Common sense has now officially gone out the window. An article in today’s New York Times perfectly illustrates the degradation of American intelligence when it comes to all things reasonable. In Newark, Delaware, a six year old was suspended for 45 days because he brought a Boy Scout tool to school; a fork, spoon, knife combo that he was using because he’d recently joined the Boy Scouts and was eager to learn the ways of the fearless adventurer. Now he faces not only suspension but time logged in a reform school. Oh, yeah, and apparently the kid is a straight-A student who occasionally wears a tie to school because he takes it so seriously. Can I get a collective WTF?
Parents and schools have been sliding down this slippery slope of wussified child rearing for years and this just has to be a breaking point. Of course the school’s reasoning for the suspension is a zero tolerance policy on weapons because of school violence like Columbine and Virginia Tech. Horrible instances for sure, but ones first of all not perpetrated by six year olds. I can appreciate how scary these sorts of things can be for parents and schools, but the problem is, as is so often the case in this country, there is no reasonable ability to draw a line in the sand. It’s always all or nothing, black and white, no room for compromise. We’ve become the perpetual guy who takes everything too literally and never gets the joke. A six year old with a Boy Scout tool is, I’m going with better than even odds here, probably not a threat for violence.
According to the article, these sorts of zero tolerance policies were instituted after problems of racism and preferential treatment cropped up when school officials were allowed discretion over individual cases. So basically what this is saying is that because adults are idiots, good kids are going to suffer even more. If little Zachary had no intention to stab anybody, that’ll probably change after this episode. Thankfully though, he’ll develop proper stabbing technique in the mandatory reform school he’ll be sent to, so no one will be the victim of sloppy violence. Apparently there are further cases along the same lines throughout the country where adults fail to exercise even the faintest notion of common sense. One girl was expelled for bringing a birthday cake to school with a knife that her grandmother had packed to cut it. The teacher reported the knife after she used it to cut and distribute the cake. Seriously, how much does it suck these days to be a kid.
This falls in line with so much insanity these days that it’s almost not worth getting riled up about. Almost. I remember an article a while back (I don’t remember where I read it but it might have been on Salon) about a woman who was nearly run out of town for allowing her young kids to walk to school. What kind of negligent monster would push her defenseless children out into the wilds like that? Oh, yeah, I used to walk to school on my own as a kid. Actually, I rode my bike. I remember being so excited to reach fourth grade because that was the year my school would allow us to ride our bikes. Oh sweet freedom, just me and my hog (a blue Huffy BMX). I was ten years old. Now apparently the world is full of evils trying to steal children, unlike when I was a kid and this peaceful society actually had higher rates of crime. With the whole walking to school thing though, the misdirected neuroses of parents and educators were merely affecting the future development of these children. Now these people are ruining actually being a kid. Unacceptable.
For now, Zachary and his parents are left to fight this uphill battle of reason gone MIA, and an otherwise good kid is, get this, missing part of his education. There is even a website, helpzachary.com. For my part, I’m just galled and saddened to live in a world where a child’s every thought and action is heavily regulated by crackpot “psychologists” who I’m guessing are barely qualified to run their own lives. I don’t know where the lion’s share of the blame needs to fall, on these education professionals or parents who’ve allowed things to come this far, but something needs to change. Kids need to be able to be kids so that they can one day be vaguely competent adults, something which we seem to be seeing less and less of as time goes on.