Thursday, May 21, 2009

Irrelevancy 101: Bennion Junior High Students In Taylorsville, Utah Present Mayor Russ Wall With Mile-Long Daisy Chain Of Their Good Deeds

Here's another absolutely irrelevant way in which public schools are burning up taxpayer dollars. Students at Bennion Junior High School have been documenting their kind acts on paper since October 2008. They then linked them into huge paper chains. Finally, they linked the resultant 42,000 paper chains together and presented them to Taylorsville Mayor Russ Wall on May 21st, 2009. KSL news video embedded below:

Video Courtesy of KSL.com



This action was performed under the auspices of Rachel's Challenge, a program named for the first victim of the Columbine shootings. The program encourages students to involve themselves with acts of kindness and compassion. And Debbie Feldman, PTSA president at Bennion Junior High, was reportedly giddy with excitement. "One of the things that's really excited me is that the students understand that they, even at their age, can make a difference even with just one small act of kindness," said Feldman.

Here's a few questions that popped into my head after I read this story. First, how many trees died to make this project possible? Second, how does this feelgood project actually educate our kids? How much recess or P.E. did they give up to accomplish this? Third, just what is the mayor supposed to do with this monstrosity? I suppose he could take it home and use it as fire-starter for his barbecue grill. What an incredible waste of time, effort, and resources.

But I don't blame the kids. It is a commendable display of concern and teamwork on their part. However, it is misguided, and I take issue with the adults who encouraged them to express their concern in such a frivolous and useless way. Unfortunately, such nonsense is more widespread than we realize; a similar project, called the Paper Clips project, took place in 1998. The students of Whitwell Middle School in Tennessee assembled a daisy chain of 6,000,000 paper clips, one for each Jewish person who died in the Holocaust. Note that the students were not encouraged to also commemorate the non-Jewish victims of the Holocaust. And what purpose did that serve? Other than get them a pat on the head and some "scooby snacks" from the Anti-Defamation League, absolutely none.

Note that these type of projects tend to occur in public schools; rarely do private schools engage in this type of behavior. That's because private schools don't have taxation power; they must make a profit to stay in business. And since parents of private school children pay directly for that education, in addition to the taxes they pay for a public school system they don't use, you can bet those parents take a lively interest in how the private school teaches their kids, and are willing to hold them accountable every step of the way.

This type of accountability does not exist to the same degree in the public school system. Thus the public school system, dominated by the teachers' unions and special interests, spend time politicizing our kids as well as educating them. Since the public schools are not required to make a profit, they have no incentive to maximize education. Another example of spending public money for the politicization of education has been documented by CNSNews.

It's time for our public schools to quit politicizing our kids and get back to educating them.

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