Scott Christian

Scott Christian
Location
Los Angeles, California, USA
Birthday
August 29
Bio
Scott in his former life was a playwright but is now a tender of culture, sports, music, and literature. He spends most of his time attempting not to impose his obsession with baseball, motorcycles, and the music of U2 on the general public. In this regard, he has largely been a failure.

MY RECENT POSTS

Scott Christian's Links

Salon.com
Editor’s Pick
OCTOBER 12, 2009 2:00PM

Sucks To Be A Kid

Rate: 31 Flag

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.  

Your tags:

TIP:

Enter the amount, and click "Tip" to submit!
Recipient's email address:
Personal message (optional):

Your email address:

Comments

Type your comment below:
A faculty member at my daughter's school (small rural school) once told me that their school (and other likes it) have a higher rate of incidents because they report more things (smaller, less harmful incidents that would never even be noticed or dealt with in a larger school). Strange world.
I agree. We need common sense. But what do we do with the kids sending naked pictures of themselves to each other? Or the boy I had in my study hall that had obvious mental health issues tearing his clothes. The school did nothing to him, no matter what he did. Zero tolerance in regard to weapons, but the kids can do whatever they want.
This is not the case on the school buses here (Pennsylvania). The schools refuse to do anything. A boy, with mental health issues, tore apart his pencil sharpener and used the razor inside to slash another boy's bookbag (to such an extent that it was destroyed). They are in a corner because kicking the kids off the bus is messy (legally).
My opinion? It's all about saving one's butt. They are doing whatever is easiest and stops them from having legal issues.
Typical. Sad to say it, but this is definitely the age of total wussification of child-rearing. It seems to have extended to parenting too, which is scary, because that means I'm gonna look like a drill seargent compared to the rest of the parents, when I get around to having kids, even though I think I will adhere to the same parenting practices my folks had, which I thought were great.

Heck, a pencil could be a weapon, and in fact was, in a brutal murder that occurred in my hometown several years ago, in the dining hall of the local university. But that doesn't mean we should take away all the pencils in schools! In that case, the murderer was literally deranged and would probably have had it in him to bite someone to death, failing the availability of any other sharp objects.

A little girl I know was shouted at by her principal for hugging her sister on the playground at recess, because they had a no-tolerance policy on sexual harassment.

At this point, I'm very seriously considering home-schooling my future kids, to keep them away from those nutters.
There is a real need in our society for common sense and this is a great example. Since it is not "common" and could even be considered rare, does anyone out there have any ideas on teaching it? Is that possible? Wouldn't it be great?
Makes me glad I have no kids, honestly. I wonder how we expect kids to grow up and learn some basic good sense when they're surrounded by adults who never demonstrate having any sense, or judgement about situations as they arise. I would absolutely have hated having a hovercraft parent. Kids need to learn some independence, how to relate to their peers and other adults, and how to solve problems on their own.

Perverted would-be child abductors are not a modern invention, and I'm not saying there's NO cause to worry about them. But kids can and should be taught about how to avoid dangerous situations and how to get out of them when they arise. But most of the time, they can probably make their own way home from school pretty safely.
Regarding the six year old, his parents CAN refuse to send him to a "so called" reform school.

If not, then I'm calling BS!

Rated!
its nuts. I think it all goes back to 911. thats when the insanity really seemed to reach a tipping point. and of course, the whole thing was Manufactured. but it may be another 50 years before the world realizes it-- if ever.
Makes me very sad to read this. It doesn't have to suck to be a kid! Maybe it's a bit different here (I live in Australia). Lots of kids walk to our local primary school, and when they get there they play in a pretty old-fashioned playground that is, I'm sure, full of potential 'dangers'. My son often comes home with scrapes and bruises from playing with his mates at lunchtime - in the dirt, with a ball, after having dug a hole int he ground with a stick looking for worms and etc. Same stuff I did when I was a child.

For show and tell all types of things get dragged along to school. Yesterday - and I swear this is true though it sounds like something out of Tom Sawyer/Huckleberry Finn times - his best friend brought a piece of wood into which he'd burned his name using a magnifying glass and the sun. He said when he took it inside to show his mum she was really impressed (which means he was just hanging out in the back yard making his own fun). I told him I was really impressed too, and I meant it.

Having said that, it's maybe good that things are a little different from when I was a child:) My parents used to drive home from parties happily drunk, while my brother and I slid across the vinyl bucket seat in the back, seat-belt free, sharing our space with the dog, who would occasionally end up on my dad's lap. My dad would often be smoking with all the windows up too. Amazing we didn't crash really.

