April 02, 2005
I have often ranted about the idiocy of "zero tolerance" rules in public schools today. As nearly as I can tell, zero tolerance accomplishes three things and none of them are good.
First, it teaches kids that adults are witless drones. Tossing kids out of school and treating them like vicious felons for having a nail file is certain to convince young skulls full of mush that teachers are wise. That idea always has worked: act like a complete moron and students respect you.
Second, it does not discriminate between a real problem student with a history of discipline problems and the poor bastard who brought a butter knife to school in his lunch box. In fact, the kid with the butter knife gets in more trouble than the eventual occupant of a cell in the state prison. In many of these cases, the law is an ass, the kids see that fact clearly, and they lose all respect for law in general.
Third, the policy doesn't work to stop incidents such as the Red Lake High School shootings. So, we have an idiotic set of rules, enforced blindly by idiotic people, and the rules don't work to stop what they were meant to stop.
Maybe there is hope on the horizon, but I seriously doubt that this good idea will go anywhere.
One former Katy, Texas, high school student says he understands that administrators are trying to create a safe environment, but that they are going too far. A sophomore in 2001, he was late to biology class one day and his teacher sent him to the office for a tardy slip. While he was gone, he says, she asked the class to turn in their spiral notebooks - but no one told him to turn in his notebook when he returned, and his grade dropped from a B to a C.
So he scribbled her name on a piece of paper labeled "permanent list of people who piss me off" - a joke, he says. He then tore up the paper and threw it in the wastebasket. But by day's end, he was in handcuffs. He spent the night in juvenile hall, having been declared a "terrorist threat," and spent eight weeks in an alternative school.
"Zero tolerance is an absolute joke," he says. "I understand that it makes teachers feel better, but it's making school almost like a prison."
That punishment made a lot of sense, didn't it? And schools ARE becoming a lot like prison. Students don't learn much in the way of education, but they know better than to get caught with an unauthorized spork in their lunchbox. They'd better mind their "terroristic threats," too.
Public school should not be a fascist environment. But it is today.
My daughter and her friends are getting ready to protest changes that are supposed to be made at her High School next year. The school has suddenly decided that they need to have more SRO's (school resource officers) and are installing metal detectors.
Sadly, it is not even due to any incidents of violence at her high school this year. It is because of what has gone on in OTHER schools, in OTHER areas.
My daughter carries a cell phone because she is on the gymnastic team. They leave school early to go to the gym for practice. Sometimes, pracitce ends early...they are not allowed to use the phones in the gym's office. So, we got her a cell phone (with limited minutes) so, that she can call in case she needs to be picked up early. Because YES, I don't want my 15 yr. old daughter stranded in front of the gym for an hour if practice ends early (they won't let them stay inside if they are NOT working out).
BUT, if her phone is found in her backpack (even though it is turned OFF while she is in the school building)...they CAN confiscate. They have the "right" to run a metal detector over her bag, and if they detect anything they can go thru her bag.
FOR A CELL PHONE...that she doesn't use in school...Believe me..when and IF this ever happens...the principal and I will be having WORDS!
It is SO bad, that I CAN'T allow her to take her inhaler (she has asthma) in her backpack in case she needs it for gymnastics. She could get busted for having "drugs" on her person. She would have to take it to the school office...then EVERYDAY...go to the school nurse, check it out...and take it back every morning and check it back in...only to do the SAME thing again later....
Although, I have had her take it when her allergies have been bad...To HELL with the school policy...I'll fight them tooth and nail...I'd rather see her suspended then dead from an asthma attack!
Okay, my little comment has turned into a full rant and something I probably should have just tracked back and posted on MY BLOG! LOL!
Color my ditzy! LOL!
What the hell ever happened to 'judgement'? It's obvious that there's a big difference between a bag of dope and asthma medication.
Aren't these "educators" able to make the judgement that one is legitimate and one is criminal? Somehow I believe that they are no longer capable of discerning the difference any more.
