Why Can’t Common Sense Replace Zero Tolerance?
- By David Cortman
- Posted Aug 30, 2012
- No Comments »
I continue to read reports about ridiculous actions taken by public school officials in response to a variety of issues dealing with students. There was the recent story about the 5 year old kindergarten student who had the audacity to wear a Michigan University t-shirt to school – in Oklahoma. He was forced to turn his shirt inside out because it violated “official school policy.” What policy, you may ask. The policy that bans students from wearing clothing “bearing the names or emblems of all professional and collegiate athletic teams,” except, of course, those located in Oklahoma. After all, they have to support the home teams.
Then there’s today’s report that a deaf student was told he couldn’t use sign language for his own name because his finger placement looked like a gun. Really.
And there’s the 5th grade student in California who was prohibited from performing to his song choice in a student talent show that took place at night where his family–along with the entire community–attended. Other students chose songs such as “Freak the Freak Out” and similar classics, but his was not allowed because it was “too religious.” The song “We Shine” supposedly violated the “policy” promoting the so-called “separation of church and state.” Yes, that again.
And let’s not forget about the high school student in Wisconsin that was told he had signed away his First Amendment rights when he decided to take an art class. Yes, that was a literal signature. He was punished when he included a small cross and the scripture reference to John 3:16 on one of his art assignments. After all, his drawing may be offensive to some, apparently even more offensive to school officials than the drawing of satan that was allowed.
How about we reeducate the educators and get rid of these zero tolerance policies. Let’s go back to a time where we were taught to actually use our brains, to think, to get the facts and make an informed, intelligent decision. A time when a student was not “establishing a religion” when he included a cross on his artwork or chose a religious song for the talent show; was not mimicking a gun when signing his name; or was not carrying a concealed “weapon” when his mom packed a butter knife to spread his peanut butter and jelly. A time when we learned how to think, and not what to think.
Will we ever get back there again? Public school officials are supposed to be educating our children. But some of them are making irrational and biased decisions based on policies that may be well-intentioned, but create more harm than good. No “policy” can cover every situation; let’s use our noggin to decide when its application is appropriate and when it is simply nonsensical. We should expect nothing less from our educators. Especially when it comes to our first freedom—Religious Liberty.
Author: David Cortman