In a gathering dominated by professional writers, publishers, teachers and think-tankers, Knipe was probably the only fork lift operator in attendance. He bucked SepCon demographics in another way, too--he is single and has no children of his own. Knipe will tell you, though, that he loves children and wants to make sure their future is one of opportunity and freedom.
Knipe also loves to tell people about the alternative school he attended in the early 1970s. He'll even proudly show you photographs of it. Housed in its own wing of a Catholic high school in New York City, the LC School (for "Learning Community") won high praise from students, educators and parents. It was closed after just four years, though, due to what Knipe thinks was short-sightedness on the part of the diocese.
Knipe hopes the alternative school movement will blossom once more, but he knows that will happen only when families are set free to chart their own educational course. When he read about the Separation of School & State Alliance in Why Government Doesn't Work, a book by Harry Browne (1996 Libertarian Party presidential candidate), Knipe told himself, "This sounds like an organization I want to join." He bought all the tapes from the first Separation convention in 1995, and signed up to attend the 1996 event. At SepCon'96 he went so far as to make a short speech giving his own perspective on the need for radical educational change.
Bob Knipe is proof that the Separation idea has appeal beyond the usual categories of frustrated teachers, fed-up parents, and academic philosophizers. He may be a harbinger of the broader based movement that must develop if Separation is to win.