Bureaucrats get in the way of common sense

Published: Wednesday, December 11, 2013 at 04:09 PM.

Maryland schools suspended three kids recently for similar heinous acts of finger pointing perpetrated by the Florida boy. And a 12-year-old Virginia Beach boy was recently suspended for shooting an “airsoft” gun in his own yard while awaiting the school bus. Airsoft guns shoot plastic pellets and could, like Ralphie’s “official Red Ryder; carbine action; two-hundred shot range model air rifle” made famous in the 1983 movie “Christmas Story,” shoot an eye out.

But it was zero tolerance, chained-to-rules bureaucrats — not a mom’s concern for the danger of eye injury — that prompted this ridiculous suspension.

Even when kids self-report that they inadvertently brought a kitchen knife to school along with their lunch, they are suspended. So honesty is no longer the best policy. Is this really the lesson we want to teach our kids?

And so, thankfully, it was reported in the New York Times two weeks ago (by Lizette Alverez on Dec. 2) in a column entitled, “Seeing the toll, schools revise zero tolerance,” that “Faced with mounting evidence that get-tough policies in schools are leading to arrest records, low academic achievement and high dropout rates that especially affect minority students, cities and school districts around the country are rethinking their approach to minor offenses.”

Florida schools were the focus of this article, but finally the voices of reasonable people are being heard in Florida and elsewhere in America. We knew they were there. It just took a while for their voices to be heard.

I hope it’s not too late. The New York Times reported in a story the very next day (Dec. 3 by Motoko Rich) that American students, “… score in the middle of the developed world in reading and science while lagging in math according to international standardized test results.”

If America is going to compete globally, we have to do better in educating our children than “the middle of the pack.” Our kids have to be free to play and learn and make mistakes and be forgiven for minor infractions by the teacher. Keep the bureaucrats out of the decision-making process. They’ve proven themselves incapable of handling such matters.

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