There has been a lot of metaphorical ink spilled, much of it negative, about student protests of commencement addresses. POLITICO has an interesting piece up about students with views antagonistic to the invited speaker’s are increasingly voicing themselves and their opposition, sometimes fervent.
“Students across the country are protesting commencement speakers of all political varieties. Rutgers students balked at Condoleezza Rice and her ties to the Iraq War. Smith College kids and professors threatened to jeer IMF director Christine Lagarde’s monetary policies. And Robert Birgeneau faced protests at Haverford College over an incident involving campus police and batons. All the high-profile speakers are taking a pass.”
While some commentators believe that this is a symbol of growing intolerance on America’s campuses (a very real concern given the rise of tiny “free speech zones” and bureaucratic retaliation against faculty and staff who don’t tow the line on certain political/economic issues), I do not share this concern when it comes to commencement speakers.
After all, no speaker has the “right” to speak and receive an honorary degree free from criticism. And students, who have a range of views, do have the right to voice opposition to certain divisive figures who will monopolize the symbolism of four years of hard work, making it prohibitively harder and more expensive for family and friends to attend the event.
Fortunately, rapidly innovating technology platforms like Twitter and YouTube are able to provide student protesters new sources of voice via sites like Change.org and Kickstarter.
This is all for the good. The solution to bad speech is more speech. With any hope, technology + decentralization will help to make university campuses a bastion of free thought and free speech once again.
In a victory for homeschooling and educational freedom, the Department of Homeland Security today, reacting from yesterday’s Supreme Court’s denial to hear their case, has granted asylum to the Romeike family, a German family that fled persecution from a Nazi-era compulsory school law that bans homeschooling.
This dramatic decision reverses the U.S. Supreme Court’s refusal to hear the family’s plea for asylum, granting the family “indefinite preferred status,” meaning that they can stay in the US permanently.
The decision comes at a time when the German school system’s rigid ban on homeschooling has been coming under fire in the international community.
In November of 2012, the first annual holding of the Global Home Education Conference to place in Berlin to affirm the natural human right for parents to educate their children independent of the state. Among the documents cited supporting this right was Article 26, Section 3 of the 1948 UN Declaration of Human Rights, which says that “parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.”
Unfortunately, however, the same article also declares that education shall education, in at least the “elementary and fundamental states” (whatever that means), must be “free” and “compulsory.”
The EG West Centre’s Pauline Dixon gives an excellent TED Talk on the myth that poor people need or desire government schooling over private education alternatives. (You can also listen to an interview Ms. Dixon gave with talkshow host Tom Woods here).
The idea that somehow without coercive, tax-financed government schooling run by self-serving politicians and their special interest cronies, the poor would be condemned to life of misery and ignorance is a complete lie that has absolutely no bearing in history.
Even in the world’s poorest developing nations, most impoverished parents opt to send their kids to for-profit, low-cost private schools (whether or not the State legally recognizes the institution), even when there is a “free” government school nearby. Why? Because since the parents are purchasing the education directly and the private schools’ revenue is 100% dependent on parental and student satisfaction, they must give high quality work relative to the parents’ other options or they’ll find themselves out of business.
Contrast this with the government schools, whose teachers are incompetent, lazy, corrupt, or in some cases outright criminals, which have the luxury of tax-financing and compulsory attendance (a kind of serfdom).