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Why Do Mass Murderers, the Taliban, Boko Haram, and Union-Busters Target Schools?

The New York Times, October 3. 2015


Yes, for terrorists and other murderers, schools like Umpqua Community College in Oregon are an obvious target, a place where lots of people can usually be found together — and in particular, vulnerable young people. More particularly, girls. For union-busters, teachers’ unions may be an obvious target, because they are one of the few labor groups that actually have some numbers and clout. Small-government budget-cutters also target schools, along with health care, infrastructure, housing, and other social services that they see as frills.Yet there may be another element to this seemingly unrelated targeting: Schools teach students to think, and thus to challenge tradition. So, along with strict gun-control laws, we must fight back against murder — and small-mindedness — by funding education more generously. Teachers’ unions must play a role in this effort. (By the way, establishing many small schools, rather than a few big ones, happens to be a good idea pedagogically and might also deter some gunmen.)


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