I've read many articles about INSANE decisions by various officials in various public schools in various states. Today I read one which, in certain respects tops them all.
It's about a high school honor student, soon to begin applying for scholarships and college admission. His school has a "Zero Tolerance" policy on weapons possession, including knives with blades longer than 3".
The student drove his father's car to school and parked in the school parking lot. In a random "lockdown" search, officials selected that car, perhaps amongst others too, and asked the student for permission to search it. He agreed instantly. When asked if there was anything they might find, he told them they might find some snuff, cuz it's his Dad's car, and his Dad uses snuff sometimes. Well, they found a fishing knife in an unspecified place in the car. In the trunk? Under a seat? Between two seat cushions? We don't know. What we do know, is that this was his Dad's car, which he had permission to use, and that HIS DAD IS A COMMERCIAL FISHERMAN.
No way THAT could be the explanation for the fishing knife, right?
The boy was suspended for 10 days, and faces a felony charge. Conviction would ruin his chances for admission to college and for obtaining scholarships. He has never before had to be disciplined severely enough even for a visit to the principal's office.
The article can be read at this site:
Here's my take on this insanity:
"Zero Tolerance" is a phrase which was originally posted in the workplace, in many manufacturing firms. It was meant to remind the employees that they should strive to make NO errors -- ie, the two words were an "abbreviation" for "Zero Tolerance for Errors.". This originated, I believe, in firms making products upon which people's lives would depend. Whether its origin was during WW2 or the early era of our space program, I don't know. Either way, this reminder to be extra conscientious has been adopted by the "politically correct" goon squads of the fascistic lefties who run, amongst other places, the educational system. It is no longer a reminder of team spirit and the critical importance of their efforts, but has been twisted into a thinly disguised threat of mandatory severe penalties for violations of various "politically correct" rules. From an American-invented rallying cry of encouragement and "solidarity" amongst a team of proud and free American workers with a common purpose, "ZERO TOLERANCE" has be re-fashioned by the liberal/progressive fascists into a threat of inescapable punishment far more harsh than the "crime" deserves -- FOR CHILDREN, FORCED BY LAW TO SPEND ALMOST HALF THEIR WAKING HOURS SUBJECTED TO THIS KIND OF AN "EDUCATIONAL" ENVIRONMENT. In this case, "ZERO TOLERANCE" means: you can be punished at any time, it is an axe hanging over your head which may be dropped upon you REGARDLESS OF EXTENUATING CIRCUMSTANCES, REGARDLESS OF YOUR INNOCENCE OR GUILT. Despite the boy's explanation that it must be his Dad's knife, it didn't matter to the liberals' version of the Gestapo. "The fact remains it was in your possession" was their reply. What if someone other student had planted it on him for a juvenile joke? It seems pretty clear that wouldn't have been an exonerating excuse either. "ZERO TOLERANCE" means "no excuses," no other facts will be considered. Only the facts the liberal school officials want considered.
This can turn school into a NIGHTMARE-LIKE existence for students, who fear arbitrary punishment which could be meted out even to the innocent, based on MINDLESS ENFORCEMENT of rules, in the total absence of ANY consideration of the FULL CONTEXT -- which means the absence of consideration of THE RELEVANT FACTS. RULES acquire a life of their own, ABOVE THE REALITY THE STUDENTS ARE LIVING IN. You are guilty if you are "caught" in what technically appears to be a violation of a rule.
In that environment, angels can be condemned to hell, and devils be allowed to reside in heaven. Whenever the students' world seems rational, it's just a temporary happenstance. It can become totally irrational again the next moment. A student is no longer in control of his life, which may be determined by a random event out of his control at any time. What is the point of trying hard, if everything can be taken from you via a bolt from the blue over which you had no control? All your good behavior and hard work will NOT BE ALLOWED as evidence in your defense. Extenuating circumstance that prove your innocence will NOT BE ALLOWED. In a world where avoiding getting caught is your only defensive option against punishment that lurks around every corner, where innocence and a clean record mean nothing, what are the incentives? ANSWER: To dispense all concern with the relevant facts, and with truth -- which means REALITY -- and focus your energy on "putting one over on reality" -- which means: lying, sneaking, cheating, and doing whatever you feel as long as you can learn and develop the best techniques against getting caught that you are able to. This is why, when I said just above that it has to be a nightmarish existence for many students, I meant it LITERALLY.
