Into the Valley of Education Rode the Food and Word Police


Pols on the right of them
Pols on the left of them
Pols in front of them……
Forward the Nanny Brigade
Was there a man dismayed
Not tho’ the teacher knew
Someone had blundered
Theirs not to make row
Theirs not to reason how
Theirs but to test or bow
Into the valley of education
Rode the Political Nanny Pols

My apologies to ALT, one of my favorite poets.
Two items were brought to my attention this week as they went viral on the internet.
State Inspectors Searching Children’s Lunch Boxes:
http://www.nccivitas.org/2012/state-inspectors-searching-childrens-lunch-boxes-this-isnt-china-is-it/

And then?

Arizona’s plan to fire teachers for swearing… outside the classroom

http://theweek.com/article/index/224434/arizonas-plan-to-fire-teachers-for-swearinghellip-outside-the-classroom

It seems that the Nanny State can be found on both sides of the political arena.
The first was a government food “nanny” in North Carolina who was apparently inspecting student’s sack lunches brought from home. Evaluating them and then apparently making non-negotiable changes to their parent’s choices by providing replacement or additional food to the child’s lunch without parental permission and at the parent’s expense. Seems so liberal democratic in nature: Let’s see … due process, unlawful search and seizure, equal protection, which federal statute could be enforced here… the answer is apparently none.
The nutrition police in our schools seem to be expanding their territory from the “obesity war,” to the balanced meal front. Even the weakest of leaders knows it’s not wise to open a war on two fronts if you wish to win either. I find it interesting from the article that what appeared to be to be a healthy meal prepared at home by the child’s parent was replaced by “chicken nuggets.” I have no real problem with schools and government supplementing or providing children’s lunches, when they are need based or at the parent/child’s choice for free, but I bristle that any government bureaucrat looking at a list of rules should be able to interpret what my child needs in total isolation from what may have happened at breakfast or will happen at dinner. Hot steamed asparagus just does not travel well in a lunch sack.
It would be interesting to find out exactly what the food inspector either had in their lunch sack or ate at lunch on the day this occurred.

The second item was a group of Arizona Pols No doubt on the Conservative side of the spectrum (schism is probably more accurate than spectrum now) who wish to control the language used by teachers in the classroom, their cars, their homes, fishing in Canada in their dreams and apparently even upon finding that someone used the last milk and left the empty carton in the refrigerator or finding out too late that there was only one last wisp of a sheet of toilet paper left on the role. I won’t even mention trying to put chains on the car tire in a freezing blinding snowstorm or attempting brush an unwilling dog’s teeth. Swearing in front of students is not smart and most teachers will avoid it, but at times it’s unavoidable for those of us not preparing for saint hood.
Spontaneous swearing in front of students is one thing swearing at them is another (although at times might often be warranted). My 6th grade teacher never swore in front of the class but seemed to be able to get the message across with the phrase, “You dirty little yellow gutter rats.”
One would ask where do the swear words start and stop? How about innuendo and unusual combos? Who will decide? Is “steak de burgo” a swear word to a PETA member? Would “you pig” qualify for children of some religious beliefs? Is the NCLB a swear word for some teachers , I do know that if you hang around schools enough you will heard it said with such dripping sarcasm that you will have little doubt if it is swearing or not.
Who will make up the list of banned swear words? My guess is a government flack who believes that, “ketchup” qualifies as a vegetable ,apple vinegar is a fruit and zymurgy should be banned because it just… well sounds “dirty.”
Will the spontaneity of the situation be taken into account when dealing with swearing in the classroom? For example one instance of my swearing in front of a class occurred when I, “used the word “damn”, under my breath, at least I thought it was under my breath but by the smiles in the class probably not. This particular swearing instance occurred when I managed to snap a rat trap on my thumb during preparation for a physics experiment on stored energy. If you have not had the pleasure of getting your thumb caught in a rat trap it is not unlike hitting your thumb with a hammer but the difference is that it is very difficult to get the rat trap back off your thumb when one of your thumbs is already caught in it. It’s not unlike looking for your glasses when you need your glasses to see what you are looking for.
Will many of the great books be banned,”including the Charge of the Light Brigade” which I butchered above, because they have swearing in them…. Jack London I am sure would swear at the very idea of this idea.
A whole new realm of “free speech,” enforcement will open up with the eventual application of this rule to coaches and coaching staffs. Lip readers will be employed in the stands and on opposing side lines at games to determine if any banned words have been used. At the college level the new government department of “lip service” will view all televised college football games checking for unheard but mouthed swear words from coaches (players will be exempt).

It should be noted here that as usual the onus is on the teachers and that there are no controls imposed by this law on what or when the children may swear. One man’s free speech is another heresy.

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About safrisri

I have been a teacher since 1971 and 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. My writings will reflect on my past mistakes and successes and what my students have taught me about education.
This entry was posted in education, Education Reform, humor, Political Correctness, politics, teaching, Uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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