It Has Come to This

…Well, your kids, anyway. But you’re next.

Rundlett Middle School has suspended  a 13-year-old Concord, New Hampshire girl for posting on her Facebook page that she wished Osama bin Laden had killed her math teacher.  Many of the stories published about the incident close with the statement,  “School officials say they can’t comment on the case because of privacy concerns.” While I suppose I should be relieved that they are still concerned about some privacy issues,  their respect for privacy generally leaves a lot to be desired.  So does their respect for basic constitutional rights…but they aren’t the only ones.

The post was stupid, and so what? The teacher was not placed in any jeopardy (Osama is dead, no matter what the school might have heard); no student was bullied (not that this would justify the long arm of the government reaching into the child’s bedroom either); nobody was defamed.    Kimberly Dellisola, the girl’s mother, has told the press the punishment was “too harsh.” Would somebody please tell Kimberly that the school has no business punishing her child at all? That’s Kimberly’s job, or at least was, until schools decided to take over policing what children do, write and say in their own homes.

Let’s be clear. There is no justification for a school to discipline a student based on what she writes on her own website, any more than it should punish a student for what she says over the telephone or writes in a letter. It is wrong. It is oppressive. It is an abuse of power.

The landscape was smoothed for this outrage when the media and public began blaming schools for not controlling bullying situations, rather than parents for not raising ethical offspring. Since parents won’t do their jobs or take responsibility and be accountable for how their kids treat others, schools—and, therefore, the government—are taking over. Do you like that?

Apparently the Obama Administration thinks you do, or will, or will be persuaded to (“He loved Big Brother.”), because it pushed for this.  As The  Daily Caller and Reason reported in March…

“Education Department officials are threatening school principals with lawsuits if they fail to monitor and curb students’ lunchtime chat and evening Facebook time for expressing ideas and words that are deemed by Washington special-interest groups to be harassment of some students. There has only been muted opposition to this far-reaching policy among the professionals and advocates in the education sector, most of whom are heavily reliant on funding and support from top-level education officials. The normally government-averse tech-sector is also playing along, and on Mar. 11, Facebook declared that it was “thrilled” to work with White House officials to foster government oversight of teens’ online activities…..The agency’s threats, which are delivered in a so-called “Dear Colleague” letter,” have the support of White House officials, including President Barack Obama, who held a Mar. 10 White House meeting to promote the initiative as a federal “anti-bullying” policy. The letter says federal officials have reinterpreted the civil-rights laws that require school principals to curb physical bullying, as well as racist and sexist speech, that take place within school boundaries. Under the new interpretation, principals and their schools are legally liable if they fail to curb “harassment” of students, even if it takes place outside the school, on Facebook or in private conversation among a few youths….”

Still like it? Knowing that the typical school administrator is terrified of lawyers, will do anything to keep his or her job and has the spine of a planaria, it is no surprise that many are prepared to abandon the Constitution in order to keep from being bullied by the federal government over bullying. Go ahead, ridicule the commentators, bloggers, talk show hosts, conservative politicians and citizens who express concern over government’s steady incursion into our personal lives and private affairs. Yes, some of them are paranoid and uncivil,  or even out of touch with reality, like, say, Rand Paul.  But sometimes the extremists detect real dangers that everyone else shrugs off.

This is how it starts, with Barack and Michelle announcing their touching concern over bullying. It continues with some boys being disciplined for denigrating high school girls on their website—all in the privacy of their own homes, of course—and then moved on to some students being punished for spreading vicious rumors about teachers. Do we see the slippery slope yet? Now Mrs. Dell’isola’s daughter is being suspended, not for bullying, not for libeling teachers, but for her mean wishes.

Here is what I wrote about this disturbing trend in March:

“I see no reason, if the extension of school authority off of school grounds is allowed to continue, why the next school won’t suspend its students for making disrespectful statements about President Obama on Facebook, or making derogatory statements about illegal immigrants, or passing along politically incorrect jokes, or disapproving of the Ground Zero Mosque, or posting cross-hairs as a graphic… or criticizing the teachers union.”

