School of Americas needs new curriculum

Despite loud complaints from protesters in the United States and abroad, the House narrowly rejected an amendment to close down the controversial School of the Americas. Instead, the school — which trains military and police officers from Central and South America — will undergo a name change. Protesters claim the name change is only superficial and not significant of any much-needed change in the school’s curriculum. The school has been widely criticized for producing soldiers who later commit human-rights violations and atrocities. Proponents say the school fulfills a much-needed role in the international community, despite the actions of a few abusive ex-students. Although this change might only be superficial, another decision addresses its curriculum’s flaws. The school promises to supplement their practical combat-oriented training with courses in civil rights. In fact, such thoughtful training in philosophy might save the organization’s battered reputation.
Often in education, any instruction in ethics and morality is considered an afterthought. It seems one should only wax philosophical after mastering the more “practical” skills. Philosophy, however, is not about mere enrichment or something one studies to become “well-rounded.” Rather, philosophy is about decision-making, a skill that many of the school’s graduates lack.
Where is strong decision-making more important than in militant organizations where violence is often an answer? These graduates, who otherwise might never thoughtfully address civil rights, should be forced to confront civil rights issues before learning how to aim rifles. All over the world, one can see the benefits of thoughtful decision-making, as well as the damage of shallow ethics.
Protesters grumble about U. S. intervention in the matters of the world. Nevertheless, many nations would benefit from worthy instruction. The question is, can the United States successfully teach potential military and police officers in foreign countries? Surely our police force rivals those of many other nations, but training officers in other nations might take more help than the United States is able to give. The United States boasts a successful democracy. When a few police officers beat up innocent bystanders, the response from protesters and the government is frequently quick and merciless. Unfortunately, many struggling governments cannot ensure the same justice for their citizens. In most cases, a struggling country does not need better-armed henchmen and military grunts, but well-educated citizens and government. Then, when instructing future military and police officers, an understanding of civil rights must form the foundation for all combat training.
If the United States is going to have the responsibility of training other nations in military and police tactics, then we must ensure that we are teaching an ethical curriculum. The finer points of morality will always be debated, but when a military school graduates thoughtless dictators and brutal police officers, one must critically reconsider the school’s instruction. If the government investigates the school and decides it should remain open, then the school must not only outline civil rights and ethics, but provide rigorous coursework in the philosophy of civil rights and the correct behavior for police and military officers.