Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Zero Tolerance?

Can "zero tolerance" really go too far? Let's examine that thought... Should a kid be expelled for bringing a plastic knife to school to cut cookies with? It happened. Should a kid be kicked out for bringing a trophy to school that had its bat break off during the day? It happened.
Here's the thing. We can go too far. What if a girl has real bad cramps during her time. Under zero tolerance policy, she either has to suffer all day or one of her parents has to bring the medicine to her. Most school nurses won't dispense medication unless it's prescribed by a doctor. What if a kid gets a headache during the day? We all know how rough kids play and an occasional minor head injury isn't that uncommon. But under the policy of most schools, these kids would all have to suffer or risk sneaking it in and being caught.
I admit I was a sneaker. If I wasn't feeling good, I'd have a couple pills with me. Never anything that'd make a noise, but I'd have a couple with me. And if I needed them, I'd sneak into a bathroom or somewhere where I couldn't be seen. I did what I had to do. Heck, my worst drug was no pill, it was the six-pack of pepsi I drank every day through high school. It was so boring for me that it was the only way I could stay awake. I know my case is a little extreme, but I know I wasn't the only one struggling to stay awake. I saw several kids doze off in class, once or twice snoring so loud the teacher heard. Granted, a lot of the time, its because kids don't sleep enough. But there are many who are just bored out of their minds or don't care.
My point is, there needs to be flexibility in the rules to leave room for intent and reason. What if I used one of my sodas as a weapon? You ever shake a soda then slam it on the ground in front of someone? That's a pretty big kaboom usually!! (Lower carbonation products like caffeine-free sodas don't tend to work as well, trust me, they go flat almost the moment you open them.) And that kid with the plastic knife was trying to go by the rules, he could've brought a metal one that his mom surely has in her sink, but instead he brought a plastic one that he and his parent(s) surely felt would pass safety concerns.
So my question is, where do we draw the line between safety and common sense? Where do we say it's time to go and where do we say just don't do it next time or come to the office first and drop it off until you need it? School is a learning experience for these kids who, in a matter of years, will be our next generation of taxpayers, service providers, and politicians, among others. Let's give them the best education that books - and LIFE - can give.

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