Thursday, June 17, 2010

Zero Tolerance in Schools, except for the Police

Every day, I drive past a junior high school in my neighborhood. Every day that school is in session, there is a police car parked outside of the school. I mentioned this to my students at a local university last semester. It bothers me. They took it to be completely normal to have police present at schools.

Most of these students grew up in rural towns across Nebraska and Iowa. Why do taxpayers pay to have police present in schools? Is there no such thing as discipline anymore? In Nebraska, no student can ever be really expelled from a K-12 public school program. That is the problem.

Today I read this:

Mom: R.I. School Bans 8-Year-Old Son's Patriotic Hat With Army Figures

Published June 17, 2010


The hat 8-year-old David Morales designed for a school project in R.I.


A Rhode Island mother says her 8-year-old son's school would not let him wear a patriotic hat she says he designed for a project to honor Army troops because the school thought it was inappropriate.

Christan Morales says her son David was assigned to make a crazy hat for his second grade class at the Tiogue School in Coventry, R.I. Morales said her son came up with an idea to glue small plastic Army figures to a camouflage hat with an American flag.

Morales said the principal at David's school called her to say the hat wasn't appropriate because it had guns, which violated a school ban on weapons and toy weapons.

“We don’t advocate having any concept of weapons in the school,” Kenneth DiPietro, superintendent of Coventry Public Schools, told

“(David’s) military theme was all welcomed. The only issue was the weapons displayed on the hat.”

DiPietro said the intent of the principal was to allow the child the full expression of depicting the theme, but to help him find a way to express it without the presentation of weapons. He said the principal decided there were alternative ways to represent his theme.

“The principal’s concern was not the theme, not the patriotism and not the soldiers,” said DiPietro. “She worked with family to come up with alternatives so the child’s rights and patriotism was protected.”

Christan Morales has not returned’s request for comment.

After the incident, David’s father requested a copy of Coventry Public Schools’ zero-tolerance policy for weapons and depictions of weapons, DiPietro said.

DiPietro said the school hopes to learn from this incident and spend time deciding whether there should be a different strategy for handling such issues in the future.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

When my son was in kindergarten, he was sent to the principal's office of his Catholic school for making a gun with his index finder and thumb. Today when we talked about it again, 4 years later, he said, "I was saying hi to a gal," winked, made the gesture with his hand and made a clicking sound with his teeth. Then he told me that wasn't true, he really did make a gun with his hand.

A gun with his hand. The very idea that finger guns are unacceptable is a bit excessive. Why can't boys play cops and robbers, or cowboys and Indians, or galactic invaders? So the boy in Rhode Island wanted to honor the military, but the squishy members of the teachers' union can't handle normal discipline. Call in the Cops.

Is anyone else concerned we are on a slippery slope to a police state? If young people in their 20's now feel comfortable with daily police presence in school, what else will the tolerate?

I have no answers, but I see writing on the wall.
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