It is important to loosen up a little and allow children to explore, experiment, muck around and have fun but still look out that they don't walk in front of a truck. It's about balance and intelligent limits yes?
It about an attitude that there is a way to have perfect safety. A perfectly safe childhood, removing all risk, even if possible, would create what kind of adult?

These zero tolerance rules are insane. To take away judgment and common sense is to remove all humanity.
If even we saw common sense sometimes ..."hey! look there it is" and whoosh! its gone! And who suffers here ...a 6 year old?? 911 has caused our sanity to be completely lost. Rtd
I agree that this case makes no sense, but I do see the point with the issue of how allowing for personal judgment calls can lead to biased applications of the rules. For example, were this kid 12 with his nifty knife/fork/spoon thing in school, would the school decider (principal/teacher/lunch lady) treat him the same way as the black/brown/Asian/accented/differently attired 12 year old who did the same thing?

People employ biases when they make decisions. A white kid with a fork/spoon/knife may be a kid who makes an honest mistake. Yet a kid considered "other" in the same scenario will not be let off so easily and lightly. That kid might be labeled a "threat."

So let's say we take this out of the realm of this 6 year old, how do we make sure that all "judgment calls" by authority figures in school are rendered equally?
@teendoc

So your solution to the possibility that some judgments might prove unfair is to institute rules that ensure some judgments MUST be unfair, and ludicrous to boot. Now that's political correctness run amuck.
Thank you Scott - this was a very "common sense" approach to an issue which lacks it. To me it is like looking at the symptom and not the cause -- monitor the gun but not the shooter. It's crazy making.

My child's school has a "no sugar" policy. Now sugar is evil. I'm all for balanced meals, physical education, etc., but no cup cakes on your birthday? No Valentine's exchange? Holy hell it's gotten wacky.

It's the children, and by extension the parents, who need to be evaluated more. The children are often the symptom of the parents, too. Of course there are exceptions to this generalization - but as you say, that's where common sense comes in.
Great post Scott. There is an excellent blog that tries to challenge this insanity--Free Range Kids http://freerangekids.wordpress.com/
They picked up the Boy Scout story as well.
Oh the atmosphere is becoming moronic, for sure. Makes me want to pull out my Playdoh knife and go to town.

Kudos for shining light on the mass wussification. (A word which should be in the dictionary by now.)
I would echo Kirsten's viewpoint. As a parent of 3, I know first hand how hard it is to walk the fine line, figuring out if you are doing enough, too little, or too much. How do we know? My only answer is to pay attention to my kids and observe how they are in the world. It's easy to try and cast the blame and I, for one, am not going to aim it at the vast number of teachers who are out there doing a great job. And, when I send my kids off to school in the morning, I do appreciate knowing they are in a weapon free environment, or at least one that attempts to be. And, will I blame other parents? Maybe, but I also know I am an imperfect parent just trying to do the best I can and that causes me to want to give some of those over-protective parents a break. Just wondering, Scott, do you have kids? Not that you can't have an opinion on this if you don't, but it is harder to cast judgement when you are faced, on a daily basis, with the difficult decisions that parenting brings. I don't think my kids would say that life sucks for them in today's society -quite the opposite.
it seems so simple:

-- zero tolerance for weapons in school, check. OK.

-- allowances for adventure programs like scouting: take the "tool" away, no penalty; advise them to transport said tools outside all school activity & travel, to and from

What happened to grown-up thinking?

good post.
This one's not so much about overprotective parents. It's about the legal proceduralism that's taken over schools in their ever-increasing desire to avoid rocking the boat. (If you step back and get the meta view, it's ultimately about the way schools are funded in this country; we as a society are simply not willing to properly fund public education, and so they worry to death about the financial cost of lawsuits, an insane focus for an industry that deals so heavily in human nature. Trouble is unavoidable when you're supposedly in the business of challenging assumptions and nurturing the kind of independence that would have wildly disparate human beings thinking for themselves. But I digress.)

Every year for the last 10, whenever I get the form to sign that I've read and understand the handbook and the zero tolerance policy that applies, I write, "I oppose the zero tolerance policy and prefer that you address issues on a case-by-case basis," before I sign my name. It matters none in this huge suburb, but it makes me feel a little better.

