Saturday, February 16, 2008

Too clever by half

I've always been in favor of compulsory education financed by general taxation. I know, what a doofus. I'm cool with choice and vouchers and all that, but I always thought that the education revolution in the USA was an example of a very good thing that was facilitated, speeded up, or at least not completely screwed up by government.

But now I think the end is near, at least in France:

President Nicolas Sarkozy dropped an intellectual bombshell this week, surprising the nation and touching off waves of protest with his revision of the school curriculum: beginning next fall, he said, every fifth grader will have to learn the life story of one of the 11,000 French children killed by the Nazis in the Holocaust.

The article goes on to quote people saying it will be too traumatic for the kids and contains a big discussion of Sarkozy's religiousity, but to me that misses the point, which is:

How in the world can one guy unilaterally impose something like this for every family in France?

The article doesn't say he is asking for a public debate or endorsing pending legislation (though that wouldn't really make me any happier on Mungowitzian grounds).

Overall, the scope of what government through the school system has taken on has enlarged so much, and opportunities for arbitrary, freedom stealing, pernicious impositions have become so large, that I am not even sure if I still support the entire enterprise (and yes, I know that I teach at a state university).

As for Sarkozy, wow. It seems to me that he is well on his way down the Saparmurat Niyazov highway.