Death by Ignorance

When the education system and military fail, what will you do?

The Associated Press recently reported:

Nearly one-fourth [23%] of the students who try to join the U.S. Army fail its entrance exam, painting a grim picture of an education system that produces graduates who can't answer basic math, science and reading questions, according to a new study released Tuesday.

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan said:

Too many of our high school students are not graduating ready to begin college or a career — and many are not eligible to serve in our armed forces. I am deeply troubled by the national security burden created by America’s underperforming education system.

Two major federal government agencies admit that:

  • Our children are not receiving a quality education;
  • Our military is at risk of failing to provide for our defense.
  • Government threatens our national security through its inability to provide services paid for by our taxes.

Some folks persist with the myth that government will fix itself, but the Supreme Court defines another reality.

DeShaney v. Winnebago County Department of Social Services

A young boy experienced “a series of beatings by his father,” and filed multiple complaints with county social services. They repeatedly left the boy with his father, who “finally beat him so severely that he suffered permanent brain damage, and was rendered profoundly retarded,” resulting in a law suit against the county. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled:

  • “A State's failure to protect an individual against private violence … imposes no duty on the State to provide members of the general public with adequate protective services.”
  • “There is no merit to petitioner's contention that the State's knowledge of his danger and expressions of willingness to protect him against that danger established a 'special relationship' giving rise to an affirmative constitutional duty to protect.”

Town of Castle Rock, Colorado v. Gonzales

A mother of three young children obtained a restraining order against her violent estranged husband. He kidnapped and murdered the children, after which she sued the police department. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled:

  • Police services are a government “benefit” that is not legally obligated to protect victims.
  • Restraining orders create no special relationship with police entitling victims to protection.

In addition, the Supreme Court is yet another government entity that has declared that they have no legal requirement to function in your best interest.

The Department of Education (DOE) spends over $160B of our tax dollars: $63.7B in discretionary appropriations plus $96.8B in “bailout” money. There are additional billions spent by states, and billions more in property taxes for local school districts. (For example, the Texas Education Agency spent about $26B in 2009.)

The AP article reported that 25% of high school graduates are obese, making them ineligible for military service. This affords an opportunity to highlight one of the most successful functions of government: the opportunity to exploit crises in order to expand.

Some of the blame for child obesity rests with the public school system. For years, the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) has been remonstrating about unhealthy foods in school vending machines. Poor eating leads to obesity, which, according to the National Institutes of Health, causes illnesses like type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, certain cancers, and osteoarthritis. (Here’s another federal bureaucracy pointing out the public education system’s general failure to help our children.)

Sixth time’s the charm?

For two years, the Obama administration “voiced their support for healthier school food,” but they and the Democratic-controlled Congress didn’t accomplish anything until the last minute. In March 2009, CSPI announced that Democrats were taking action to improve children’s nutrition in public schools: California Representative Lynn Woolsey’s new bill -- H.R. 1324, the Child Nutrition Promotion and School Lunch Protection Act of 2009 -- “would get junk foods out of schools once and for all.” It died in subcommittee.*