This letter was sent to my high school administrators shortly after I dropped out...
My name is Andy Carloff. I am a dropout from your school. I was also a senior, who only had a few months left before I had my own diploma. Mostly, though, I thought it would be impossible for any of the administration, Mrs. C_____ (Principal), Dr. C____ (Assistant Principal), or Mr. N_____ (Assistant Principal) to understand. Why some kid with a bright future would throw it away seems to be something beyond the comprehension of anyone, and probably those who run the school in particular. I decided, however, that to at least attempt an explanation would be far more fair than just disappearing.
The mundane subjects of math, science, English, and history did not educate me. The assignments existed as an obstacle between myself and education. The freedom to learn is most barbarically ripped from us. It seems that teachers don't care any more, and they are not here to educate, but disempower. They do not teach, they desensitize. The zealous lust for learning, to understand, to know the substance of life and our Universe -- the desire to know our heroes, to understand molecules and atoms, to learn about the greatest adventures -- every desire to learn and know is relinquished and under the behemoth's foot. Days pass and it becomes more and more clear that it is not a place of learning, certainly not, but it is not only a center of intellectual suicide, but one of oppression and cruelty.
We are taught not to oppose or disobey. So when the day comes that active duty is needed in the face of tyranny, we will freeze up, just zombies of our former vibrant selves. We cannot speak without raising our hand, we may not teach others, we may not leave class, and the fact that all of this is compulsory will sicken the heart of any humane person. Slowly, a net overcomes the students, and it soon becomes understood that there is no way to be an individual, there is no way to express yourself. A high school becomes a cesspool, where ignorance breeds and spreads, conformity exists, and the way to truth and justice forever remain blocked by this understanding that people have no power. To the students, we have this confirmed again and again, not given liberty, not living with education. You structure the school after a dictatorship, and if you expect to yield anything other than sheep, you are deeply confused in your thinking. It is here you expect the impossible: for a real education to blossom, and for students to learn. The injustice of coercion coupled with the blossoming hate of education, the more one learns the more one detects public, compulsory, formal education.
But I would stay, too, if I knew that I learned something. If I knew I was stronger, because of my experiences there. If I knew I was happier, because of high school. If I knew that I was a better person, full of vitality and reverence -- if the teachers had given me knowledge instead of work deterring me, if there was more freedom to do as I wish, if the school building was welcoming to open minds and individuals -- if school had taught me something, I would stay. But with this school existing as an oppressive regime, I could not survive in this environment. My reason for dropping out is the same as the reason for every just, humane decision I've made: it was because of my happiness, my education, and my sense of justice and humanity.
Student of life's lessons,