I wish I was always as prescient as I was that day.,,,and I also wish that I was over-reacting, as some times I am prone to do. But I wasn’t Over-reacting. The ACLU still sits on the sidelines, the anti-bullying hysterics keep shouting for the government to “Do something!”, the progressives who accused President Bush of being a Nazi for approving the NSA’s monitoring of U.S. citizens communicating with suspected terrorists nod approvingly, and the government is punishing kids for what they write and think at home.

Do you like it? Are you going to do anything about it?

12 thoughts on “It Has Come to This

  1. I would have posted the same thing at her age, if Facebook existed. My pre-Algebra teacher was horrid.

    I’ll be wasting my vote on a third pary next year, perhaps.

      • More importantly, who’s gonna be your running mate when the rightist and leftist nuts invariably have you in their sights?

          • I’m in.

            I’ve always wanted a job that makes me famous, pays solid money, is short term (but with huge possible payouts afterwards), doesn’t actually require that much authority (other than occasional senate stuff, the president is ultimately responsible for everything), and gives me a reason to have a yacht with a helicopter pad on it.

            The only problem I see is that my real name doesn’t work well on a bumper sticker. I think I get more mail with it mispelled than spelled correctly.

  2. So the freedom of speech in the first amendment does not apply in schools? Got it.

    Do schools have a legitimate concern? After Columbine, Red Lake, etc. I can understand why schools would be concerned about online postings discussing murder. Often the shooting is mentioned before hand in an online post. How to prevent this school shootings? School officials think that paying attention to students online activities (whether at school or at home) is the answer. There is a world of difference between the student saying I wish teacher X was dead and saying I am going to bring three guns to school and here is the plan on how I am going to carry out my attack. School officials seem to view that difference as a fine line that they would rather be on the safe side of.

    Rant warning. Just so you know.

    The attitude and opinion of schools flows from the change in philosophy in education. Once upon a time, the schools purpose was to educate. Since many students were hungry and it is impossible to learn when you are hungry (or so I have been told), the school lunch program was started after WWII. The schools had added a new role, ensuring that students could get a good meal (later 2 good meals) during the day. As the years pass more and more roles are added to the schools. Schools open earlier and stay open later to provide a place for students to go when there is no one at home. Some schools are providing educational opportunities well into the night time and now provide dinner for students. Some schools are open until 8 at night (possibly later, but I do know of 8:00 pm closings) to provide a safe place for students. The role of the family has been diminished to the degree that you might as well be a divorced parent that gets to see your kids on the weekend. Except that some schools are opening on weekends too.

    Schools have taken on more and more roles to provide services to students and as this has happened schools have taken more and more authority over students lives. Schools are no longer viewing themselves strictly as schools but community resource centers, a one stop shop for all your child-rearing needs. Does your child need help preparing for kindergarten (which is all day long every day now as opposed to part time as it used to be)? Then let your children come to pre-k. Not ready to graduate at 18? No problem, take your time, you have until your 21 to graduate.

    Not every school in the nation is doing all of these things, but what is being taught in education courses is that schools must do everything in their power to provide a learning environment where all students can learn and thrive. Anything that interferes with learning must be addressed. Providing clothes, toiletries, school supplies, meals, etc. is now the role of the schools.

    Is there any surprise that schools are tracking what students are saying at home? Remember the school that sent home laptops with a web cam that the school could activate without a students knowledge? The schools feel that of course they can pay attention to what a student does and says (and thinks) because they have to preserve the learning environment. Students are also not allowed to make a political statement that would affect the learning environment (such as wearing a T-shirt with patriotic sayings on it on cinco de mayo).

    When I went to high school (I graduated in ’97) students in shop classes were allowed to bring the stock of their rifle (barrel, trigger, etc. removed) and carve designs on their guns during shop class. Now bringing a toy police officer that holds a 2 inch gun can get you expelled.
    I am sure this rambles a bit, but time is short and have to run so I will post it in all its ramblingness.

    Now for the part of this rant where I become a coward. I recently graduated college and plan on getting a job as a high school teacher. I will not be leaving my actual name on this post. Jack could figure my name from the email as I have posted before, though surely not often. I mainly just read. Today though, I lost it. Am I a coward? Probably.

    • Good comment. I graduated from high school in 1969. It was a whole different situation then, too. Personally, I see this as a systematic program of devolving the family into a Clintonesque “village”. In other words, statism. If you control the children, you control the future… in your own image.

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