For a child with ADHD or any who is impulsive, the zero tolerance policy is a nightmare. It's entirely true that the game becomes one of selectivity--those who are popular with kids and teachers (and believe me, they are the same children), a small incident is overlooked. For any kid who is immature, disliked, rough around the edges, or otherwise lacking, or whose parents fit that same bill, in swoops the school police, murmuring their regrets at having to administer their suspensions and expulsions "because of the zero tolerance policy we have here." It reminds me exactly of the fundamentalist bible thumpers who claim to live by the bible exactly. Nobody does, because nobody can. There are contradictions inherent in the thing. Same applies to schools. It's simply not possible to obtain a "zero problem zone," which is what zero tolerance means, and so it is rife with selective administration.

All of which makes me understand, intellectually at least, how this particular school district came to where it's at. I couldn't disagree more with its approach, and I laugh at the hilarity of their trying, even more diligently, to get to that "zero trouble zone." Jesus, when will they get that you can't control human nature? The answer is to back away from the draconian expectations, not move further and further into the land of fantasy. There is no question that zero tolerance policies ultimately subject disadvantaged populations to selective mistreatment. But the answer is not to try harder to maintain zero tolerance. The answer is to put that impossible and undesirable standard to bed for good and recognize that individuals need individual assessment. But such a policy costs a lot more money--mostly in personnel--than the schools have.
@Lainey - I totally understand and appreciate what you are saying. I can't believe there is a school system anywhere that could do a perfect job at deciding this on a case by case basis and so they make a sweeping policy to try to cover all their bases. And, as teendoc commented, I think in many communities race would play a determining factor even if the administration tries their hardest for it not to. I heard a story the other day from a local parent who is also a teacher - her son, a white high school football star, wore a red headband to school on game day with a bible verse written on it. The mom was concerned that it would be considered a hat (which is against rules) but her son assured her he would take it off if they asked him to. No one said a word to him about it all morning. At lunch, another football player, who is black, said he wanted to show the white player how things really worked in their school. He took the headband and put it on his own head. Within minutes, he was asked by a tacher to remove and sent to the office for wearing gang colors. I shouldn't have been shocked by the double standard, but I was. If I was a minority student, would I want to trust decisions about the degree of punishment given out for minor weapons violations to this same school administration?
I would hate to be a child in today's times. The things I thought I had to deal with as a child compared to what is going on today, is night and day. So many more temptations and definately more rules and regulations. I feel for today's youth. Thanks for the post, I enjoyed reading it.
Political correctness run amuck
I'm in Texas and sometimes pick up my two elementary aged kids from school (instead of having them ride the bus). We have a meeting spot--which is ON SCHOOL GROUNDS, ON A SIDEWALK, fifty feet from the road. I was told by the VP and a teacher, that, sadly, no, the kids couldn't stand there. It just wasn't safe... If, however, they moved off of the sidewalk and onto the grass, yes, that was fine. I can't begin to fathom their reasoning.

Here's another baffling scenario, for their safety?? I guess:

When I was a kid, and it was lunchtime, I walked into the cafeteria with my class (not my teacher) and stood in line for lunch and then sat down where I wanted, ate, talked, and then went outside to play when I was finished.

At this school, the kids walk single file into the lunchroom, get their lunches, and sit at assigned tables. Teachers patrol the aisles. Teachers regularly flip the lights off and on, demanding quiet so that the kids "don't forget to eat." At lunch's end, the kids line up at the door to outside. They walk outside in a line and then put their lunchboxes down and then line up again. Then they walk for 15 minutes around the playground (no running or skipping allowed). THEN, they have 15 minutes for free play. If it's too cold (below 60 degrees) or too hot (above 90), they don't go outside at all.

