Sunday, August 19, 2012

No Tolerance For No Tolerance

Someone has said current practices of ”no tolerance” for school infractions represent a lack of leadership on the part of administrators. Rather than make the tough decisions regarding student misbehavior, administrators hide behind rules, some of them extreme.

Back in the ‘50s was an old doo-wop song, “Charlie Brown” by the Coasters. In today’s climate of no tolerance, here’s how the original “Charlie Brown” might play out:

Fe-fe, fi-fi, fo-fo-fum
I smell smoke in the auditorium

Dear Mrs. Brown. It has come to our attention that your son, Charles has been engaged in antisocial and dangerous behavior such as smoking at school. As a result we have suspended Charles until such time as he enrolls in and completes a substance abuse program regarding tobacco products. Signed, Dunn Crisp, principal.

Charlie Brown, Charlie Brown
He’s a clown, that Charlie Brown
He’s gonna get caught
Just you wait and see.
(Why’s everybody always pickin’ on me)

Dear Mrs. Brown. Upon completion of his substance abuse program, we have noticed your son Charles demonstrating characteristics that can only be described as those of paranoia, in that he thinks everyone is “pickin’” on him. As a result, we are continuing his suspension until such time as we have documentation from a qualified mental health care professional that Charles is undergoing treatment for these apparent symptoms. Signed, Dunn Crisp, principal.

That’s him on his knees
I know that’s him
Yeah, from 7 come 11
Down in the boys’ gym

Dear Mrs. Brown. Having completed the tobacco substance abuse program and the mental health treatment for symptoms of paranoia, we have found Charles engaged in gambling activities in the boys’ gym. As a result, we have referred him to another substance abuse program for treatment of his gambling habit. Signed, Dunn Crisp, principal.

Who’s always writing on the wall?

Dear Mrs. Brown. Upon your son Charles’ return to school, we found him engaged in aggressive vandalism. Only quick response prevented such vandalism from spreading beyond a 4-square-inch section of the north wall of the main stairway. But I am sorry to have to tell you that we must bill you for damage from the vandalism and for the resulting security actions. Please see our attached statement for $7,000 for repainting the interior of the school and $8,000 for costs for SWAT team response. Signed, Dunn Crisp, principal.

Who’s always goofing in the halls
Whose always throwing spit balls
Guess who (who, me) yeah, you.

Dear Mrs. Brown. I regret to inform you that your son Charles is in the county jail on a weapons charge. While some may say so-called “spitballs” are harmless, this is in violation of our no tolerance policy regarding any projectile devices. We cannot say when or how Charles will be released as he is now under county law enforcement jurisdiction. Signed, Dunn Crisp, principal.

Who walks in the classroom, cool and slow
Who calls the English teacher, Daddy-O

Dear Mrs. Brown. While out on bail, your son Charles recently caused great offense to one of our English teachers, Mr. Perot. We have contacted the district attorney’s office for an opinion regarding a hate crime offense and have attached a bill for $295 for Mr. Perot’s first session of counseling. Signed, Dunn Crisp, principal.

Not to condone the mischievous behavior of fictitious Charlie Brown, it is difficult to understand contemporary news reports of children being hauled from school in handcuffs, of having their homemade lunches reviewed for foods of questionable nutrition, of being accused as six-year-olds of sexual harassment, or of being suspended because they did the right thing but didn’t do things right. Again, school administrators need to stand up and make wise and proper decisions, not play the bureaucracy game.

By the way, “Charlie Brown” by the Coasters should not be confused with the recent “Charlie Brown” tune by Coldplay, which alludes to auto theft. Mr. Crisp would be really upset with that. And I’d agree with him.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Eat More Chiken

So Dan Cathy, Chick Fil A CEO, said the company upholds traditional values regarding marriage between a man and a woman. And Chick Fil A became corporation non gratis in Boston. And Chicago.

But not in Fayetteville, Arkansas, on Chick Fil A Day. Cars are lined up into the street trying to get into the Chick Fil A at Martin Luther King and Razorback. The Cutest Community Organizer To Whom I Am Married along with some politico friends and I got there at 11 a.m. to avoid the rush. Ha! The place is packed.

The issue is not about discrimination against homosexuals. Chick Fil A says it does not discriminate on any basis, including sexual orientation. It's just that Cathy and his closely-held company hold the same values as most Americans.

It's a festive atmosphere at the Fayetteville store. The crowd is young – mostly 35 and below; there are kids, some teenagers, many young parents. Two Boy Scouts are in line. And a sheriff's deputy. There are some young guys with tee shirts saying they're part of a football team. A young man wears an Ave Maria University shirt. The line inside spreads throughout the building. In fact, people keep asking, "Where is the end of the line?" Me, playing the funny guy, keeps pointing and saying: "In Oklahoma!"

California, hotbed of liberalism, amended its constitution to prohibit gay "marriage." But Those Who Know Best in federal court overturned it. Twenty-eight others states put on the ballot constitutional amendments defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman. All of them passed.

One of the lines at the Fayetteville Chick Fil A is delayed. A woman is picking up a massive order to take back to her co-workers at the local veterans hospital. Two soldiers in fatigues are embarrassed as people keep giving them cuts to go ahead of them in line.

Voters in Hawaii instructed legislators to ban gay marriage; voters in Maine stopped legislation that would allow it. This week supporters of California's ban on gay marriage are asking the U. S. Supreme Court to settle the whole thing once and for all. Like so many issues, the will of the people is no longer relevant; rather, lawyers in robes rule us.

A maintenance man comes from a back room of the restaurant carrying a fan that looks like a boat propeller on steroids. What a day for a restaurant fan to give out! A Chick Fil A worker says the milkshake machine has quit. On the street behind is a truck from an expediting freight company set up to unload. Are they bringing extra supplies to Chick Fil A? But they're parked a few doors down. Could it be they didn't want to block cars belonging to Chick Fil A customers that are parked off the street and on the grass? Why would anyone come to a restaurant they know is going to be packed? In fact, there were some people who had no idea what was going on -- they just wandered in wanting a Chick Fil A meal. They looked a bit overwhelmed. We hear people saying a Channel 5 news crew is on the property. Reports indicate the what's happening here is happening all over the country.

The issue is not homosexuality per se. Most people don't care about what goes on in other people's bedrooms. But gay marriage is uncharted territory. Even ancient Greece, highly tolerant -- even encouraging of -- homosexuality, did not think to tamper with the concept of marriage.

And when Dan Cathy voiced what so many of us believe, he was mocked, his company threatened. But there is a large majority out there: tolerant, respectful, not wishing ill on their fellow human beings, but who know what is right and what is wrong. People who try to work within the system, signing petitions, securing amendments to state constitutions, people who are tired of what they hold sacred being mocked. People who are tired of being bullied while they are accused of being bullies.

People who one day just go to their local Chick Fil A and decide the most relevant political action they can take is:

Eat more chiken.