Wednesday, September 3, 2014

The education of a young super

"Give me the child until he is seven and I’ll give you the man" -- St. Francis Xavier
Some attempts have been made to create "all-supers" schools for general education, at every grade level. As the presence of superhuman potential can be revealed by a blood test at almost any age, it is possible to sweep a population for signs of it.

Currently, segregating superhuman and mundane students is illegal in public schools. Private schools are allowed to make a distinction, provided that they can demonstrate a "significant commitment to the educational needs" of their supers, and they may not turn away mundanes if they take any government funding at all - Title IV of the Civil Rights Act does not extend to private institutions.

Past attempts at creating such schools in the United States have run from the benign (the Heights Academy - see below) to borderline indoctrination and brainwashing (the Miller Mountain Schools). Other countries often have similar cases.

Power High

A specific sort of super-school involves training supers in the use of their powers. Such schools do not receive Federal funding, although groups like the Department of Defense will pay for "scholarships".

There are three such institutions in the United States:
  • Black River Mentoring, located in Los Angeles, advertises itself as "a full-spectrum curriculum for transhuman individuals in the modern world". Its instructors are a mixture of ex-soldiers and supers, and it has come under investigation by the Department of Justice in the past. Critics accuse it of being a training ground for super-mercenaries.
  • Lydecker Preparatory School, in upstate New York, was created by an endowment from anonymous benefactors. It's geared more for supers to get into business and politics, and persistent rumors of "mind-control rings" usually center around Lydecker graduates.
  • Power Pro, in Texas, is organized and run in cooperation by an alliance of paramilitary group. Though it is not publicized, their goal is the training and indoctrination of superhumans. The school has remained out of trouble by offering their students' services to groups like the DEA in hunting down drug smugglers coming across the American border.
School Rivalry

The Cascade mountain range plays host to two reclusive educational institutions.

The Heights Academy is a private primary and secondary school for children who demonstrate superhuman powers or gifts of any kind. Scholarships are provided at a very generous level. The teachers are well-trained, well-paid, and very capable. There is a small contingent of security personnel, for the protection of both students and staff. The curriculum includes both general education and the practical use of superpowers.

The Boddicker Reform School, very nearby, serves quite a different purpose. Boddicker is where juvenile super-convicts are sent, on the theory that most super-proofed prisons are not equipped for juvenile offenders and certainly not conducive to their education. The school is run more like a prison than a place of learning, but the staff are professional, empathic, and discreet.

The proximity of the two schools is no accident. The Cascades afford an ideal area in which to practice powers, especially those involving mobility or destructive forces, without attracting attention. But there are other reasons.

The founders analyzed the state of superhumans around the world and concluded that what was missing wasn't more law and order, but more understanding. The Heights Academy and Boddicker kids regularly train together, compete against each other in carefully refereed competitions, and even attend events (like sports) in mixed groups. The first generation of graduates seemed to vindicate the founders' theories, at least partially - while several of the Boddicker kids went on to become villains and several Heights graduates took up heroic vigilantism, their interactions were more rivalry than blood feud. Their shared upbringings and common experiences forged a bond between them that spared both the supers and any nearby citizens a lot of bloodshed.

Several groups - including government agencies like ACTION - have "guidance counselors" in place at Heights Academy, hoping to steer graduates toward their respective organizations. And while Boddicker makes every effort to provide legal and safe career options for its kids, the fact is that a few of its career paths are fronts for villain groups who need apprentices, flunkies, or cannon fodder.

The schools have come under heavy criticism, claiming that their structure is set up to encourage conflict, rather than really trying to rehabilitate juvenile offenders or prepare teenagers for anything but the superhuman world. That said, there have been a few cases where students were transferred from Boddicker to Heights Academy without major incident - a sign of actual rehabilitation, and thus success.