For What It’s Worth

Is common sense in public education lost?

Flowers aren’t the only thing gone a long time passing to the graveyard. So is common sense in public education, blown to the graveyard of zero tolerance by the wind of political correctness.

Consider the suspension last week of a sixth-grade student at Bayside Middle School in Virginia Beach. Under the PC guideline of zero tolerance, the Good Samaritan girl obviously deserved to be suspended. After all, she was guilty of taking a small razor blade away from a fellow student who was cutting himself and thereby saved him from additional self-inflicted wounds; guilty of throwing the razor into the trash; and then guilty of reporting to the school administration the action she had taken.

You and I might have praised the girl for disarming the student and saving him from further harm to himself, while also cautioning her that she had endangered herself, and complimented her for the right action of then reporting the incident to the administration. We might have, but the administration did not. Instead, the girl was suspended and faced a school board hearing with possibly expulsion. Clearly, a decision lacking in common sense.

Needless to say, the girl’s mother was dumbfounded by the action. She told a TV reporter that she had attempted to obtain an explanation from the school but received no response. The reporter began investigating and the school provided a written report verifying the action taken. The school’s own report acknowledges that the girl did not carry the razor onto the school campus, did not retain it in her possession, did not wave it around or any way threaten anyone with it. Yet, she was suspended.

The news report gave no indication of any action taken regarding the student who had the razor in his possession, apparently a clear violation of the weapons policy, and who had been doing physical harm to himself.

Seems to me that just a small modicum of common sense would have dictated commendation to the girl, likely accompanied by counsel about action that endangers yourself. It would appear that if any suspension for violation of the school’s no-weapons policy was warranted, it would have been suspension of the person bringing the weapon on campus and using it, albeit against himself.

Why didn’t the girl just report the boy’s action to a teacher? Because, she said, there was no teacher in sight. Rather than leaving the boy there cutting himself while she located a teacher, she saved the boy from himself and then found a teacher.

With the too-frequent reports of people standing by or doing nothing while others are being injured, it was reaffirming to read about a young girl with the compassion and courage to act on another person’s behalf despite possibly endangering herself. Although her action resulted in a negative and unfair reaction—though the school board may yet show more common sense and rescind the unjust suspension—the girl remains firm in the conviction that she did the right thing.

Asked by the reporter if she would take the same action if she knew she would be suspended, the sixth-grader said she would. She thought it was the right thing to do.

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3 Responses to For What It’s Worth

  1. Cindy says:

    Bless her heart.

  2. hedgarhix says:

    This one really bugged me, too, Disarming someone is breaking a no weapons rule? Helping a fellow student is against the rules? Reporting a problem to the administration is bad? It’s Orwellian doublethink/doublespeak. It reminds me of another recent school case where a girl was suspended for shaving her head in sympathy with a friend who has cancer and is undergoing chemo. The child was punished for showing sympathy and solidarity with a suffering person. At least the school reversed itself in this case and she’s back in school. Sad, sad, sad.

  3. Harry Hix says:

    Unfortunately, a number of such cases have occurred in recent years. I remember one a while back when a young boy arrived at school and remembered he had his Boy Scout knife in his pocket. In an attempt to do the right thing, he went to the principal’s office to turn the knife in for safe keeping and to return to him at the end of the day when he left school. Great example of common sense and a clear desire to follow the rules. Was he complimented or accommodated? No, he was suspended for having a weapon on campus. His was a more mature, reasoned action than that of the adult principal.

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