I've had four kids in the school and three of them adapted to the safety rules and the lunch rules (and the library rules, and the class rules, and the office rules, and the nurse's rules, etc.) However, my oldest daughter lived in constant fear of breaking some rule, doing something wrong, being in trouble for some rule that existed but that she didn't know about. She was in the gifted program and incredibly well behaved, but the stress of the myriad of rules for her so called safety gave her stomach aches and headaches. She stopped sleeping well at night. Her appetite disappeared. She started having panic attacks in the morning, so debilitating that I sometimes couldn't get her to school. I asked the school to work with her; they refused. Rules are rules, they said, and rules must be obeyed.
maybe our school administrators and teachers need to be give Atticus Finch lessons.
Excellent piece and comments. I will add "wussification" to my vocabulary, and I really like the idea of Atticus Finch lessons.
As much as I appreciate the truth in teendoc's thinking--that subjectivity reigns in "zero tolerance" environments--it's precisely that thinking that moved this particular school district in Delaware to where they're at. The answer is to apply more and better judiciousness, not less. By suggesting that we "make sure that all "judgment calls" by authority figures in school are rendered equally," we are merely moving in the direction of mindless application of rules onto human subjects. As I previously mentioned, I think thoughtful, intelligent, curious, compassionate personnel are the ones to manage the case-by-case administration of justice. Schools and other people-based organizations are trying too hard to remove the human element from their decision making. Children and families bring all manner of context to their behavior, and the solution I have in mind would have the disadvantaged people--often the minority, disabled, or poor students/clientele--getting the breaks rather than the advantaged populations.
A final comment: It's always easier to administer a policy that can be reduced to "zero tolerance." Always. You can hire anyone off the street to administer that kind of binary decision-making because there's no thinking involved. Schools should be full of excellent thinkers who appreciate the nuanced differences that students bring to the table. It should always be about what's best for individual students.
This is all part of "No Child Left Behind". If a child cannot be left behind, what does one do with the kids that act out? They expel them because they cannot punish them otherwise. Note I did not use the word discipline. To discipline would be to gain an orderly following of children, disciples in effect, following an ideal or principle. But Zen and the art of teaching is long lost, some might argue with small classrooms. I will adhere to my belief it is due to my own generation saying "When I grow up things will be different!" because the poor knuckleheads that made these laws got picked on or were honestly abused and started their trek into this chaotic good oblivion on a truly noble path which wound them spiraling as out of control as the commercials I blame ADHD on. I too walked to school...from first grade on! and oh when I got that bike, man! On behalf of my generation, I apologize. Maybe they forgot they too snuck something from home they weren't supposed to for show and tell (Fluffy hated that book bag!) or even snapped a bra strap just for fun and never even considered it sexual harassment (gasp!). Maybe they were just never fun kids to begin with.
Stellaa and teencoc:
I totally agree, even in small towns with homogeneous populations kids with the right connections will get special considerations it not just an issue of race or class. Of course 45 days of alternative school for a 6 year old is over the top, but anyone who has enrolled a kid in school in the last 20 years should realize that any kind of knife is a big no no. When my boys got their first pocketknives the first thing I said was "You cannot take that to school".
Yep, and the world just keeps on getting more and more ridiculous all the time. Maybe there should only be virtual Cub Scouts having online campouts eating online s'mores and using virtual mess kits in their virtual tents.
Oh and "teendoc", judgement calls can't be rendered "equally" because they're judgement calls! It relies on the judgement of the "official" who uses their knowledge and experience--just like when you make a judgement call as a "teendoc". Duh!
Libertarius: If your reading skills were a tad better, you would have appreciated that I asked how one could guarantee egalitarian standards in assessing individual situations if people are inherently biased? There is a natural tendency toward "othering" those who seem too different from us in some way. As such, can you make a guarantee that school personnel will treat all kids in the same manner when discretion is used, especially when Mamoore has given a perfect example of how schools do enforce rules in a biased way?

I know it is more comfortable to you to just continue to use denialism (aka throwing the "political correctness" gambit) to disavow the existence of these biases...especially since they do not affect you. But all I am suggesting is that we consider the big picture here in considering possible solutions.

And Lainey, perhaps you have more faith in the ability of people to be fair, but I believe (sadly) that most people think the universe ends at the tip of their nose. Getting them to stretch past their own experiences, perspectives, and realities is so difficult. Can you imagine the teacher who reported the kid in Mamoore's example backing down in the face of learning that it was the white kid's bandana? People hate being proven that their biases are showing, so they tend to dig in even harder with their position.

And even if schools created a sort of representative tribunal to assess these incidents, they would still be made up of people with biases. The biases would assume that the brown member will side with the brown "troublemaker" and so on and so on. I just don't see a way to remove bias in the decisionmaking when left to the individual school personnel. So it ends up become a question of which is better: egalitarian riduculous application of the rules despite mitigating factors or returning to school administrator discretion that we know to be biased against those who are "othered" in any sense?

What the best thing to do here is, I do not know. I only mean to point out that discretion is not without problem as well.
A lot of good comments here. I'm glad to see that I'm not the only one who thinks this is insanity. As far as the racism and preferential treatment argument if zero tolerance isn't invoked, I think that is an extremely nearsighted approach. Basically racists will find a way to bring hate into peoples lives regardless of the rules, so why should everybody suffer under some sort of draconian system because one person is being an idiot. What should be encouraged is punishment for teachers showing signs of preferential treatment rather than punishment for kids being kids. Personally, if this was a disadvantaged minority kid with poor grades but who was stoked to join the Boy Scouts and brought his Boy Scout tool to school I'd be even more pissed off. I like the person who posted the pencil argument. Seriously, shouldn't paper be round then so those dangerous corners aren't used as weapons. Why not pin the kids' sleeves to their shirts.
Oh and "teendoc", judgement calls can't be rendered "equally" because they're judgement calls! It relies on the judgement of the "official" who uses their knowledge and experience--just like when you make a judgement call as a "teendoc". Duh!

