Saturday, June 16, 2012

School Punishment Follies

Geez, I'm glad school administrators aren't supervising me.

Now that school's pretty much done for the summer, I've collected some of the worst examples of school discipine out there. Just for fun.

I've done so because I have problems with a lot of zero tolerance policies that schools maintain. I get it that they're important to keep kids safe and to provide clear, understandable rules for the kiddies.

Where we run into trouble is at the minority of schools where administrators have no common sense, and no sense of perspective.  It's amazing that some adults who should be in charge can't make the distinction between, say, a butter knife accidentally left in a backpack and brought to school vs. a cache of grenades and automatic weapons that would make a Third World army proud. These bad administrators don't see the difference.

In one  example, a girl was deemed to slutty, I guess, because her outfit was supposedly provocative, according to the girl's dad, who luckily for us is a blogger (Adult Onset Atheist) and went on about this extensively.

You can see her photo in this post so judge for yourself.

 I dunno. She seems fine to me. A simple outfit. Worn on a warm day, so it is a skirt/short sleeve shirt combination. Fashionable enough. But slutty and too revealing? Um, she's wearing standard business casual clothes, the kind you see in any office, any day.  But what do I know about fashion and sluts?

The principal who called the girl on being dressed "inappropriately" seems creepy to me, if you think about it. Says the father/blogger:

"It turns out that the principal himself had personally identified her as inappropriately dressed. He had walked up to her during lunchtime and identified her crime where nobody else could. I can’t help but think that the principal’s action creates an unhealthy atmosphere in his school. What does it say to the teachers who had her in class earlier in the day, and not noticed her inappropriate dress? Will there be punitive actions taken against the teachers who could not look at my daughter with perversion in their eyes?"

The dad suspects that because this high school is rural and in a conservative district, women need to be kept in their place. Says the blogger, again: (AOD is the girl's initials)

Tooele offered her the choice of social dance or seminary. Social dance requires that girls wear high heals, and AOD is 6 feet tall in her stocking feet. My girls have a history of trying to excel beyond the bounds of what girls should be capable of. They succeed in excelling beyond the bounds of what normal humans are capable of. They certainly exceed both my capability and expectation.

One commentor on the blog post was obviously a school administrator, and offered up this reasoning, from the perspective of the school.

Parents, PLEASE, support your school administration! For ONCE!!! Yes, the outfit looks quite appropriate compared to what we are generally subjected to on a daily basis in public schools. And why are we subjected to this much worse form of dress? Because parents like THIS BLOGGER question administrators and teachers constantly. You took a picture and posted it? And wrote an entire article? And then bashed how junior high students are treated? Seriously? This is what you do with your time? You have NO IDEA why our rules are in place, the corrosive nature of your actions, or how hard we work every day to make junior high students feel good about themselves and valued. You have no idea how we are constantly attacked by students and teachers who don't agree with what a teacher or administrator has done. YOU are the reason our schools have no recourse when students break rules. Yes, it seems silly, but evidently your child was not complying with a rule. Have you ever tried to enforce a dress code in a school? Back off on one inch, and then skirts inch up another and another. Back off 1/4 inch on a shirt strap, and then they get thinner and thinner and turn into camis and bra tops. BACK UP THE SCHOOL FOR ONCE, PARENTS! STOP THINKING YOU KNOW BETTER and that your chidl's civil rights and dignity are being violated just because a decision inconveniences you and you don't agree with it.

So, no matter how stupid the ruling, we have to support it or all the other reasonable rules will go out the window somehow?  Exactly how does all this make kids "feel good about themselves and valued.?"Do we teach kids that we should blindly follow any rule, no matter how boneheaded, without having the right to legally and ethically challenge the rule? Do we really want to raise kids who don't question unfair and unjust laws?   Well, some people do, if those unjust and unfair laws favor them, I guess.

  Meanwhile, in North Carolina, a social studies teacher, who should know better, said a kid who was criticizing President Obama must Shut Up Now, or would end up in jail for the comments, according to an article in the Salisbury, N.C. Post and later picked up by other media.
You are free to criticize this guy if you want, despite
what a North Carolina social studies teacher says.

Said the teacher: “Do you realize that people were arrested for saying things bad about Bush?” she says of former President Bush. “Do you realize you are not supposed to slander the president?” 

Um, no. You can criticize a president's policies and actions as long as you offer no threats to him or her.  At least the student had it right. We pick up the story again from the Salisbury Post:

The student responds by saying being arrested for talking badly about the president would violate the right to free speech.
“You would have to say some pretty f’d up crap about him to be arrested,” he says. “They cannot take away your right to have your opinion. ... They can’t take that away unless you threaten the president.”

So maybe the kid should get the job of social studies teacher and the teacher should go back to school, no?

Now we go to Houston, where one Diane Tran, 17, got into Big Trouble for skipping school.  As well she should. She got 24 hours in the slammer because she played hooky.

Oh, wait. There's mitigating circumstances! Turns out her parents bailed, she has to work all night, take care of her siblings, then go to school without ANY sleep.  Nobody bothered to tell the judge who sent her to jail these little issues.
Diane Tran did miss school, but nobody paid
attention to her (very good) excuse.

Shouldn't the school have tried to figure out why such a bright girl who was taking AP classes was suddenly blowing off school? No, it doesn't matter! She was blowing off school. The reasons are none of the school's business!

Luckily, when the full story came out, the judge dismissed the charges and an advocacy group raised $100,000 to help the poor girl out. 

Finally, we learn that students can get in trouble even if they behave perfectly, but their relatives don't. In Ohio, a school withheld diplomas from some graduating seniors because their families cheered too boisterously during the graduation ceremony.

Now, I can see why there's a rule for the audience to keep it in their sneaker a little bit. We all want to hear the names of our beloved graduates being called, and we don't want Mr. and Mrs. Loud drowning out our little darlings' moment of glory.

But punish the kids whose deafening family disrupts things.  By that logic, if my sibling was a mass murderer, I should go to jail too because I know her?

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