As to things like Wendi's daughter's cellphone. I understand the school limiting/restricting the use of cellphones, but as long as they are off I don't see a problem with possessing one of the damn things.
What's next? Pens and Pencils? They are sharp and could be used as weapons, you know.
The assumption of liberty has wasted away. Recently our local high school banned all smoking anywhere in the facility, including adults. An official preened herself on the decision, saying the faculty and staff had an obligation to set a good an example for the kids.
My question, is how about the bad example such policies always set? Americans should be respectful of the liberties of adults, even when practiced in a way we personally disapprove of. If the kids see us doing the opposite (and boomer educators do so constantly), they will not presume their fellow citizens have any rights once they are grown.
Americans used to be proud of minding their own business, and reluctant to expand the scope of that business.
As a school board member in a metro Atlanta school system, I can agree. But blame state laws for requiring local schools to carry such policies. We had a kid move here from south Georgia and was caught with a box cutter (because he had a job that required it). Because of state law he was suspended and given a quick tribunal. I noticed where he was from and said "Hell, down there they require side arms". He was back in school in a day. Many of us would rather the state get the hell outta local systems.
The state just allowed cell phone possession to be ruled by local boards. Thanks a lot. They can now carry them in the building but turned off and put away during class.
You're right. The law is an ass. My wife believes a law should be obeyed regardless of the long range outcome. I tell her that stupid and unjust laws should be disobeyed on a regular basis. One day she may know the difference. Yeah, whatever happened to judgment? Oh, that would never do. That would be teaching kids to think critically.
A pox on the bastards.
The begining of the end of my HS was when they built a brand new HS around the basketball team. They got rid of most of the arts beacuse it didn't bring in a "gate".
When you drive by this huge monstrosity the only thing that's missing from making it look like a min. security prison are the guard dogs and razor wire.
A friend of my brother got caught with his inhaler and was suspended for a week. His parents made a huge stink and it was reduced to time served, which was 2 days.
The funny part about all of this is that had these silly horses asses been in charge when I was in HS, we would have drove them crazy with the "zero tolerance" pranks we would have pulled. C'mon - a butter knife!? If someone in our school back then had been busted and suspended for something as silly as a kitchen knife, or a picture of a gun or any of the other stipid bullshit that makes the news these days, my friends and I would have smuggled in a bunch of whatever item and planted them all over the school just to see the gestapo go nuts.
So the kid was suspended for making a list of "people that piss me off"?! Within a day, we would have had a hundred copies of that list tacked up all over the school.
Zero tolerance is simply a bureaucrat's way of making sure that he has a rule to hide behind instead of having to use his own judgement and that rare commodity, common sense...
Kick a kid out of school because of a butter knife? The bureaucrat can simply point to the rule. "See?!?! It says "no knives" and THAT"S a knife. We don't want another Columbine."
Compulsory attendance laws and truancy laws in the states basically allow state control of children. Check the school laws in your state (they may be classified as "education laws", but that's mislabelling at best). You'll find that parents and children have fewer rights than prisoners
My mom was on the rifle team in her high school. She'd walk to school with a .22 rifle slung over her shoulder. Times have changed. The new rules aren't making us any safer. When the good guys won't let you hang with them, the bad guys have a recruiting field day.
One must consider the outcomes and objectives of a true education, which are almost always spiritual rather than academics. Anyone can be intelligent, but to what end: To be upright, to love justice, to think clearly, to overcome limitations and persevere during hardship, to be joyful, to have reverence and respect - these carry a man forward and prepare the next generation to maximize their potential without bitterness. All too often, our academic environments fall short of these requirements and spawn the type of mentality we see today - people ill-prepared to cope with the demands of life, at a loss as to how to move forward through life, and fixing blame on everything outside of themselves. Hold only yourself accountable for your education, and make it a lifetime deal.