Archive for October 12th, 2009

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Common Sense Is Wholly Uncommon for School District

By Jerry A. Kane

A Delaware first grader fails to consider the serious consequences of his innocent action and has been suspended by school administrators. He now faces 45 days in the district’s reform school having been found guilty of violating the school’s zero-tolerance weapons policy by a disciplinary committee.

Six-year-old Zachary Christie was so proud of being a Cub Scout that he decided to take his camping utensil to school and use it to eat lunch. When he got off the bus a teacher asked him what he was holding in his hand, so he showed her the utensil and explained why he brought it. The teacher confiscated the utensil and gave it to the principal, unleashing the whirlwinds of political correctness.

As a student, Zachary has advanced math skills and reads above grade level. He is a Cub Scout who plays Little League Baseball, studies martial arts, belongs to a church youth group, and attends school activities, including the talent show, the science fair, and the PTA Art Contest, where he won first place for his film, “What Is My Job?”

The District’s code of conduct bans knives “regardless of possessor’s intent,” leaving school administrators no choice but to automatically suspend him. Residents question why administrators blindly follow such policies without using discretion for each case individually. But school officials contend that it’s hard to distinguish innocent mistakes from serious threats and their strict policies protect students.

Critics argue that student protection is a two-way street. Zero-tolerance policies have expelled kids to the streets or to institutions where their behaviors exacerbate. The “collateral damage” from the District’s zero tolerance policy has resulted in innocent children being alternatively placed in The Douglass School, a reform school for juvenile delinquents with severe behavioral problems convicted of rape, assault and battery, concealing a deadly weapon, and drug offenses.

While critics contend that zero-tolerance policies undermine the use of common sense in handling minor infractions, school board President, George Evans, defends the committee’s decision and the weapons’ policy.  

“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,” Evans said.

The Columbine and Virginia Tech shootings have driven many of the nation’s school districts to adopt zero-tolerance policies for weapons on school grounds that have gone too far. What equivalence is there between a six year-old first grader and 17 and 18 year-old high school students or a 23 year-old college student?

How is showing off a combination knife, fork, and spoon camping utensil at school comparable to brandishing a Glock 19 and Walther P22, or a sawed off 12-gauge pump shotgun, 995 carbine rifle, TEC-DC9, and sawed off double-barrel shotgun?

Perhaps a better question is what indoctrination method or fluid is being given to education majors in graduate school to produce so many irrational, politically correct teachers and administrators? Obviously, something has sapped their common sense or they wouldn’t attempt to justify such absurd disciplinary actions.  

Concerned citizens who would like to offer Evans and the school board a bit of common sense, a meeting is scheduled for Tuesday October 13, 2009 at 7:30 p.m. at Porter Road Elementary School, 500 Caledonia Way, Bear, Delaware; for those who like to make their views known, Zachary’s parents have created a website with phone numbers and e-mail addresses of administrators and board members.

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