As many Americans are aware, the performance of our public school students as compared to those of other developed nations has, in very recent decades, gone so far down from #1 that it's near last place. I recall reading about this, and that we had fallen into 17th place, which I remember clearly, out of 22 (it may have been 23 or 21, but I'm quite certain just a couple or so more than 20 nations are compared). IE, a swing from the skies to the sewers. In this current event we witness TWO OF THE MOST IMPORTANT FACTORS UNDERLYING THE DECLINE OF THE EDUCATION OUR CHILDREN ARE RECEIVING IN THE PUBLIC SCHOOLS:
ONE has just been described. The environment already described above is too obviously detrimental to learning, to require a further explanation. Learning requires an un-distracted focus. To say that the above-described environment is inimical to that, would be like saying serial murder is impolite. Yes it is inimical to an un-distracted focus. But it has many more blatantly bad aspects as well, some of which have already been mentioned above. It would not surprise me if the increasing rate of mental and emotional disturbances and syndromes amongst the young is due at least in part from the kind of "learning" environment many of such "politically correct" and/or "zero tolerance" public schools provide.
TWO is this:
The FOREMOST DUTY of education is to teach children HOW TO THINK, since the objective of schooling is to prepare them to deal with life as an adult. (If a child learns how to THINK well and clearly, he will be able to correct any other shortcomings of his education on his own, in the future. "On his own" doesn't necessarily mean "in isolation." It can also mean, for example, a decision to take one or several academic courses at another educational institution.) Many (GOOD) educators attribute the decline in our public school system's performance to a LACK of performance of its foremost duty, teaching children HOW TO THINK.
And teaching them how NOT to think is EXACTLY what the school officials in this case are doing. (I'd love to see this young man's parents bring a legal case for fraud against the local school system on these grounds.) Memorizing is replacing understanding. Rote repetition is replacing reasoned thinking. Robots are replacing human students with working minds.
Just like the Gestapo-like goons of the school who had this boy charged with a felony. They learned the ONE fact that the knife was in the car, and had no interest in understanding how it got there, nor any interest in other relevant facts. The just kept rote repeating that he was in possession, without thinking of, or being willing to consider the circumstance which explained why and how he came to be technically "in possession."
Just as liberal fascists substitute chants, slogans, and sound bites for reasoned discussion, these "politically correct" Gestapo-like goons who are muscle-bound between their ears, have decided that RULES supersede PRINCIPLES. A rule is an absolute, invariable maxim. Making it "zero tolerance" in the way these mentally disturbed school officials have, just serves to underscore or solidify that description of what rules are. When they rejected the boy's explanation out of hand with "the fact remains you were in possession," yes, that's correct. But is is only ONE fact of many relevant ones. In order to achieve justice, or fairness if you prefer, the FULL CONTEXT must be considered. "FULL CONTEXT" means ALL of the RELEVANT facts.
But to do that, you have to have to be willing to THINK, to apply your PRINCIPLE in the FULL CONTEXT of the facts relevant to the situation in which you are attempting to apply the rules or actions your principle will then call for. You must FIRST judge whether, in light of all the relevant facts, the proper applicable PRINCIPLES are indeed those which call for the application of your rule, or whether it is NOT applicable at all, or whether it must be applied in a way that accommodates any OTHER principles which also apply, in light of the facts.
Rules can be memorized by parrots or even an inanimate tape recorder. Principles can be learned only by a HUMAN BRAIN (assuming you'll permit me to omit consideration of aliens from outer space). Let's call this the "Bird Brain Method" of thinking. It's the one that was adopted by the Nazis for the benefit of their subjects. (Whether or not they believed it or relied on it all the time themselves, it's the one they adopted). The Bird Brain method is obviously the one preferred and adopted by the official goons of the educational system in the current case too.
This should not surprise us very much, since modern liberalism is at least as much fascisitc as it is communistic or socialistic. And . . . we see in practice how liberals dispense with reasoned discussion and thoughtful discourse in favor of slogans, sound bites, insults, and demonizing. It is the substitution of knee-jerk, reflexive, rote application of simplistic RULES for rational THINKING. When children see their adult supervisors operating with the Bird Brain method of using their brains, and when they realize school is their preparation for adulthood, it's no wonder they don't bother to think. They get the Bird Brain method NOT ONLY from the way they're taught nowadays, but from the role models of adults they are surrounded with in the educational system. Sub-humans like the officials who are charging this boy with a felony. And it's no wonder the kids coming out of our schools, who used to rank first as compared with the kids of other developed nations (only a few decades ago), have recently ranked 17th ( think the total number in the rankings is 22 nations). From the skies to the sewers in less than two generations. The politically correct Liberal Fascists haven't gotten our public school system into last place yet, but give 'em time. Rome wasn't built in a day.
There is another explanation offered by some as to the cause of the decline in our public educational system, but I mention it only for completeness, since I consider it unlikely to be correct. It's the claim that while "running" our school system for decades, the liberal fascists have been working quietly behind the scenes to change the first "n" in "running" to an "i."
When I went to school (back before the Revolutionary War it seems, given all the changes since) I was taught that "every problem, when properly defined, suggests the path to its own solution." I've found this to be a helpful guide to the solution of many problems. It seems to be applicable in this case too, suggesting that the solution to "Why Johnny Can't Read" is simply to adopt a "zero tolerance" policy toward liberals in our public educational establishment.