Uh Walter...Is reading comprehension your strong suit or is my message too complex for you to understand. I'll make it simple for you: Individually rendered "judgment calls" should be made in an unbiased manner. Yet individuals have innate biases. As such, judgment calls made by individuals will have bias and will not be rendered in an egalitarian unbiased manner.

Does this concern you or do you believe the fallacy that people can apply judgments without bias?

Save your "duhs" for someone on your reading level.
As far as the racism and preferential treatment argument if zero tolerance isn't invoked, I think that is an extremely nearsighted approach. Basically racists will find a way to bring hate into peoples lives regardless of the rules, so why should everybody suffer under some sort of draconian system because one person is being an idiot.

Why yes, Scott. There will always be racists, so why should there be any attempt to balance the system, since it will end up affecting nice little white kids like this one that made the NYT? We should just go back to "judgment calls" that will make things better for those who are not "other," right? The rest of the kids...well the racists are going to be doing their thing anyway, so what difference does it make?

And Scott, have you ever tried to proveracial bias? It's about as easy as nailing sand to the wall.

But hey, as long as this little kid doesn't end up in trouble due to stupid zero tolerance rules, let's forget the macro picture of how to address the problem for ALL children. And I'm thinking narrowly?
I sympathize, Scott, well written article, but I agree with teendoc and stellaa
teendoc, I thoroughly appreciate now that you are simply spelling out the difficulty in either strategy. My point is that trying harder to move toward zero tolerance is an exercise in futility. There is no there there. One can't reach zero tolerance in human dealings, and everybody loses in the effort. You're right of course that people are biased in all directions at all times, which is another way of saying "culture has an impact," but libertarius is right that throwing in the towel and accepting a bad policy because it's equally bad for everybody really isn't a good solution.

To reiterate, I have long realized that the 'original' zero tolerance indeed subjects the disadvantaged (and that can mean almost anybody a teacher or administrator wants it to mean) to capricious justice. Moving toward more draconian zero tolerance doesn't remove the capriciousness--people can always find the official justification to treat a student/client unfairly--but it just grabs more victims in its net. This idea that I have more optimism re the fairness of people/institutions really isn't relevant or accurate, given my belief that the unfair administrators will find a way to act upon their racism (or whatever ism applies).

I genuinely think this is simply a symptom of a large, complicated, and seemingly intractable school system where individual teachers and administrators have lost their ability or authority to act judiciously. In the long run, I'm a proponent of raising the pay, dramatically, of teachers while at the same time reducing class size, dramatically--the combination of which should result in better teachers and better learning environments. If organizations continue to hire mindless drones who can enforce prejudged scenarios and mitigate presupposed conflict and teach predetermined material, then this is the result. It helps nobody. Nobody wins.
To be clear to teendoc and Stellaa and anybody else who seems to be making the argument that "If it sucks for me, then it should suck for you too," (Correct me if I'm wrong in reducing your argument to that nut), I am in no way suggesting that the first round of 'zero tolerance' is where we should land. I want to throw the whole thing out. I'm not sure anybody else here is arguing that it's OK for disadvantaged students to bear the brunt of institutional insanity, either. I think everybody is simply saying the whole thing is stupid. Let's start over.
It may seem a little outrageous to suspend a 6 year old for bringing a knife to school, but his parents knew about the no tolerance policy when it comes to weapons, and shouldn't have allowed thier child to bring it to school. What if the kid had gotten into a fight?

-Nikki-
The kid and his mother were on the Today show this morning. They aren't sending him to reform school. His mother is homeschooling him.
The kid said that while he likes homeschooling he would be happy to go back to his regular school. Irony anyone??
I don't think his mother or father knew he was bringing the survival tool (or whatever) because when asked what he learned from this he said, "To ask before I bring something new to school."
I doubt this will keep him out of Yale in 12 years.
The zero tolerance policy was put in place to guard against both violence and the unfair treatment of minorities and the poor, because both happen.
I don't think it's insanity so much as it's a reaction to unfortunate realities. A line has to be drawn somewhere, and it has to be enforced. Many of us, perhaps, would have drawn it on the other side of eating utensils, but nearly all of us would draw it before handguns.

