The 3 "R"s of education become 4
By David Correa, POW, and Nora Callahan, Director of The November Coalition
In our nation's schools, children are being rewarded for informing on their classmates. Add "Ratting" to "Reading, wRiting and aRithmetic.
In Portsmouth High in New Hampshire their "crime-fighting" program includes a : "Report wrongdoing, win valuable prizes!" program. The school board approved it last June, but the town has been debating the morality of using cash to coax kids to "rat." Cash awards can range from $10 - $100 and a student liaison will be responsible for fielding anonymous tips.
Shocked? Similar programs have been instituted in Fresno, California, Boulder, Colorado, Amarillo, Texas and Baton Rouge, Louisiana to name but a few.
In Charlotte, North Carolina they expanded their program to all their high schools and now include their middle schools. That is 53 schools in one school district.
Thousand of posters adorn walls and corridors: A logo bears a pair of eyes with paranoia-inducing phrase that tells the children, "Who's Watching?" A hotline phone number is easily readable.
In Little Rock, Arkansas they spur children into the ranks of snitch by offering T-shirts, gift certificates, pizzas, autographed baseballs and other prizes. There are plans to move these incentive programs to lower grades. Mary Parker, a criminologist says of the program, ". . .desperate times call for drastic measures." She goes on to explain, "It's not a system of snitching or ratting, per se, it's just the citizens of that community policing that community. Does it work? People are caught. I would suggest that, yes, there is some benefit."
There is no evidence that it cuts down the incidence of crime, but there is plenty of evidence that it creates fear and mistrust. Today, many citizens of all ages believe that being a "good" citizen requires one to be an informant citizen.
In the Old Testament book of Daniel, an informant is called "Akbal Kurtza" which when translated literally means "One who eats the flesh of another." If you ask an observant Jew how they feel about "snitching," he will tell you that part of his daily prayers request that "for the informer may there be no hope."
Ask the question of a Christian and they will say, "A Judas? Why a betrayer traded the life of Jesus for 30 pieces of silver."
The lessons of history are not being heeded. Only oppressive, tyrannical regimes maintain themselves by utilizing informants. The McCarthy era has raised its ugly head once again and how is it that we are allowing our children to be taught that there is any value in betrayal. How many innocent children will caught in such a scheme? How will those falsely accused perceive the world after such an episode? Thirty pieces of silver is now two tickets to the Saturday matinee or a crisp $100 dollar bill. Our founding father's would turn in their graves.