What’s with all the oh-so-easily-freaked-out adults these days? It seems like hardly a week passes by without some new story hitting the news about how yet another clueless public school Barney Fife administrator, teacher, or bus driver freaks out over a minor or even completely innocuous infraction committed by a student and proceeds to suspend the hapless child from school or metes out some other ludicrously out of proportion punishment as a reprisal.
What’s going on? I thought grownups with common sense were running the show in our public schools.
For example, last week, two middle school boys in Ohio passed gas on the bus while on the way to school. A bunch of kids laughed. No big whoop, right? Wrong. The bus drive decided to make a stink about the prank and summarily suspended the boys from riding the bus to school because they were guilty of making “an obscene gesture.” He claims he had warned them before not to break wind again. They did. So, they got thrown off the bus.
There are many other examples of such daffy adult overreactions. Consider, for example, Alexa,
. . .a 12 year old student in New York. She wrote with a green marker on her desk, “I love my friends Abby and Faith. Lex was here 2/1/10 :)” Because of a zero tolerance policy, she was cuffed and marched out of the classroom in front of her peers. She was taken to the police station across the street.
Or how about a Bonnie Eagle high school senior who, blew a kiss to his family and pointed to friends during the commencement ceremony as he walked up to receive his diploma. Punchline: The goofy principle was so outraged that, in retaliation, the graduating senior’s diploma was denied him.
There are plenty of examples of this kind of inane overreaction by school principles and suchlike adults who can’t seem to respond to situations with basic common sense. The old proverb comes to mind: “If the only tool you have is a hammer, you will treat every problem as if it were a nail.”
All of which causes me to ask in exasperation: When will these Adults In Charge put down their hammers, take a deep breath, think things through, and just grow up?
P.S. Since I predict that some might be tempted to remind me of Columbine and the need for strict rules of behavior in schools, let me duly note that, yes, I remember the Columbine tragedy and the many other heinous acts of violence committed at schools across the country. They are not relevant to the category of juvenile misbehavior that these administrators I’m talking about have been wildly overreacting to. The way I see it, the notion that they are “simply trying to protect the kids” doesn’t apply to the kinds of
zero-tolerance zero-thought overreactions I’m talking about in this blog post.