Monday, October 12, 2009

Zero Tolerance for Cub Scout Utensils

Remember the West Bengal boy who is teaching all those children in the rain and mud? I said at the end of that inspiring story that he wouldn’t survive in the school environment in the US.

My point is made for me by this School District in Delaware:

Finding character witnesses when you are 6 years old is not easy. But there was Zachary Christie last week at a school disciplinary committee hearing with his karate instructor and his mother’s fiancé by his side to vouch for him.

Zachary’s offense? Taking a camping utensil that can serve as a knife, fork and spoon to school. He was so excited about recently joining the Cub Scouts that he wanted to use it at lunch. School officials concluded that he had violated their zero-tolerance policy on weapons, and Zachary was suspended and now faces 45 days in the district’s reform school.

“It just seems unfair,” Zachary said, pausing as he practiced writing lower-case letters with his mother, who is home-schooling him while the family tries to overturn his punishment.

UNFAIR?? It’s criminal. This is the depth of ignorance, torturing this child for some insane zero-tolerance dogma. When will our school systems grow up? They have become so dull-witted that they can no longer make moral distinctions. In fact, they explicitly rule such differentiation off the turf:

Spurred in part by the Columbine and Virginia Tech shootings, many school districts around the country adopted zero-tolerance policies on the possession of weapons on school grounds. More recently, there has been growing debate over whether the policies have gone too far.

What is there to debate in this case? A six year-old comes to school with his Cub Scout camping utensils and his reward for displaying enthusiasm is a month-and-a-half in the district’s reform school? What in the world do they do for real discipline cases?

I’ve visited those alternative classrooms…
- - - - - - - - -
…this child will be endangered if he’s put in one. The classes are usually (all the ones I’ve seen) reserved for truants, bullies, and sullen, oppositional adolescents. I’ll guarantee you that an institution as blind as this one has shown itself to be is not going to be watching out for this child. It’s too busy pasting over its own behind with safety stickers to notice any harm he may encounter.

According to these bureaucrats they had “no choice” because their policies are not based on intent. The child had a camping fork and knife gizmo, and knives aren’t allowed. No exceptions, no reasoning, just ignorant rules applied with a fundamentalist orthodoxy :

But the question on the minds of residents here is: Why do school officials not have more discretion in such cases?

“Zachary wears a suit and tie some days to school by his own choice because he takes school so seriously,” said Debbie Christie, Zachary’s mother, who started a Web site,, in hopes of recruiting supporters to pressure the local school board at its next open meeting on Tuesday. “He is not some sort of threat to his classmates.”

Of course he’s not a threat. The bureaucrats are the threat. Zachary is simply an easy target for some overpaid pen pusher in Delaware. Get this:

Still, some school administrators argue that it is difficult to distinguish innocent pranks and mistakes from more serious threats, and that the policies must be strict to protect students.

“…it is difficult to distinguish innocent pranks and mistakes…”. Why is that so hard? Because studying to become a school official erases your ability to make judgment calls, perhaps? The rule book rules, and common sense left the room a long, long time ago.

Here’s an excuse so lame it has no feet on which to stand:

“There is no parent who wants to get a phone call where they hear that their child no longer has two good seeing eyes because there was a scuffle and someone pulled out a knife,” said George Evans, the president of the Christina district’s school board. He defended the decision, but added that the board might adjust the rules when it comes to younger children like Zachary.

Notice that this decision has been butted up to the top of the food chain in Christina and the wisdom isn’t any thicker on the ground up there than it is in the lower reaches of this Inferno.

Hey, Joe Biden. This is your state. Come on up and talk some sense into these people…Oh, never mind. I forgot: it’s Joe Biden. That is one man who can’t afford to give anyone a piece of his mind.

We need to abolish “No Child Left Behind” and use the monies to create a program called “Academic Horse Manure Remediation”.

To protect the children.


Anonymous said...

The West is on a dumbing down curve.

Godffrey said...

The American public school system: creating defeated and cynical children for two generations and counting.

christian soldier said...

Debbie-I encourage you to continue Homeschooling -contact Home School Legal Defense Association...HSLDA...
and they will help you find a local support group---
Zachary deserves better than what the schools in your district can offer!!!!!!!!!!!

Skalman said...

Well. I could have understodd if there hade been a fuss about the kid coming to school showing his brand new Bowie and waving it around. But a camping utensil? That is plain outright ridiculous.

What do the kids use when they eat lunch in school? Chopsticks? Oppps! They are too pointy, obviously. Fork and table knifes? DANGEROUS!!!! Spoon? Sorry boys and girls. Those are lethal weapons that can be used to dig someones eyeballs out.

You´d better stick to using your hands when eating as long as you´re careful not to poke any of those ten little fingers into your own or someone else´s eyes.

Is it a necessity to be a complete and utter fool to become a state-employed beaurocrat? It sure seems that way no matter what country you work in.

Anonymous said...

Robert posted: The West is on a dumbing down curve.

That includes all the Nobel prizes. The Liberals have also noted that there is a singular lack of Blacks and women who have been awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics. This is clearly a male chauvinist conspiracy, and has to be dealt with.

Goddess of the Classroom said...

Thank goodness my school district has never done anything this stupid.

However, many districts do tolerate behaviors that, while not violent, disrupt classes and learning.

Hell_Is_Like_Newark said... is a dead link.
Are we certain this story is legit and not a troll? The kid wearing a suit & tie sort of set off my BS meter.

Kathy said...

It's a policy of the perpetually fearful, from the home of the brave.

Gort said...

Newark, I'm pretty sure it's legit unless most of the other media have been duped.

About a similar travesty, Nicki at The Liberty Zone writes:

"You want to know why the new generation sprouting up in this nation is a bunch of whiny, self entitled wusses? This is part of the reason why! There's no common sense in today's public schools. There is no effort to apply the principles of sound judgment and rationality. There's merely this blind drive to "do something" to keep schools safe - without any kind of rhyme or reason."

I agree with her. These cases are just symptoms of a disease. A disease manifest in the current administration which was brought to office by those infected and the very infectors themselves. Think of the NEA as disease vector.

Dymphna said...

@ Hell_Is_Like_Newark --

Have you had much contact with public schools? I have and they are even worse than this story indicates.

Sorry about the dead link. I just took it from the NYT site without checking it. My bad.

BTW,this kid sounds like the fBaron when he was six. Fortunately, he was home-schooled at that age so he never ran into this kind of thinking. He sure did when he was older and went to a Friends' school (on scholarship). It was every bit as p.c. and intolerant as this bunch. The parents, being members of the elite intelligentsia, were right on board with the nonsense. The only difference is that the children were not subjected to these stupidly draconian punishments.

thll said...

Isn't this a function of equality mania? It's a result of efforts to eliminate discretion because of its link with discrimination - thus laws are reduced to words and the spirit is forgotten.