In January 2013, I realized I had used “Now this is the worst example of insane no-tolerance school conduct that there can ever be!” multiple times, and that it was time to make some close calls. I asked readers to rank the following real examples of child abuse by schools, in which children of various ages were punished cruelly and excessively for harmless conduct that violated a poorly envisioned no-tolerance rule. This was the list:
1. Biting pizza into the shape of a gun.
2. Pointing a finger in the shape of a gun and saying “Bang!”
3. Threatening to shoot a student with a bubble gun.
4. A deaf child who makes the obvious sign-language symbol for gun, to “say” his own name, because his first name is “Hunter”
5. Expelling a student and bringing charges of criminal assault for shooting another student with a spitball through a straw
6. Accidentally bringing a paring knife to school in a lunch box
7. Drawing a picture of your father holding a gun
8. Playing with a LEGO figure carrying a LEGO automatic weapon
9. Drawing a picture of a gun
10. Writing a poem about the Newtown shooting.
I received a lot of responses on the blog, more off-site. I never published the final results, however, which also takes into consideration my own positions. Here, from most defensible to most insane, is the current order, and why each entry landed where it did: Continue reading