Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Let us discuss stupidity in the education system, and

from the mouths of experts.
Zachary’s offense? Taking a camping utensil that can serve as a knife, fork and spoon to school. He was so excited about recently joining the Cub Scouts that he wanted to use it at lunch. School officials concluded that he had violated their zero-tolerance policy on weapons, and Zachary was suspended and now faces 45 days in the district’s reform school.
The kid is six years old.

I've said this about 'zero-tolerance' policies before: they're too often not for the safety of the kids, they're so the bureaucrats running the schools don't have to think. So they don't have to take responsibility for a decision. For instance,
Still, some school administrators argue that it is difficult to distinguish innocent pranks and mistakes from more serious threats, and that the policies must be strict to protect students.

“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,” said George Evans, the president of the Christina district’s school board. He defended the decision, but added that the board might adjust the rules when it comes to younger children like Zachary
Well, if you have a working brain it's not hard to distinguish something like this from a 'serious threat', you moron. And don't you love the wording innocent pranks and mistakes from more serious threats ? Even a mistake is a 'serious threat' to these people. And speaking of not wanting to think and take responsibility,
For Delaware, Zachary’s case is especially frustrating because last year state lawmakers tried to make disciplinary rules more flexible by giving local boards authority to, “on a case-by-case basis, modify the terms of the expulsion.”

The law was introduced after a third-grade girl was expelled for a year because her grandmother had sent a birthday cake to school, along with a knife to cut it. The teacher called the principal — but not before using the knife to cut and serve the cake
Yeah, must have been real hard to distinguish this from a 'more serious threat', huh?

You have some of the standard excuses for zero-brainzero-tolerance policies, namely "If they have discretion they'll be bigots and abuse some students." Speaking of not wanting to think and take reseponsibility,
“The result of those studies is that more school districts have removed discretion in applying the disciplinary policies to avoid criticism of being biased,” said Ronnie Casella, an associate professor of education at Central Connecticut State University who has written about school violence. He added that there is no evidence that zero-tolerance policies make schools safer.
“Something has to change,” said Dodi Herbert, whose 13-year old son, Kyle, was suspended in May and ordered to attend the Christina district’s reform school for 45 days after another student dropped a pocket knife in his lap. School officials declined to comment on the case for reasons of privacy.

And now we come to the expert I mentioned:
Charles P. Ewing, a professor of law and psychology at the University at Buffalo Law School who has written about school safety issues, said he favored a strict zero-tolerance approach.

“There are still serious threats every day in schools,” Dr. Ewing said, adding that giving school officials discretion holds the potential for discrimination and requires the kind of threat assessments that only law enforcement is equipped to make
Yep. Only the cops are equipped to decide that the knife sent to cut the cake isn't a threat. Or that the kid excited over something new isn't trying to stab someone. Need special training for that, y'know. Especially if you're an expert.

I once heard 'expert' defined as "An idiot from out of town who has a briefcase." Professor Ewing would seem to prove that.

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