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.

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