Why Johnny Can't...|
1997 September 19|
School kids should enjoy rapidly expanding rights of self-governance as they grow up. This applies not only to the school as a whole but to each individual child.
Given that kids in the US have reasonably good hopes of living in a democratic republic (even if it isn't functioning very well right now), it makes sense to teach them just how this mystery of cooperation and enlightened self-interest we call "government" can help most people to get what they want without hurting other people too much.
Student governments have almost always been a sham. No important issue is ever allowed to be decided by the students. Society needs to have the guts to let kids make some important decisions for themselves. This is a prickly issue but there are precedents for accomplishing it without too many wounds among the teachers and administrators. (See A.S. Neill, Summerhill and Freedom, Not License.)
Be prepared for the mistakes. There is no learning without error. In school the scope for error is at least somewhat limited.