Responding to community and media pressure, not to mention internet, radio talk show and cable TV ridicule, school officials in Montgomery County rescinded the suspension of a 6-year-old Silver Spring boy who they said had endangered the school when he pointed his finger like a gun. I think the harm is done, and the fact of the suspension is signature significance that the administrators lack judgment, reason and proportion.
We learn some new facts in the Post story. The boy had apparently been reprimanded for using objects as imaginary guns in class, so there was an element of legitimate discipline in his punishment. There is some controversy over whether he may have said “Pow!” when he pointed his finger. If anyone thinks that should make any difference whatsoever, please sit in the back of the class with the silly Montgomery County administrators. Sure…saying “Pow!” makes that finger-gun even more realistic.
We learn that he had no knowledge of the Sandy Hook killings; he didn’t know what “Connecticut” was, either. These are just details, however. Again, anyone who really thought that a second-grader’s use of a finger gun signified a sinister intentional reference to Sandy Hook needs to get, in order, a life, a job outside the school system, and a brain.
The key quote in the Post piece is this, from a spokesperson for the schools, who told the Post that “…officials must deal with behavior that affects a school’s sense of safety and security.” Controversy resolved. That statement makes it clear that the boy wasn’t punished for disobedience, but because his playful and harmless act frightened a group of hysterics, or somehow offended them. The story also notes that “in suspending Rodney, an assistant school principal wrote in a Dec. 20 letter that the boy “threatened to shoot a student.” This also answers settles the legitimate punishment question. The school could have justifiably punished (but not suspended) a 6-year-old for repeating a gesture he had been told not to make in class, but this was not why he was punished in fact. He was punished because foolish school administrators interpreted a six-year-old’s pointed finger as an actual threat. That is, beyond all question or debate, idiotic.
And thus, despite the retraction of the suspension, the real harm remains. This is a school system run by people who have exposed themselves as incompetent, untrustworthy fools. The students are at risk, not of being shot, but of being turned into fools as well.
Pointer: fattymoon posterous (Thanks)
Facts: Washington Post
Ethics Alarms attempts to give proper attribution and credit to all sources of facts, analysis and other assistance that go into its blog posts. If you are aware of one I missed, or believe your own work was used in any way without proper attribution, please contact me, Jack Marshall, at firstname.lastname@example.org.