A first grader
was suspended for pointing a breaded chicken finger at a
teacher in Arkansas. Two second graders, in New Jersey,
were charged with making "terrorist threats" after
playing a game of cops-and-robbers with paper guns. A sixth
grade girl, in Georgia, was suspended for carrying a Tweety-bird
wallet with a thin 10-inch chain to class. The wallet was
judged to be a potential weapon…
What do all the
above examples have in common? They are very real circumstances,
and only a small sampling, that have occurred recently due
to a phrase that is sweeping the nations public schools,
and that phrase is "zero tolerance". So, what
is zero tolerance and what does it have to do with breaded
chicken fingers? Sit back, relax, enjoy and let the Beefboy
do what the Beefboy does best…and that's break it
right on down for you.
It was only three
years ago that Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold walked into
Columbine High School in Littleton Colorado and murdered
25 of their classmates in the worst school shooting in U.S.
history. A string of copycat shootings followed. Parents
and faculty rushed to deal with a seeming epidemic and enacted
a series of zero tolerance rules with all the grace and
forethought of a lifeguard dealing with a fecal incident
at the local community pool. In an effort to protect the
children of the nation, they created a set of rules so absolute
and so draconian that there would be no way this sort of
incident could ever happen again.
one problem. Zero tolerance would have done nothing, in
any of the school shooting cases, to prevent the massacre
from happening. Zero tolerance is a "feel good"
policy that doesn't contribute anything to actually solving
the issue of violence in school. It's easy to blame the
faculty and administration of our schools for creating this
mess, so let's start there.
absolves school faculty and staff from any responsibility
or any debate on the relevance of any offence. Frankly the
educators of the nation are running scared from the parents,
the media, and perhaps most important, the lawyers, who
question their decisions. If there is no debate, if there
is zero tolerance, then there are no grounds for fault.
Mind you, we've taken away any corporal punishment that
could bring order to the class and we've beaten down any
attempt by the educators to deal with unruly kids, so naturally,
with their backs against the wall, our teachers say, "Fine.
If you give us all the responsibility and no power to back
it up then we rule with zero tolerance and let the chips
fall where they may." This effectively puts the onus
back on the parents.
See, it's easy
to point to faculty and administration of public schools
and tell them to deal with violence in schools but they
are dealing with our kids. If those kids are not disciplined
by the time they head off to school and we tie the hands
of the educators, then how are they supposed to deal with
this situation? The fact is, that violence in the schools
are the responsibility of the parents who create these little
creatures and don't take the time to monitor and discipline
their progeny, and meanwhile, work against the schools who
try to do something about it.
In the case of
Columbine, Harris and Klebold were making bombs, let me
repeat that…BOMBS, in one of their basements. They
walked straight into Columbine and started shooting. They
didn't hide their weapons and carry them around during lunchtime;
they assaulted Columbine like an Al-Qaida hideout. No zero
tolerance rules would have stopped this assault. It wouldn't
even have served as a warning. Let the Beefboy ask you this
question; do you think it's the fault of Columbine High
School or Harris and Klebold's parents, that they were making
bombs in their own basement?
When the litigious
happy American Bar Association says of zero tolerance, "Theories
of punishment that were once directed to adult criminals
are now applied to first-graders, resulting in thousands
of unnecessary expulsions and suspensions," then it's
high time to scuttle that rule. Furthermore, if you want
to truly deal with violence in school then restore capital
punishment and give the teachers some bite with their bark.
Finally, take some responsibility for your own kids! If
a kid is a killer, it's the parent's fault. Deal with that.