Why Students Lose Respect for School Authorities, Case Study 309,456: “The Red Scare”

Inappropriate, Thomas!

It is not directly relevant to Natalie Munroe’s complaints perhaps, but when students today seem less than in awe of those adults who claim to be qualified to guide them to wisdom and success in school, they often have good cause to be wary. Take the example of Stephanie Plato, a sixth grader at Cobb Elementary School in Houston’s Channelview school district.

Stephanie was suspended from school because the red and blonde highlights her mother let her get died into her hair as a 12th birthday present violated the school’s code of conduct.

You read that right.

We are not talking electric orange here, or anything strange and disruptive. Just a few red highlights in her naturally brown hair. But the school dress code bans “inappropriate hair color”…such as red.  Don’t ask me why. It doesn’t matter why. It is stupid.

Red hair…you know, like Little Orphan Annie, Ronald Reagan, Susan Sarandon, Ann-Margret, Van Johnson, Eric Stoltz, Thomas Jefferson, Woody Allen, Anne Boleyn, Prince Harry, Sarah Bernhardt, Winston Churchill, Napoleon, Sarah Ferguson, Rupert Grint, Queen Elizabeth I, Katherine Hepburn, Bette Davis, Andrew Jackson, Conan O’Brien, Bernadette Peters, Rita Hayworth, Shakespeare, George Washington…inappropriate.

I’ve said this before, as have others, but when schools discipline innocent, well-intentioned, non-disruptive conduct—

Red highlights!!!!!! Aiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

—- because of overly broad, poorly conceived, illogical, unnecessary and arbitrary rules, they simply teach students that the concept of adult intelligence and wisdom is a myth, and that they are under the thumbs of foolish, power-abusing, inconsiderate, child-loathing fools who deserve little respect and only whatever obedience that is necessary to avoid their desire to bully, insult, and harm.

That’s what Cobb Elementary School taught Stephanie and her classmates by suspending her because she wanted red highlights in her hair. And if, from this day on, Stephanie and the rest, the veils of respect yanked from their eyes, become the kind of inwardly sneering,  inattentive, adversarial students that the Natalie Munroes of the teaching establishment regard as “assholes” and “fucks,” we shouldn’t be surprised, and we should know exactly who to blame.

15 thoughts on “Why Students Lose Respect for School Authorities, Case Study 309,456: “The Red Scare”

  1. It’s that damn rock and roll!! At least sweet old Justin Beiber knows the score!

    Unrelated: When will Justin Beiber become so popular that spellchecks will recognize his surname’s spelling?

  2. Jack,

    I think Pink Floyd nicely addressed this very subject circa 1979 in “The Wall”:

    “When we grew up and went to school, there were certain teachers who would hurt the children anyway they could by pouring their derision upon anything we did, exposing every weakness however carefully hidden by the kids…

    We don’t need no education
    We don’t need no thought control
    No dark sarcasm in the classroom
    Teachers leave them kids alone
    Hey! Teachers! Leave them kids alone!
    All in all it’s just another brick in the wall.
    All in all you’re just another brick in the wall.”

    I really can’t believe that school administrator’s fear of litigation causes this sort of inane behavior. I fear that we can’t rely on public schools to help our children mature into productive adults since they themselves have not yet reached that level of maturity. ( I apoligize in advance to those intrepid educators who do publicly reject this rubbish, my hat is off to you for your diligence.)

  3. “Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain.” (Friedrich von Schiller).

    “The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has its limits.” (Albert Einstein).

  4. I am glad to say I was able to see Roger Waters a few years ago. Even at his age, his voice is still extremely powerful.

    There is only one thing I’d say about that song that people need to realize. It is not about rebellion but about knowing and understanding.

    I’ve dealt with one of those teachers, and I reacted poorly and irresponsibly. In the end, it worked out for me, but I should not have done what I did then.

    I believe I have stated what I believe on this subject before. Teachers and schools are running away with the rules. It’s become ridiculous. They will use extremely poor logic to punish and use laws as they see fit.

    We see this with punishing students for doing absolutely nothing wrong. Shaping their hands to look like a gun and yelling bang? That’s suspension worthy today. A spitball shooter is considered a deadly weapon now. I made a science project on a spitball. I would have a record if I did that today.

    Why are we punishing kids for being kids?

  5. My 16-year-old son has a logarithically higher IQ than most of the teachers he’s had, has more general knowledge (learned on his own) than any of them, and spent years being basically persecuted by moronic and or sadistic teachers who were threatened by him. Needless to say, his attitude toward public and private education is more than negative.

    He is home schooled now (with part time tutor) and is thriving.

    One question, though: With teachers’ salaries low, qualifications dubious, and teachers’ unions running the show, it becomes a question of what exactly does our society value? There should be better salaries, more stringent evaluation requirements, and even psychological testing of teachers and administrators before we allow our children to be in their thrall.

    Meantime, if you can’t fight back, get your kids OUT!

    • And not all schools are the same. I had the fortune of going to a public high school with mostly very good teachers, and a few excellent ones. For example, my 12th grade English class was harder than anything I did in college, but it was fair. I learned more about how to understand and analyze literature in that one year than the rest of my life combined.

      There was one teacher who was clearly threatened by more intelligent students. Despite having a doctorate, she didn’t make it to tenure. The school environment was the oppositte of what you describe.

      My experience doesn’t imply that public education is the way to go, and your experience doesn’t force the converse. Though I would say, socializing a ridiculously smart kid with petty authority figures doesn’t seem like it’s necessarily bad. More experience with incompetent leaders would have been a huge help for me coming out of school.

      • A legitimate point: my dad used to say that one might as well get used to dealing with fools and petty functionaries early, because you would be encountering them for the rest of your life.

        But if my kid got suspended for red highlights, I’d have her in a full Lucy the next day and be on the phone to every local TB station to ensure that the idiots were run out of town.

    • What exactly does our society value? Excellent question. Especially considering that a pro basketball player can make $20 million a year, while a kid’s 3rd grade teacher is lucky to make $45K.

      Of course , the BB player is handling a ball, whereas the teacher is merely handling a child’s mind and spirit.

      • Value is decided by demand and availability—the talent of shooting baskets is rarer, or so we think, than the talent of teaching children. Plus, teaching does not produce measurable benefits in the same way as pro sports. Find a way for teachers to share in the success of their students, and make their compensation dependent on what their charges do with the education they get, and things might be different. Can’t condemn society for valuing entertainment over frustration and failure.

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