babysit?) and giving summers off automatically. These things perpetuate the stagnant environments of school, and force low achieving bullies to remain with their faster learning, brighter peers (not to say all bullies are slow).
So what is the solution to bullies? Privatize the schools. Businesses can hardly please customers when it allows bullies to roam free. In a private market, bullies can be extracted (by institutions that have incentive to do so) and their parents might have to endure financial loss at their children’s reckless behavior. Students would have their rights back and could choose with whom to associate and to what degree they restrain themselves in speech. Atheist or anti-Christians schools would be able to compete with Christian institutions for a customer base (we could see the difference in fundamentalists v. Catholic v. Buddhist v atheist school environments). In a free market, no child would be stripped of rights, parents could choose a Godly education and schools could be run efficiently. One hardly ever encounters bullies at Wal-mart, you have to look to the prisons to find them.