Saturday, January 5, 2013

Girl Still Suspended For Writing Newtown Poem

As far as I could determine via Google News, a San Francisco high school student who was suspended at least a week ago is still out of the classroom, and it looks like she might be about to be expelled from school.

The problem: She wrote a poem saying she "understands" the Newtown school massacre. She doesn't support the shooting, wouldn't shoot anybody, wouldn't hurt anybody. But she did write a dark poem about the sad event. 
Courtni Webb faces expulsion from school for
writing a poem about the Newtown massacre.

The school decided that this poem is a threat to the students and everybody else at the school and kicked her out.

One of the more supposedly scary lines in student Courtni Webb's poem was this:

"I understand the killings in Connecticut. I know why he pulled the trigger. Why are we oppressed by a dysfunctional community of haters and blamers?"

As Webb notes, she didn't say she was going to do anything violent. She points out that famed horror writer Steven King writes about some pretty disturbing and violent stuff, and nobody thinks he'll go off the deep end and turn into a mass murderer.

Seems to me like Webb is doing what a lot of young people do: Explore other people's dark emotions to understand their own mentality. It's the same reason why teens drive their parents crazy listening to noisy, loud, and lyrically incorrect music.

But as SF Weekly reports:

"But after the tragedy in Newtown, Conn., schools like Life Learning Academy aren't taking its chances. The academy has a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to the threat of violence. A "violation of any one of these rules can result in dismissal from school."

I can see a school not taking chances on somebody making threats, but really. Sometimes these zero tolerance rules are an excuse for school administrators to exercise absolutely no critical thinking.

Maybe the administrators at the school could take the time to do some basic fact finding. Did they talk to Webb after finding the poem? If so, what did she say? Had she ever displayed disturbing behavior?  Her mother and several other people have publicly said Webb seems to be a pretty well adjusted kid.

If it turned out Webb was a little off her rocker, would just expelling her solve the problem? Probably not. Expelling her would be an easy way to just say she's not the school's problem. But that would make her somebody else's problem.

Quite a good way to teach responsibility, huh?

Speaking of responsibility, what message does this tell the other students at the school? I might be naive, but I thought students are supposed to ask questions, try opinions and philosophies and lessons on for size, to see if they make sense. It's called learning. Something that's supposed to go on in schools, remember?

The message the school seems to be sending is, shut up. Just do what we tell you do to, "learn" by rote, and for God sakes, DO NOT engage in critical thinking.

Gives you real hope for the future, doesn't it?


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