Two potentially catastrophic incidents involving firearms have happened in as many weeks at South Philadelphia High School where I teach. In a letter I published in The Philadelphia Inquirer on April 13, 2011, I argued for a formidable police presence in city schools. The actions of the police though commendable, belie the much more pressing and protracted problem of why they are needed. Too many children cannot be trusted to use their freedom responsibly. Climate and safety have been bushwhacked by a veritable chamber of horrors whose emblematic ghouls are morally relativistic operating philosophies where even the smallest of rules are not enforced 100%. This gives rise for the potential of capital crime.

Call me old fashioned but I don’t like working in places where life is mocked and made into a perilous contact sport by cadres of children who glorify violence and death as societal goods, where the lesson of the day it seems is “kill”. We deserve far better than having to teach in places rife with such chaos. The problem is simple. The ubiquity of malevolence has run education off the tracks and well nigh ruined it. Conceptually, so is the solution. Bind the children's entitlements against both their attendance and behavior.

Much of the reportage in the liberal press is strikingly silent about the primacy of citizenship in education. The supremacies of punctuality, preparation, attire and attitude cannot now be gainsaid. Regrettably, parents and principals entitle and cheerlead for children who misbehave under a philosophy of a child-centered centrality.

This need not be so. Whereas Copernicus obviated the geocentric cosmography of Ptolemy in De Revolutionibus Orbium Coelestium 1543, so must teachers metaphorically in 2013. The earth occupies no more of a special place in the cosmos any more than the children do in the schools. The law not the child is our schoolmaster. Independence and prudence are our heritage not the prodigalities of entitlement and accommodation. These are harbingers of chaos. As Ptolemy became the byword for error in physical law, the philosophy underlying education reform has in social law. The Age of Error must end.