Forthcoming

Mr. Big Food and I have a paper forthcoming in a book. Yadaya. Publishers want some AutoBio stuff.

Here you go.

“One of us asked the other if she remembered when she first realized she was a libertarian. She did not. After some reflection, though, she did recall when she began to understand what it meant to be free. It was early July 1976.

“Bernstein had the good fortune to have been raised in a community whose school system was classically liberal. For example, at the end of 7th grade, a student could choose to test into Algebra I and Latin I class(es) for 8th grade. If she did, and followed course, this meant Calculus II in her senior year. Students who fulfilled credit requirements could graduate in January of their senior year. Standard required courses were offered at four levels of difficulty, and only parents’ permissions were needed to opt for any given level, though once classes began there was a grace period to change. Elective courses were many and interesting (Mythology, Sociobiology), as were clubs (Latin, chess), and offerings in art, music (cello/orchestra), and sport. Early in Bernstein’s junior year her father was transferred to another state, and she and her family relocated to a community whose school system was—to put it charitably—not of the same caliber. She graduated from high school five months later.

“As a graduation gift her parents treated her to a trip to Germany, accompanied by her mom. Much of her mother’s family lived in Germany, so the itinerary included many pleasant stays with relatives, including a cousin who had a daughter of middle school age. One evening the daughter and her mother were visibly upset. Bernstein’s mother translated that the little girl’s test results had been received and that the little girl did not qualify to attend Gymnasium but would instead be placed in a vocational school. What the little girl wanted to be when she grew up required she attend Gymnasium. But she had no choice. The state had spoken. This offended Bernstein’s sensibilities. So while her own country was celebrating the bicentennial of its independence, in July 1976 Bernstein was abroad and beginning to understand what it meant to be free. “

Leave a Reply