Monday, October 12, 2009

Educate the Educators

A dozen years ago it was a well-intentioned stupidity. Schools sought to take control of deteriorating conditions by instituting "zero-tolerance" policies. Worried about kids doing drugs on school grounds? Then zero-tolerance on pills of any kind. Teachers won't have to make decisions about whether the little white thing is an aspirin, an upper, a tranq, a prescription or a Tic-Tac.

Feeling a bit insecure about guns? Can't distinguish between a broom-stick held to the shoulder and an M4 carbine? Zero tolerance is your answer for ignorance. Knife? Nunchuku? How about figuring out how small a Claymore can be? Is it a landmine or a medieval Scottish weapon. Makes no difference if we are employing zero tolerance. Thumb up and forefinger extended while going "bang-bang"--suspension for you!

The problem is that school teachers are supposed to be educated people. They are supposed to be graduates of college. They are supposed to be capable of exercising judgment. How can they teach the next generation to exercise judgment if they have none of their own?

Repeatedly the ZT policies have been headlined and inevitably ridiculed as the limp wrists try to justify their indecisiveness. Here is yet another:

Clearly a Danger to Society

The young man is thrilled to be a scout. He's going to learn camping skills and he brings his "spork" to school to eat his lunch. What mayhem could he wreak throughout the system armed with dining utensils?

Notice the language of the bureaucrat in that item.

"At this time, the Student Code of Conduct does not take into consideration a child's age in a Level three offense," the statement read.

I can only wonder if a "level three" offense is worse or better than levels one and two. Is this like manslaughter compared to murder one?

Christina School District in Newark, Del., has suspended the first grader and ordered him to attend the district's reform school for 45 days.

That's right, this six-year-old is now sentenced to forty-five days in District Reform School! He can only come out of such an experience a hardened criminal for the rest of his life, trained in the ways of locker thieves, marker bandits, paper snitchers, and playground bullies.

There's more detail on this frightening story in the New York Times:

This Situation Could Easily Escalate

There we learn that this extends far beyond the Christina School District. It is state law! Yes, indeed, folks. This is serious:

The law was introduced after a third-grade girl was expelled for a year because her grandmother had sent a birthday cake to school, along with a knife to cut it. The teacher called the principal — but not before using the knife to cut and serve the cake.

I guess we've got to at least give that teacher credit for having enough judgment to cut the cake before calling the principal.

What limits are there to this absurdity?