Mindless Custodians

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Regarding yesterday's post (and my comment that my wife had gotten a decent education in public schools), a reader noted the following:

... One of the saving graces of American public education that's being progressively destroyed pretty much on principle ever since the Department of Education was created is that it used to be heavily decentralized, which allowed a great deal of independence in teachers to flourish.
The principal in New Zealand I mentioned, who threw out a silly rule book so his students could play during recess, would, I am sure, have the book thrown at him here. But in case anyone needed examples of this problem, A. Barton Hinkle recently wrote a piece replete with them. (He starts with a student facing disciplinary action for possession of a dangerous object. Said student was a girl who stopped another from "cutting" herself -- and then discarded the razor to avoid falling afoul of her school's mindless "zero tolerance" policy on dangerous objects.) Hinkle notes of such incidents and the fact that schools have been "rethinking" such policies for well over a decade:
It's great that a school district here and there has second thoughts about first-strike policies. But that doesn't solve the broader problem, which is rooted in a bureaucratic compliance mentality. Just ask Chaz Seale, a Texas 17-year-old who accidentally shoved a Coors into his brown-bag lunch instead of a soda. When he realized his mistake he gave the unopened beer to a teacher. The teacher told the principal, and the principal suspended Seale for three days and sentenced him to two months at an alternative school.
So, in our public schools, we're increasingly not just teaching our kids that the real world is dangerous, but acclimating them to one that actually is: one in which mindless bureaucrats wield unchecked power over them. Worrisome to me is the fact that I wasn't particularly looking for an article like Hinkle's, any more than I was the one I discussed yesterday.

-- CAV

No comments: