*~*All Organic - All The Time*~*

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Zero Tolerance

While I'm complaining about schools...


Back on my old MySpace Blog is the tale of my son, Blake's, felonious assault. Which actually ended up being reduced to something non-felonious. And considering what really happened, it should have just gone to mediation, and would have if my ex had been on the ball. Anyway, Blake's on probation, now, they imposed a curfew, and he has X hours of community service to do. He hasn't been in school since he was expelled, however. Apparently, my ex is having a heck of a time finding a school that will take him.

When I ask Blake what he does all day, he says, "I sleep and do chores." Do I believe him? Sure. And bigfoot is living in my backyard. With four game systems, a computer in the house and little to no adult supervision? I don't think so.

The ex hasn't called me once about anything. Including the original incident. Blake has basically kept me up to date about what's going on--which means I'm getting a filtered twelve-year-old's version of the truth. In fact, I just learned this weekend that Blake is finally back in school. The ex didn't bother to let me know that, either.

When Blake was here visiting last, he mentioned that he might have to be homeschooled because they couldn't find any schools in the area that would accept him. Public schools were out, of course. He was expelled from public school, and according to them, he had to be out of the district for 180 days before they would allow him back. So the ex and his new wife were on the phone looking for a school, and having so many problems finding one that they were even considering the last resort: homeschooling!

No, I didn't call the ex to remind him that, at one time, I begged him to let me homeschool the oldest two. I didn't ask him, "How many hours is your new wife going to spend homeschooling our son? Because when you told me you wouldn't allow your children to be homeschooled, you said it would require at least 6-8 hours a day per child." (That estimate was so far off base he wasn't even in the park anymore...) No, I didn't ask him if he was worried that our son would turn into some uneducated freak (which is what the ex claimed all the homeschooled kids he ever knew turned into.)

I just laughed at the irony... Blake was going to be homeschooled, and I was putting the little ones in public school.

Turns out, though, they did finally find a school. The ex was getting so frustrated, Blake said his dad finally threw up his hands and claimed, "I'm going to go down to that school board and tell them they can find a school for him! I pay taxes. They're the ones responsible for making sure my child gets an education. They're the ones who kicked him out, so they can find a suitable replacement!"

But I guess he didn't have to. Blake says he really likes his new school. There are only fifteen kids in his class (which is a better ratio than the little ones have in kindergarten! Theirs are 23:1 and 24:1!) It's an adjunct program in another school district (forty minutes or so away from their house, I guess) that was developed specifically because of these types of situations. These are all kids that have been kicked out of other schools because of their "zero tolerance" policies.

Meaning, for the most part, these aren't really bad kids. The stories I'm hearing about who is getting kicked out of school and why is beyond me. In Blake's case, just how can a government instituted "zero tolerance" policy extend beyond the bounds of the government institution in the first place?

It's rather strange and twisted when you think about it. When I was in school, you had to do something really bad to get suspended. Now they're suspending kindergarteners. No joke! When I was in school, to get expelled... you practically had to kill someone. Now, because of "zero tolerance," you can accidentally take a pocket knife to school, pull it out and show your friends off school property, and still get expelled.


And it's only getting worse, not better. Since the "Bong Hits For Jesus" ruling by SCOTUS, schools seem to have gotten the nudge they wanted toward enforcing their in loco parentis rules, even when the "offending" student isn't technically within their authority. So because Blake was still walking home from school and hadn't quite reached his doorstep, the school had the right to expel him for an event that didn't occur during school hours or on school property? If Blake had stepped inside his door, come right back out, and then discovered the knife, would they have been able to expel him then?

When you look at the suspension rates going up in schools, when there are charter schools developing specifically to deal with the problem of educating the amount of children getting expelled due to zero tolerance policies, the question you have to ask is... are kids really getting so much worse, or is something else going on?

What came first, the chicken or the egg? It seems to me that the paranoia that has taken hold in schools is incredibly toxic and damaging. Fear has taken over rationality and schools are applying some twisted King Solomon judgment to every case, without any regard to individual circumstances. In other words, they're cutting babies in half, again and again and again, without even questioning anyone involved.

And my baby just happened to be one of the victims vivisected by public schools.

I was reading a discussion about the Bong Hits for Jesus case and came across this frightening argument:

The principal is charged with enforcing school rules. That's her job. Who else has an opinion that matters? Students? Should the inmates get to vote on the policies set forth by the warden? American schools exist to educate students about democracy, not to practice

Wow. Indeed.

Students are inmates, principals are wardens. It's rather an apt metaphor.

And that last... Schools exist to educate about democracy, not to practice it.

What student, not given normal human consideration, not allowed their basic human rights, is going to later give that consideration to someone else? What, then, are we really teaching kids?

If we're instructing them in the basics of democracy, but instead of practicing those tenets in their environment, we implement an authoritarian dictatorship, we are going to create an entire generation who can't think for themselves and, while they may give lip service to freedom and liberty and democracy, will constantly be looking for some parental figure to tell them what to do...

Because everyone knows...

Children don't do as you say...

They do as you do.

1 comment:

Amy said...

You've been tagged! :) Go to my blog and read the rules!

Yes, I'm lame, but it's better than a chain letter or a recipe chain or all the other random stuff!