1 Mich. L. & Pol'y Rev. 325 (1996)
Educating the Urban Poor: The (Only) Legitimate Function of the Public Schools

handle is hein.journals/mlpr1 and id is 331 raw text is: EDUCATING THE URBAN POOR: THE
(ONLY) LEGITIMATE FUNCTION OF
THE PUBLIC SCHOOLS
Irving Kristol, Third Panelist*
Let me say to begin with that I am not a lawyer. This is not by way
of apology, but by way of explanation that I will not discuss the legal
issues about which I am blissfully ignorant because I do not think they
are important at all. I want to discuss the educational issues, something
I think I know about and which, for some reason, all of the people
involved - I am exaggerating but certainly all the people who are
deeply involved - in fighting for student rights seem to have forgotten.
After all, the function of a school is to educate. Therefore, what you
should want to know is what is the impact on education of the students'
rights movement? As I would put it in a nonbelligerent way, why are
there so many lawyers and judges out there helping to wreck our educa-
tional system in the name of students' rights?
I find this a great puzzle. I do not know what they want. I am not
aware that they have any educational theory for what they are doing; at
least I have never found any. What kind of school is their ideal school?
Surely in this big world, not only the United States but Britain, France,
Germany, Sweden, Finland, Norway, there must be a school you can
point to where the American Civil Liberties Union can say, That is the
kind of school we want. But I have never heard of any such example
being offered to me. So I do not know what they are after. I do not
know what their ideal school is. I do not know what the educational
theory is that is congruent with their emphasis on students' rights, and I
do not understand why they are doing it.
I have to tell you exactly how reactionary I am. I am shocked to
discover that the Federalist Society seems to have said somewhere that
the State exists to preserve freedom. The Federalist Society should call
a meeting immediately and change that. The State exists for many
reasons other than to preserve freedom. You say that, and you get
yourself in the kind of trap that Ms. Strossen has now sprung.
There are many things I am not going to talk about aside from
students' rights. I am not going to talk about educating the urban poor,
* John M. Olin Distinguished Fellow, American Enterprise Institute; Co-editor, The
Public Interest.

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