ic\ecl as a metaphorical neutron bomb,rnwhich will leave college buildings standing,rnwhile annihilating their inhabitairts.rnWith a system of institutional injusticernlike segregation, the degree of bitternessrnthat accompanies its fall is directlyrnproportionate to the effort put into thernlast-ditch defense of a hopeless cause.rnUltimateh, the system can be purged,rnand in much of the South, segregationrnnow seems like a distant nightmare.rnThere was a delicious symbolic momentrnwhen George (“Segregation Forcyer”)rn\4illaee won reelection as goyernor ofrn.’labama A ith heavy black support andrnrcgulari’ appeared at black churches andrnsocial events. The higher educationrnworid can similarly free itself, but it willrntake decades, and the first step is to acknowledgernthe possibility that changernmust come, and come soon.rnPhilip Jenkins is a professor of history andrnreligious studies at Penn State Universityrnand author, most recently, of Pedophilesrnand Priests: Anatomy of a Social Crisis.rnAbolishingrnCompulsory SchoolrnAttendance Lawsrnby Aaron SteelmanrnThe state of Colorado recently didrnsomething revolutionary, at least itrntried to. Last November, RepublicanrnState Representative Russ George introducedrnan amendment to Colorado’srn”Children Code”—a set of laws dealingrnwith child welfare issues, including therneducation of Colorado’s 650,000 studentsrn—that would have abolished thatrnstate’s compulsory school attendancernlaws. A similar proposal was introducedrnin 1976 b Representative Tom Taneredo,rnnow president of the Independencernhistitute, a pro-market public policy organizationrnin Golden, Colorado.rnGeorge—most emphatically not anrnideologue—proposed the amendmentrnfor one simple reason; he simpK believesrnthe compulsory schooling laws are notrndoing what the’ were intended to do. Y-rnstead of bringing s’aluable education tornall, they have, in George’s opinion, aetualh’rnproduced generations of childrenrnw hose education can be descril:)ed asrnmediocre at best. The many studentsrnwho come to school interested in learningrnsuffer from the presence of disruptivernstudents who would rather be anywherernelse than in the classroom, and who,rnwithout the compulsor’ attendancernlaws, would he. Teachers spend toornmuch time dealing with these troubledrnstudents and too little time doing theirrnprimary dutv: dispensing knowledge,rnsas George. Defending his position, hernstated: “The real question we’re askingrnourselves is ‘Where do we focus our attention?’rnDo we focus it on the good kidsrnor on the bad kids? So often the bad kidsrnget a higher degree of attention and dollars.rnVv’e need to ask ourselves, is that arnprice that’s too high to pay? It’s draggingrndown the quality of education forrnso many others. If I have to choose, Irnchoose in favor of the kids who want tornbe in school and who want to learn. Irndon’t know that public schools get anyrnbetter when vou turn them into places ofrndetention.”rnOthers were less narrowly utilitarian inrntheir support of the amendment. Whenrnasked her opinion on the issue, RepublicanrnState Representative Jeanne Adkinsrnasked: “Is it society’s role to force kids tornsta’ in school?” And Tom Taneredornadded: “The dumbest thing we do as arnsociety is to sav we value education andrnthen say we’ll put you in jail if you don’trnaccept it.”rnOf course, many disagreed. ThernDemocratic Senate Minority Leader,rnMike Feeley, said: “We don’t throw awayrnchildren in Colorado, and we think thatrnis exaed}’ what this effort is.” AssistantrnHouse Minorit’ Leader Diana DeGetterncalled George’s idea “a step back into thern18th century.” And Lynn Simons, thernU.S. Education Department’s regionalrnrepresentative, labeled it “a terrible idea,rnan abandonment of children and grossrnsocietal neglect.”rnAs a result of such attacks by fellowrnlegislators, editorials in the Roc^y MountainrnNeil’s and the Denver Post denouncingrnthe idea, and a few Republicans wafflingrnat the last moment, George’srnamendment was killed in the House JudiciaryrnCommittee on February 20.rnState Representative Vicki Agler, one ofrnthe pivotal committee Republicans yhornin the end sided with the state and federalrndepartments of education, stated thatrnshe had voted against it so that the publicrndebate could be refocused “on otherrnimportant parts of the bill.”rnIn retrospect, it is not surprising thatrnGeorge’s amendment failed. Peoplernwho share their federal colleagues’ opinionrnthat balancing the federal budget inrnseven years is unduly rash are unlikely tornrepeal any significant law or statute withrnone stroke of the pen. But why did it pro-rn’oke such bitter outrage by some legislators?rnBecause, if passed, it would haverncut to the heart of their ability to runrntheir constituents’ lives.rnThe entire corrupt system of governmentrnschools is dependent upon therncompulsor- attendance laws; repealrnthese laws, and the government schoolsrnwill wither. Without compulsory attendancernlaws, the state would no longer bernable to define what is and what is not anrn”acceptable” school. Parents who choosernto homeschool their children would nornlonger have to submit “credentials” andrn”progress reports” verifing their abilityrnto instruct their own children, andrnschools that employ unorthodox methodsrn—such as rejecting the egalitarian approachrnemployed by most public schoolsrnthat all children are intellectually equalrnand hence should be educated uniformlyrn—would no longer be terrorized byrnstate accreditors. A myriad of new optionsrnwould be opened to those parentsrnwho had not wanted to send their childrenrnto government schools but who,rndue to governmental regulation, werernforced to. Those schools that truly workrnwould flourish, and those that proved inefficientrn—is there any question as tornwhich category government schoolsrnwould fall into?—would eventually fallrnb’ the wayside. The state’s role in educationrnwould be lessened dramatically, asrnwould the horrid consequence of trustingrnthe education of children to government.rnFrom the inception, governmentrnschools were meant to inculcate certainrn”values” in their pupils. One such valuernwas obedience to the present regime. AsrnMurra’ Rothbard pointed out, “One ofrnthe most enthusiastic supporters of arnpublic and compulsory school systemrnwas the ‘Essex Junto,’ a group of prominentrnFederalist merchants and lawyers inrnBoston hailing originally from EssexrnCounty, Massachusetts. The Essexmenrnwere particularly eager for an extensivernpublic school system so as to have thernyouth ‘taught proper subordination.’rnFor, as Essexman Stephen Higginson, arnleading Boston merchant, put it, ‘thernpeople must be taught to confide in andrnreverence their rulers.'”rnOther values that arc now taught inrnSEPTEMBER 1996/41rnrnrn