Just when I thought schools couldn't get any dumber, they did.
This week's "Dumbest School In The World" award goes to the Perspectives Charter Middle School in Chicago, which had police arrest more than 2 dozen children for reckless conduct.
Their horrible crime? A food fight.
According to a story on the ABC News website, there was a food fight at the school this past Thursday, and so the 25+ children were arrested, handcuffed, fingerprinted, and took mugshots.
"Hey kid, what are you in for?"
"I threw a carrot at a another kid."
"Uh, I-I-I don't want any t-trouble. I'll just sit over h-h-here."
The students were then suspended, and will have to appear in court.
Erica Russell, mother of Cassandra and Aliyah, told ABC News that she's "stunned."
"Who does that? Lock children up for throwing a carrot, a biscuit, milk, Jello," Russell said. "Who does that?"
ABC News wanted to know why the kids weren't just given detention.
"You have police coming in and investigating and sometimes taking kids down to the police station — grade-school children — for what we used to call childish behavior," John Whitehead, president of The Rutherford Institute, a civil liberties group, said.
Oh, but this is serious stuff, said Perspectives. These kids could cause injuries, be terrorist, or worse, disrupt other students' education!
"The Chicago police officers who help protect our school, concerned about potential injuries resulting from the fight, felt it was necessary to arrest those responsible," the school said in a statement.
How do you injure someone with Jell-O or a carrot?
I myself was never in a food fight in my entire educational career. (However, I am only one of two students to ever hang a dead possum from the roof of a school next to a sheet with the words "Eat Me" spray-painted on it. The other one was the guy who did it with me.)
Yes it's annoying, yes it's a pain, and yes, the kids should be punished. But arrested? I think that's more than a little over the top. While their records will be wiped clean when they turn 18, those things are going to follow them around until then.
McDonald's Manager: So, have you ever been convicted of a crime?
Student: Well, I threw a biscuit at another kid when I was 12.
McDonald's Manager: I'm sorry, the position has been filled by someone less dangerous.
The problem is Zero Tolerance forces all school administrators to walk in lockstep with all the rules, treating all major violations and minor incidents exactly with the same draconian, life-harming results.
Kids who have an aspirin are treated the same as the kid dealing drugs. Kids who have a butter knife are treated the same as the kid with a gun.
Zero Tolerance has long equaled Zero Sense for most school administrators, and they can't see how stupid they've become. They would prefer to make a basic knee-jerk reaction and think that they're somehow doing the kids some good.
Rather than turning an incident into a teachable moment (hey, isn't that what schools are all about?), or better yet, eliminate Zero Tolerance policies completely, they instead dream up the harshest punishment they can, but are caught off guard when it hits the airwaves and they're lambasted for being such morons.
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