Sometimes it seems as if there is a team of fiction writers concocting absurd school no-tolerance scenarios just to see what idiocy the news media will believe. Unfortunately, the topic defies parody, and now, just as I cleaned my office up after the cranial detonation earlier today, there is this:
At Bayside Middle School, in Virginia Beach,* Virginia, sixth grader Adrionna Harris saw a classmate cutting his arm with a razor blade. She took the blade from the student, threw it away and persuaded him that what he was doing dangerous and wrong. Then she told the school’s administration about the incident. Because saving the boy from serious harm required her handling a dangerous weapon on school grounds, Adrionna received a 10 day suspension with recommendation for expulsion.
In an example of the news media’s remarkable facility for misunderstanding just about anything, a local TV station reporting on this story asked, “Was the school’s zero tolerance policy taken too far?” Yes, for all you idiots and teachers out there, was this the right thing to do? What a stupid, stupid, question. Of course it wasn’t. Of course the school’s zero tolerance policy was taken too far. Any no-tolerance policy is by definition “taken too far” because it eliminates common sense and discretion (assuming that school personnel are capable of either) and leads to fiascos like this. That is not the question raised by the episode. Note to our sad and incompetent journalists: if you can’t do better than that, just report the news and shut up. You aren’t helping.
Among the legitimate and urgent questions that are raised by what happened to Adrionna Harris are these:
- What would the school administrators have preferred Harris to do? Can they articulate that? I bet they can’t.
- Did it occur to any of the dim-witted villains responsible that they were sending messages to children that would guarantee more harm to students rather than less, by convincing them that the school would punish them for coming to another student’s aid?
- How can any cognizant professionals maintain that a disciplinary action that teaches students “don’t help others, don’t remove weapons from classmates, don’t dispose of them, and if you do, never alert administrators that a student has been hurting himself, or you will be punished severely” is part of a rational policy? Teaching children not to do the right thing, not to be proactive when someone is in peril, not to be brave, is a wise and responsible course of action…that’s the considered conclusion of these people?
- Can any administrators this foolish, unthinking, unfair, irresponsible and cruel be trusted with any child’s education?
- Do Harris’s parents, if they are responsible and rational themselves, have any alternative other than to remove their abused daughter from the clutches of these power-abusing cretins?
- Is there any good reason why every other parent with children attending Bayside Middle School shouldn’t do the same?
* The original version of this post mistakenly placed the school in “Hampton Roads.” Thanks to John Robins for the correction, and my apologies to the Virginia coast.
Facts: 10 WAVY