Bradley tests school massacre; our commitment to bigness unabated

This “active shooter” is a state school security official with a toy pistol. (Photo

This “active shooter” is a state school security official with a toy pistol, making sure patrons of public schools continue to uphold centralization and bigness in the educational field. (Photo

By David Tulis

The teacher at Bradley County high school expresses her anxiety at taking part in a massacre exercise at her state factory school.

Massacre training is described as learning “new tactics against an active shooter” in a news account that tells of Ocoee, Tenn., middle school teacher Megan Golden. No longer is the duck and cover method good enough, Mrs. Golden says of Alice training, as it’s called. “Though this training we’ve realized it doesn’t work, the carnage and the numbers killed and wounded group with that.”

The drill is pressed ahead by Scotty Hernandez, the safety coordinator for Cleveland city and Bradley county schools. He’s dressed in body armor and wields an Airsoft pistol.

He dashes about, terrorizing all the teachers and students taking part in the drill. One goal is to erect barricades to protect the innocent from the violent. “It’s a little scary. It added a little bit of fear for a little while,” Mrs. Golden says, “but then, I think I’ve been well served by practicing this and learning new things.”

Bizarre acceptance of bigness

Moms and dads accept such scenarios as minor news items because they live in a world in which things must be big to be good, and public schools are gigantic for a purpose: to bring the best public education possible to children in all parts of the state. If they are not big, they’re not public, and no education would take place.

The Bradley County schools have 10,490 inmates in 18 schools and in Hamilton County 42,000 students receive a “world-class education,” according to Supt. Rick Smith. Patrons of the system would never dream of abandoning centralized schooling, even if such gatherings are subject to massacre or have survived a Columbine slaughter.

A massacre, just to remind ourselves, is a show stopper. It is a slaughter of unarmed students by another individual, usually equipped with a firearm and no sense of mercy.

Slaughter of six or a dozen or 20 students in a school do not disabuse patrons of a school of its vitality and necessity. A school may close for a week after innocents are slain. But it will resume, with patrons — filled with emotion and a sense of commitment — return to its tidied halls for classes and the state curriculum. The first day is doleful and defiant, but the patrons will not let a deranged individual deprive them of their rights and the rituals of schooling.

The proposal for my hometown, Chattanooga, and yours is that we reconsider our commitment to big, and consider how, possibly, we will do better in many areas without what often appears a form of insanity.

Smaller may be better

Around the world decentralization is a growing phenomenon. Several writers are helpful in understanding and and promoting the idea. The work of Leopold Kohr (1909-1994) is seminal. He is the author of The Breakdown of Nations and other works that attack “the cult of bigness.” His perspective calls for a dissolution of unitary political and economic structures in favor of local economy and local control. In his first essay, “Disunion now,” in 1941, Kohr said “we have ridiculed the many little states, now we are terrorized by their few successors.” He influenced economist E.F. Schumacher who is author of Small is Beautiful. Another author in the same line is Kirkpatrick Sale, whose book from 1980 is Human Scale.

Sale says economic and social misery increases in direct proportion to the size and power of the central government of a nation or state. One of his favorite proofs is the decentralized political order among German-speaking people,who from about the 12th to the 19th century engaged in fewer wars than any other peoples of Europe. But when the German people were united and formed into a state of 25 million people and 70,000 square miles, “it almost immediately embarked on wars against the other European powers, conquered territories in Africa and the Pacific, and ultimately instigated two devastating world wars within the space of 30 years.”

Bigness is behind the problem of the school massacre. A dechristianization of American culture, a replacement of community by institutions, a loss of identity connected with family and place, a reduction of the individual underneath the state and the corporation, the alienation of affection by social structures such as abortion and factory schools. Bigness plays into the causes of culture and society in Chattanooga.

But because we are confident in bigness and we find it familiar, we continue supporting public schools, which in Hamilton County are the biggest employer. We don’t conceive of private initiative providing educational services, lessons and tutoring in a decentralized framework. We find salvation for our needs in bigness. And we practice being targets of the insane.

— David Tulis hosts a talk show weekdays in Chattanooga from 9 to 11 a.m. on 1240 AM Hot News Talk Radio, covering local economy and free markets in Chattanooga and beyond. Support this site and his radio station on the real airwaves in Chattanooga, on your smartphone via the TuneIn radio app or at You back David by patronizing his advertisers with specific reference to him. Even better, encourage independent media by having David run commercials for your business. Also, “buy me a coffee at the tip jar.”

Sources: Michelle Heron, “Teachers learn new tactics to defend against an active shooter,” TV3, Nov. 24, 2015,

Leopold Kohr, Wikipedia,

Kirkpatrick Sale, “An overview of Decentralism,” Lecture, June 28, 1996, International Decentralist Conference,

Kirkpatrick Sale, “After This Year’s Mess, Small Is More Beautiful Than Ever,” Jan. 2, 2014,,

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