Comment of the day: “It Has Come To This”

JC comments in response to “It Has Come to This,” the recent  post about a school suspending a student for the non-bullying, non-threatening, non-defamatory content she wrote to friends on her personal Facebook page in the privacy of her own home. JC apologetically calls it a rant; I don’t think it is. He is providing useful context for the school’s abuse of its power, and illuminates how we got to this unfortunate place, where parents abdicate to the schools, and the schools open the door for government intrusion into our homes and families.

“…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.”

3 thoughts on “Comment of the day: “It Has Come To This”

  1. I agree that we ought to be concerned about the sort of over-reactions and intrusions you write about. However, I believe that in most school systems these days, the parents and children are much more in control than are the teachers and administrators.

    I will not defend the sort of corporal punishment that was prevalent when I was a school kid in the 50’s and 60’s. There were some very sadistic teachers and vice principals, I recall. However, in the classrooms today, teachers really have no way to maintain discipline.

    At the middle school where my wife teaches, the only recourse she has for dealing with disruptive behavior is to send the kids to their “advisers”; i.e., other teachers. Typically, then, a teacher struggles through the day trying to educate the willing while having to babysit the slackers. Ultimately, kids can be suspended or expelled, but inevitably they have to attend school somewhere, so the problems are just shuffled around. This situation is only exacerbated by the widespread budget crunches facing schools these days: the student/teacher ratio will continue to grow.

    Often, from what I’ve seen, if a student is disciplined in any way, the parents tend not to assume any responsibility or work with the teacher to try to resolve matters. Their attitude is that their darling little boy or girl couldn’t possibly be to blame for anything, so everything has to be the fault of the teacher or the system.

    My point is that, far from being all-controlling environments, schools today are much more likely to be places where a lot of kids come to learn but are often distracted by a few bratty kids who get to run roughshod.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.