Zero Tolerance and the Never-Ending Lockdown in America’s Public Schools

Why are we using police power to terrorize children who don’t realize they are violating school rules when they bring objects to school rational people don’t consider weapons ? A folding comb? A camping eating utensil? Their fingers? Where has common sense gone when we use police to arrest children for these offenses instead of using them on the streets where real criminals are using real guns to kill innocent people. Mass murders aren’t committed with folding combs or fingers or even the unmoving guns in the hands of miniature toy soldiers in play sets.

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Zero Tolerance and the Never-Ending Lockdown in America’s Public Schools.

Jason Pinning Me at Court of Honor
Jason Pinning Me at Court of Honor. Yes, he owed the camping eating tool that included a knife.

This is the kind of thing that will make actual criminals out of innocent students. Take the case of Zachary Christie mentioned in this article. He is six years old and a Cub Scout, learning to be a good citizen. He innocently brought a camping utensil to school that’s an all-in-one knife, fork and spoon to be used for eating. For this offense he was sentenced to serve 45 days in reform school. I’d wager that will be a much worse influence on him than a Boy Scout camping trip. He’ll probably learn how to commit real crimes, disrespect authority, etc.

We’ve known for a long time that legislators on the state and federal level have been short on common sense, but it appears this lack of common sense also exists in public school administrators. I’ll bet a lot of them played cops and robbers (or violent video games) when they were young. In fact, if we want to prevent  gun violence, maybe those violent video games are a great thing to make unavailable for children. If the first amendment keeps those legal, maybe the second amendment can at least keep fingers and harmless guns on play figures that can’t even move legal.

A common sense approach would be that students who probably didn’t realize the items administrators find offensive  were considered weapons be informed and warned . Parents should then be called to the office and have it explained to them, and then have the parents come get the item with instructions never to let it come to school again. Things that are normally not thought of as weapons that are forbidden on campus should be listed on the school website that parents use for school policy information. The list should also be on a note sent home at the beginning of the year. Students should also be informed in their classrooms the first day of school and again about once a month.

Meanwhile, while the police are being called to drag these young and probably unintentional offenders from their classrooms, they are not available to track down the real criminals on the streets who are killing each other with real guns. Where have our priorities gone? Where has our common sense gone?  No wonder children aren’t learning critical thinking skills in some schools. Teachers can’t teach what they don’t have.

Maybe the idea is to label these children as terrorists now so they will never be allowed to own a gun when they grow up.  Then they won’t be able to protect their family someday from a real terrorist or common criminal breaking into their home.

Do We Want a Future Of Instant Connections and Without Email?

Do we really want to do away with email in intra-company communications and replace it with instant communication?

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I used to work in this office occasionally back in the 1970’s, in the days before computers were on every desk and hardly anyone used the Internet for anything. You walked over to someone to speak to him personally and you used the phone to talk to someone outside the store. It worked.

Barbara Gago envisions a completely different business environment to evolve by the next decade. She sees email being dead on a business network and being replaced with instant communication and video communication on enterprise social networks.

She sees more people working at home on their computers, making an office environment unnecessary. I can go along with that. I can also understand that a company CEO or manager might want to communicate by video with employees rather than calling everyone to be physically at a meeting. That saves time and energy for everyone involved.

What I’d personally find difficult is the instantaneous nature of this proposed network communication. If it doesn’t come by email, how does it come? Instant messaging? Will it be a constant barrage of dings on the computer screen as different people in the organization decide they have something important to say that must be said immediately? I can’t see all those interruptions encouraging productivity, since they break concentration as employees try to perform tasks. Nothing makes me crazier now when I’m trying to write or calculate or work in Quickbooks than hearing a ringing phone (that’s probably a sales person) or the ding of someone instant messaging me just to say “Hi.”

Another thing I don’t like about instant communication is that it allows little time to think over what one will say before sending or responding to the message. I’m guessing much will be said that would not be said if one had to walk to someone’s desk to say it, or even make a call. Each of us thinks what we have to say is important. The question I have is whether it’s all important enough to interrupt someone with, or whether it could wait until that someone is ready to check email during the next hour. Everything important is not necessarily urgent.

What do you think?

National Constitution Week is September 17-23

Is your school in compliance with Public Law 108-447, which requires any school which receives federal funding of any kind to have an educational program teach the Constitution during National Constitution Week, September 17-23? Here are some suggestions for easy compliance.

We the People: Exploring the U.S. Constitution
We the People: Exploring the U.S. Constitution

In 2004 Public Law 108-447 came into being requiring each school that receives Federal Funding in the United States to hold a special program on the Constitution on September 17. This year this it happens to be a Saturday, but you can pick any day between September 17 and September 23, which is designated as National Constitution Week. Has your school decided how to implement this program yet? 

If you’d like a quick and easy solution that will fulfill the requirements, I have a suggestion. The National Center for Constitutional Studies has produced a curriculum for National Constitution Week  that complies with the law’s requirement. Its main component is the DVD, A More Perfect Union – America Becomes a Nation, a two-hour movie which brings the Constitutional Convention to life. I saw it myself, and it was easy to follow the issues and controversies that were part of the process of putting the Constitution together.  After seeing this movie, the Constitution will no longer be a “dead” document, but the result of men trying to lay the best possible foundation for the United States of America. Your students will learn how and why the Constitution was written.

The entire curriculum package includes a teacher guide , posters of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, the DVD of the movie, and an individual pocket-sized copy of the Constitution. For a limited time, schools can order this entire package for only $19.95 plus shipping . It’s an opportunity your school should take advantage of , especially if you don’t have a curriculum for National Constitution Week in place yet. 

If you would like to go into more detail on the history, founders, and issues of the Constitution, click on the picture of the We the People book above, which is found at Barb’s Teaching help, my e-commerce website. It also contains vocabulary activities, a series of critical and creative thinking activities, and a list of additional resources.

Be aware that the local chapters of the Tea Party Patriots will be monitoring schools, as part of their “Adopt a School” program,  to see if they are going to comply with the law. They might be contacting your school district to see what you are planning to do. They also might be letting the media know if you are in compliance or not, since they are very interested in citizens being educated about the Constitution.

If you aren’t in school any more or connected to a school, but still want to see this movie, the DVD alone is currently on sale (as I write this) for only $9.95 at the web site linked to above. I saw the movie with a group of my neighbors in a home, and that’s a very good setting, as it allows friends and neighbors to discuss it informally afterwards. Enjoy!