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With No Obligation to Educate, Schools Turn to Thought Control

Opinion Editorial
May 16, 2000

By  Linda Gorman

In case you were ever in doubt, the Colorado Court of Appeals has just made it official. Colorado public schools have no legally enforceable obligation to educate children. According to the court, parents and students cannot sue school districts because they “are not private students enrolled in a private vocational school but, instead, consist of the general public. They have not individually bargained with the school district, nor individually paid for specific educational services. As a result, they cannot assert legal claims for the alleged failure to provide those unbargained-for services.” [1]

The Court found that “the contention that the quality of education provided by the school district is inadequateis not a matter to be properly resolved by the courts.” Had various courts not already found legal excuses for taking control of almost every other aspect of school operations, its restraint would be refreshing.

In other words, the state may require that children attend school and that everyone pay school taxes. In return, citizens get to vote for one of the slates of school board candidates offered by the teachers union.

Though government entities are free to compel people to pay for lousy services over which they have little control, private entities are not. Private vocational schools failing to offer promised classes or hours of instruction can be sued.

Having mastered the art of pretending to educate those required to attend it and having been freed of any responsibility to do otherwise, the Denver Public School System (DPS) is apparently planning to expand into pretending to provide mental, medical, and behavioral health services. To this end, the Center for Human Investment Policy at the University of Colorado Denver was “asked to develop a health/behavioral health needs assessment survey to gather broader input” to determine if “principals, nurses, psychologists, social workers, teachers and parents are in agreement about these issues.”[2]

Judging from the loaded questions, DPS officials want the power to pass judgment on the physical, mental, emotional, and social health of individual children and to treat those problems as they see fit.

“What level of health and behavioral health care do you believe your school should provide?” asks question number 7. In addition to “Dont know,” one may pick Basic Care, which includes referral for assessment and treatment, Intermediate Care, which adds counseling and care for chronic health problems, or Full Care which includes treatment for general medical and mental health problems and referral to specialists. There is no space for telling DPS elites to stay out of health care delivery until they have mastered the art of delivering reading, writing, and arithmetic.

Note also that mental health and behavioral problems are lumped with medical ones despite the fact that medicine has a scientific basis and most mental and behavioral “health” assessments consist of little more than someones opinion. The potential for abuse, for drugging the rebels and brainwashing those who disagree, is huge and already beginning to be realized.

According to Jon E. Dougherty writing in WorldNetDaily, Derek Loutzenheiser, a 12-year-old student with an exemplary record in Holland, Michigan, was labeled a potential violence risk when he suggested, in a Social Studies class discussion, that one way to prevent school shootings would be to arm instructors. School officials told his parents that they would not have to involve Social Services if Derek was separated from other students and forced to enter the schools “Mentor” program so that an adult supervisor could monitor his thought processes. [3] Recall that Social Service bureaucrats have the power to declare parents guilty of child abuse until proven innocent, and to take their child from them until parents prove their innocence.

School officials noted that Derek had violated the schools policy of non-violence by fighting back when attacked by three older students and had often spoken favorably about the First and Second Amendments. His parents noted that Derek had refused to sign a “Red Letter” vow of peace written by the principal that asked students to take a oath to turn in their friends for suspicious activity and to never defend themselves if attacked.

In short, Derek had refused to parrot the party line and was judged behaviorally unhealthy. The Soviets pioneered this model by declaring those who disagreed with the government mentally aberrant and imprisoning them in mental institutions until their thinking could be adjusted by psychological conditioning or drugs. As DPS puts it, “schools are where one finds children, so it [sic] is the best place to offer health/behavioral health services,” “children need good health to learn, so health/behavioral health is a valid school concern, and “children with health/behavioral health challenges need medical attention in schools to reach their potential.”[4]

DPS has a point. Judging from his behavior, Derek has already assimilated the independence and respect for truth characteristic of outstanding Americans. Without medical attention, he never will realize his full potential as a good little citizen in the new world order.


[1] Denver Parents Association et al. v. Denver Board of Education; 98CA1309, Colorado Court of Appeals. February 3, 2000. As posted on the Colorado Bar Associations web site, , on 10 May 2000.

[2] Denver Public School Health and Behavioral Health Needs Assessment Survey. 1 May 2000. The Center for Human Investment Policy, University of Colorado, Denver.

[3] Jon E. Dougherty. 30 March 2000. “Sixth grader targeted for pro-gun remarks, A student defends 2nd Amendment, flagged as violence risk.” WorldNetDaily, http://www.worldnetdaily.com/bluesky_dougherty/200000330_xnjdo_sixth_grad.shtml as posted on the web on 9 May 2000.

[4] Denver Public School Health and Behavioral Health Needs Assessment Survey. 1 May 2000. The Center for Human Investment Policy, University of Colorado, Denver. Questions 15 [2], 15 [4], and 15

[5] all of which required an agree or disagree answer. Note that agreeing that schools should be concerned about health does not imply that they should deliver it.

Linda Gorman is a Senior Fellow with the Independence Institute, a free-market think tank in Golden, Colorado, https://i2i.org. This article originally appeared in the Colorado Daily (Boulder), for which Linda Gorman is a regular columnist.

This article, from the Independence Institute staff, fellows and research network, is offered for your use at no charge. Independence Feature Syndicate articles are published for educational purposes only, and the authors speak for themselves. Nothing written here is to be construed as necessarily representing the views of the Independence Institute or as an attempt to influence any election or legislative action.
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