We do our children no favors if we teach them, even inadvertently, that the rules don't apply to them. Apparently I live in a different world, but I don't want someone else's child, sitting next to mine on the bus, carrying a knife. There is no positive value in flouting this rule, even if one does happen to be a cute little white kid who sometimes wears a suit to school for the fun of it. (His parents aren't doing him in any favors there, too.
we have run amok with protecting kids. there is only one way to learn things, and that, alas, is the hard way.rated
I agree completely. We've gone overboard the ship named common sense!
book recommendation: "free range children"
Lainey said, "In the long run, I'm a proponent of raising the pay, dramatically, of teachers while at the same time reducing class size, dramatically--the combination of which should result in better teachers and better learning environments. If organizations continue to hire mindless drones who can enforce prejudged scenarios and mitigate presupposed conflict and teach predetermined material, then this is the result. It helps nobody. Nobody wins."

This was excellent and exactly how I feel. My earlier comment was too symptomatic of itself. I was venting. It seems to have gotten wacky in some regards. But, to truly fix the problem, I believe fully in what Lainey's saying. With the economic crush, the money is still going to the top versus being funneled to the bottom, where all the kids can win. This is how real change will be enacted. Thanks Lainey!

Stellaa said, "Only problem is, I repeat, you all don't mind when it's applied to poor, minority or bad students. When a precious honor student, white kid or rich kids gets the benefit of your authoritariansim, you demand that the system show judgement and leniency."

Who are you talking about? If the "you" you are talking about is me then you are sorely mistaken. I would appreciate it if you were careful with your pronouns. This article does happen to be about a white kid - period. Yes, racism obviously still exists. But, if you believe that white people (i.e. me) are not on the firing lines trying to extinguish it, you are adding to the problem, not helping fix it. I hope we can all come together in this issue, not poke fingers and assumptions at each other.
The only "zero tolerance" that I can live with is one against so-called "political correctness" ("political intolerance", is more like it). Just what the heck is going on out there!? Have people gone completely nuts? There must be a Spanish Inquisition-like cabal housed somewhere next door to a Cheney torture chamber, which has nothing better to do than institute annoying, dangerous, downright inhuman laws concerning just about everything, from gender, race, religion, all the way down to boy-scouting. What happened to freedom of expression, freedom of action, well, freedom? After all these years since he first wrote it, I finally understand Anthony Newley when he begged us to "stop the world, I want to get off".
teendoc,
It's not my reading skills which are suspect. It's your sanctimonious drivel which causes my knee to jerk upward.
"judgment calls made by individuals will have bias and will not be rendered in an egalitarian unbiased manner."
Again, "duh" it's a judgement call! That's the nature of a judgement call. I am a champion of egalitarianism but by the same token I am a champion of "common sense" and that's where the judgement comes in. You are trying to impose and absolutely politically correct approach to something which common sense suggests was harmless. Judgement calls are rendered every day by every person.
You are obviously too young to recall the admonition received by youngsters in school in the 50's and 60's. We would be let off the hook for some minor infraction with the admonition that any repeat of said behavior would go into our "permanent record". That mystical fear of our "permanent record" served innumerable times with innumerable kids to correct (at least temporarily) mischievous or other negative behavior.
It's also hard to have full empathy for this youngster and is family unless you have been there/done that with one or more of your own kids. I have and my kids benefitted from "judgement calls" and the "wisdom" of administrators while at the same time being held accountable for behavior.
So, if you want to be "snippy" with me that's great but perhaps you need to transcend the theoretical and spend more time with the practical--I imagine your clients would ultimately benefit from that too.
Wussification is right.

I had a slumber party for my 10 year old son this weekend. Picture this: eight ten year old boys pillow fighting. Someone is bound to get hurt at some point, right?

Typically the boys will bounce right back after a minor injury, dust themselves off and start playing again. This time, however, there was a new kid over. One that had been seriously wussified by his mother. He got hit with a pillow ( or perhaps a fist, accidentally) then proceeded to lock himself in the bathroom where he called his mother. Next thing you know she is barging through my front door ( mind you, no knock or phone call first) demanding to take her son home.

Guess what she did next? This foolish woman called the COPS! Can you believe this. The cops? Over a pillow fight. She actually called 911, sobbing. She told them her boy had been assaulted.

Needless to say this kid will not be coming back to our place. I feel bad for him but not willing to deal with his drama mama.