There are a lot of things pissing me off this week. It must be the cheap scotch I’ve found myself drinking lately. You see, I’ve been told by my tax advisor that I should not be expecting a
Stupidity Reward Stimulus Check of any amount. Apparently, I have managed my financial affairs too prudently, saved and invested too much money and lived within my means. Therefore, I do not qualify to receive some of my own money back from the government. The absence of $1200 has forced me to downgrade from Dewar’s to Scoresby’s for a period of time, and has undoubtedly left me a bit edgy. But I digress:
We’ve all seen the news stories citing examples of Zero Tolerance rules gone amuck in schools. These include fifth-graders in California who adorned their mortarboards with tiny toy plastic soldiers to support troops in Iraq, but were forced to cut off the toy’s miniature ‘weapons’. Or a Utah boy who was suspended for giving his cousin a cold pill prescribed to both students. In Rhode Island, a kindergartner was suspended for bringing a plastic knife to school so he could cut cookies.
Some of my favorite examples include Kilmer Middle School in Vienna, Virginia where the Principal has banned any and all physical contact between students. This includes things like hugging, holding hands or even shaking hands. Football players are not allowed to “high five” after a touchdown. I’m not joking.
Jacob Finklea (12) was expelled from a central Indiana school for bringing scissors to a sewing class. Patrick Agin (17), a Dungeons & Dragons fan, took his senior photo dressed in chain mail and broadsword but was edited out of the school year book because the Principal thought it might ‘be a threat to the academic environment.’ While Patrick may indeed be a Dungeons & Dragons geek, I don’t think his photo is a threat to anyone. (Coincidentally, the school mascot is a Minuteman carrying a musket – but a photo of that weapon is OK. Go figure.)
And my latest favorite: 13 year old Savanna, an honor student, is strip searched because she gave a classmate an aspirin. As the story states, sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference between a drug-warrior-administrator and a child molester. Drugs, weapons, physical contact, speech, dress code and conduct all have Zero Tolerance rules attached to them now. No wonder kids grow up to be so dysfunctional these days.
Now add to this the equally rampant “Self-Esteem Initiatives” so pervasive in schools, and you end up with truly screwed up kids. SEI’s are programs that “foster and nurture individual self-worth” and are based on the theory that kids should never be allowed to fail at anything. This includes allowing students to takes tests as many times as necessary to pass, not keeping score at sporting events, and never, ever ranking a child among his or her peers. Like Zero Tolerance, SEI’s create an environment that is completely inconsistent with how the real world works. Kids get out of high school utterly unprepared socially (and arguably academically) for the society they are entering.
Zero Tolerance teaches kids that there is no need for common sense or situational judgment. Not only do they not possess the skills needed to evaluate, assess or form educated opinions, they are explicitly taught– through the actions of school administrations– that such skills are unnecessary, and such judgments are inappropriate. Similarly, years of SEI indoctrination teaches kids that everybody is a winner, everyone is treated the same, and everyone is rewarded equally.
I blame most of this on lazy school boards and cowardly school administrators who have discovered that it’s just easier (on them, not the students) to implement Zero Tolerance rules. By doing so, they are not required to think or evaluate. They use Zero Tolerance as a shield and cower behind it when angry parents ask why their honor student was subjected to a cavity search for bringing a Tylenol to school.
These same lazy and cowardly ‘educators’ have also found it easier (on them, not the students) to do away with things like a grading system which, as everyone knows, is biased and unfairly calls attention to the deficiencies of some students. Rather, they just make everyone a winner so they won’t have to explain to Billy or his parents why as ninth grader he still cannot grasp the ‘yellow-and-blue-make-green’ concept. As an example, a local high school in my community had something in the neighborhood of 52 Valedictorians last year. These ‘educators’– who spend 90% of their time and effort perpetually whining that they are underpaid– do not seem to have the skills needed to open a dictionary and find the word ‘Valedictorian’.
Then the real world comes along and just beats the living shit out of the kids we have entrusted ‘educators’ to prepare. Perhaps this is why so many young adults are always grousing about the perceived ‘injustices’ perpetrated upon them, how ‘difficult’ they have it, and how the world has treated them ‘unfairly’. Maybe this is why they look to the government to “equalize” things for them again, to reassure them that their failure is not their responsibility, and to once again ensure that they are ‘winners’.
We have taught them to become dependent upon others– first the school system and then the government– to create an artificial environment whereby they have a right to the spoils of talent, hard work, good judgment and common sense even if they are unwilling to work for it, or incapable of achieving it.
Meanwhile, back at the Hall of Justice, Vanagram awaits the stimulus check he knows will never come…