The Ten Commandments in School

To end violence in schools, politicians say that square-peg students must somehow be hammered into the round-holed public education system. All we need are more mallets.One of the mallets is a bill that would allow government schools to display The Ten Commandments. Aside from constitutional worries and logistic concerns of where to display the commandments (Over the urinals? Next to the Pepsi ads? Flashing on the football scoreboard?), there’s the problem that students aren’t angering Moses as much as the government schools are. We should consider how the commandments would apply to schools themselves.

I: “I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” This God would not appreciate the student enslavement caused by compulsory attendance laws. To follow this commandment, schools would grade students based on their devotion to God rather than academics or sports skills. Instead, standardized test results, class rankings and football scores are the gods of public education.

II: “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven images… Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them.” Schools make kids worship the American flag through the pledge of allegiance and show their loyalty to the school by idolizing an image of the mascot. Schools would have to ditch their images of America’s founding fathers, school founders and American presidents.

III: “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.” If God’s name should only be invoked for religious reasons, any classroom discussion of non-biblical literature involving God would break this commandment, as would angry teachers telling students to “shut the hell up for God’s sake!”

IV: “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.” Students can’t spend their entire Sunday worshipping God when they have a paper on Friedrich Nietzsche due Monday morning. Schools obeying this commandment could not assign homework on the weekends.

V: “Honor thy father and thy mother.” The existence of government schooling hinges on the notion that parents are not honorable enough to educate their own kids. Children are abducted from their supposedly incompetent parents and are taught to trust school over the “interfering” people who spawned them.

VI: “Thou shalt not kill.” Schools are deathtraps. Unhealthy food, dangerous sports and fungi contaminated air are irrelevant compared to an environment conducive to shootings. Any place where people are held against their will and placed in a position of subservience causes resentment. Considering that the violence-prone have an instinctual excuse to rage against the machine, schools make matters worse by banning the general student populace from having any means of self-defense.

VII: “Thou shalt not commit adultery.” The schools that freely hand out condoms and the teachers who cheat on their spouses to sleep with their students must have forgotten this one.

IIX: “Thou shalt not steal.” Public schools could not exist without theft. Taxes robbed from people who may not even have kids, overpriced merchandise justified as fundraising and money from selling items confiscated from students all keep schools open. Embezzling tax payer money for things like office furniture is not unheard of from school administrators.

IX: “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.” The National Education Association (NEA) has unfairly disparaged charter schools, vouchers, home schooling and anything else that threatens its monopoly on young minds. AISD leaders accused of defrauding TAAS scores to beat other schools should consider this one.

X: “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s house.” If schools didn’t envy the estate of others, the Robin Hood plan, which took money from rich schools and gave it to poor schools, would never have occurred. Schools would not request certain amenities just because other schools have them and teacher unions would not demand pay raises based on the salaries of teachers in other states.

Posting the ten Commandments in school might be interesting if school leaders don’t arrogantly assume they are exempt. If this proves successful, hopefully legislators will force schools officials to start observing the Bill of Rights.

Rhys J. Southan is a radio-television-film sophomore at the University of Texas

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