The Wizard of Oz and Zero Tolerance Rules

According to the Southwest Middle School’s student handbook, students can receive a one-day out-of-school suspension for kissing, while students caught hugging or hand-holding are penalized with a dean’s detention or suspension.  School administrators, in an excellent although accidental  illustration of the underlying problem with this,  said a committee of parents approved the “no hugging” policy years ago, and there aren’t plans to change it any time soon.  Pure CMA or collectively COA ( The C standing for Cover) and BS( blame shifting is the new definition)

The school’s strict policy stipulates that there is no difference between an unwanted hug, sexual harassment, and a hug between friends. (just as I assume that under other zero tolerance policies in this district they also believe that there is no difference between a loaded Glock and a squirt gun or a plastic butter knife and a 6 inch switch blade and probably even what the meaning of “is” is).  I’d love to sit in on one of thier sex ed classes when the evils associated with hugging may be discussed.  As they apparently, like the Duggars, don’t have a clue about where babies come from or what causes them.   Christine Davis, spokesman for Brevard County School said the school’s “focus is on learning; therefore, we cannot discriminate or make an opinion on what is an appropriate hug, what’s not an appropriate hug,” said Davis. “What you may think is appropriate, another person may view as inappropriate.”(sort of like saying that they would be unable to tell the difference between Mother Theresa and Vlad The Impaler so both must be either accepted or excoriated) A teacher or administrator may wrongly believe that they are  not be able to define what an inappropriate hug looks like but like pornography most will recognize it when they see it.”

To determine the difference between inappropriate and appropriate behavior would require thinking and when you think instead of just following the rules someone may question your decision. And you might then have to “gasp” logically defend what you have done rather than referring to the much safer higher authority of the zero tolerance play book.

When school  administrators, and teachers refuse to make decisions and think creatively about student problems they abrogate their position of being learning leaders and teachers of thinking skills and become perveyors of the philosophy of  lock step ” rule slavery” that is paralyzing our politicians, governments, industry, schools, religions,  and almost all other creative thought in our society.

This faint-hearted refusal to take a chance on being wrong or being politically incorrect is a problem that permeates so much of our societies actions  today that I fear for our future.

As a middle school teacher I  had to make decisions on what is hugging,  snogging, mugging, and worse.  Did I like making those decisions and are there still some kids out there who can’t stand to even look at me because of some of the decisions I have made, certainly.   Decision making  is a part of the job and if you are going to be a teacher you have to accept the warts and the beauty marks that come with the territory but when we make zero tolerance rules we deny the fact that kids are the most wildly divergent parts of our society, to believe that you can make a one size fits all rule of any type, that works all the time, is pure bull hockey.

Almost all educational  zero tolerance policies should be renamed Wizard of Oz Policies because when you think about it, they are often cowardly,  often brainless and almost always totally heartless! The saddest part being that unlike the tin man, cowardly lion and scarecrow too few people and organizations seem to even realize that they have lost something and so see no reason to look for it.


About safrisri

I was a school teacher until retirement. I have taught at all educational levels from pre-school to college. My college degree is general science which I arrived at after 5 years and 5 different majors. A degree as it turns out, almost as valuable and in demand as one in Neo-Bulgarian Mythology. I have been around education for around 40 years and can remember when teaching was a pleasant, happy and creative job and our schools were the same. Now I'm the guy sitting on the porch with an opinion on everything.
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