Privacy Denied: Students May Bring Only Clear Backpacks to School

KERA radio in Dallas, Texas aired a news report this week relating that the Ennis school district in North Texas, starting in the fall semester, will allow students at district schools from prekindergarten through high school to bring only “clear, PVC backpacks to school.” The school district also is implementing right away mandatory backpack searches on middle and high school students. Plus, police dogs will be on campuses more often.

Making a typical excuse for the new anti-privacy school district policies, Ennis Police Chief John Erisman said in a report on the Dallas NBC television station that “anything that’s gonna keep our kids safe, our students safe — if we have to deal with a mild inconvenience in order for our kids to be safer, I am all for that.”

In announcing the clear backpack requirement, the school district is following in the footsteps of Broward County school district in Florida that, Dakin Andone reported earlier this month at CNN, imposed on students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School a clear backpacks mandate in the name of enhanced security after a mass murder occurred earlier this year at the school.

These privacy-invading actions are just the beginning. Both school districts are adopting further requirements including that students wear IDs on campuses. Also, KERA reports that the Ennis school district will install security gates at its schools, while the CNN story relates that metal detectors and metal detector wands may be used at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Each morning students can be welcomed to school by being herded through a security checkpoint. Hopefully, there will be a lower level of harassment at the schools than is imposed by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) at airports and elsewhere.

There would be plenty of reason for students and parents to object to the establishing of such policies by a private school as well. Yet, parents and students in such a situation have the alternative, upon hearing of the policy changes, to bolt and move their tuition dollars to another school that better respects students’ privacy. At the Texas and Florida schools, the situation is worse because these are government schools that are paid for with tax dollars extracted via threat of force and are populated with students with the help of truancy laws ultimately enforced by armed government agents.

The situation with government schools’ oppressive policies justified as “security” is grim. And, as Rutherford Institute President John W. Whitehead suggested in a recent editorial, the situation has bad implications for the future in America:

Instead of raising up a generation of freedom fighters—which one would hope would be the objective of the schools—government officials seem determined to churn out newly minted citizens of the American police state who are being taught the hard way what it means to comply, fear and march in lockstep with the government’s dictates.

Here is something students, their parents, and the people whose tax money is extracted to fund government schools can do to resist the dictates and fight for freedom: Tell the government and its schools that it is none of their business what is in students’ backpacks and pockets.

Reprinted with permission from the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity.

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