I’m sick of bullying.

 

I’m sick of our supposedly failing school system.

 

I’m also sick of a final issue that’s keeping me in my educational coffin, slowly  asphyxiating me: school policies.

 

The latest ‘to do’ follows a 7 year old boy in Florida, who was expelled for bringing a toy gun to school.  Hold up, let me check that: yes, for bringing a toy into school, this toddler was saddled with the punishment equivalent to physically or sexually assaulting another student. 

 

Ah ha! I get it now.  The reason there is so much bullying in America is because we’re hunting down toys! It all makes sense now!

 

But seriously, policies in our schools need to be made with more parent involvement and awareness fast, before the next generation is crippled anymore by our glaring ‘oversight’ of policies.

 

I’ve read countless school handbooks myself; probably because I’m a teacher.  We’ve all read policies that have made us roll our eyes, and then we turn the page.  After all, Sue is a great kid; as a parent I’ll never need this. However, there is a small percentage of parents who are haunted by these ‘harmless’ tomes when Tommy or Sue comes into school unknowingly violating it one year or the next.

 

Wait! I knew the policies, but it wasn’t the kid’s fault! Too bad, now Sue has to be home-schooled, or schooled at a correctional facility. 

 

This in itself raises a valid question: whose fault is it, the parent’s, or the school for maintaining strange policies?  Let’s back up to some policies that are popular in school districts currently: aggressive dress codes, aggressive gum codes, and also zero tolerance policies when it comes to items such as cell phones, mp3 players, and weapons. Other popular school ‘blanket’ zero tolerance policies include: no hugging, no purses or drawstring pouches, no jeans with holes in them, no pajama pants, no ‘hoodies’/sweatshirts, no shirts that don’t have a collar, and even as ridiculous as not allowing any sort of book bag onto school property.

 

I understand a zero tolerance gun policy; it certainly makes sense in our post-Columbine society.  I hate guns.   However, it doesn’t necessarily mean a 7 year old should be punished for unconsciously bringing a toy to school, one he never even took out of his book bag.   

 

Zero tolerance policies make sense if you’re the administrator: You violated it? You’re out; zero policy. 

 

 Hold your tie, sir.

 

I understand administrators and teachers are busy, but take the time to discipline appropriately and fairly.  Schools cannot use procedure and policy as a blanket to discipline everyone in the school.  It makes it easy and convenient for the administrators and school board, but this ‘easy way’ is NOT right! Each ‘crime’ is as individual as the single student who committed it, and we owe it to our kids and our futures to treat each case with reason and common sense.

 

Need more proof that this is an issue?

 

In Colorado a girl was suspended because she had three rifles in her car.  Did it matter that they were facsimiles that were twirled in the marching band? Nope. Zero tolerance.

 

How about the fourth grade girl suspended because her grandmother sent in a small knife with her birthday cake?

 

I remember days when if you did something wrong, you were hauled in and told not to do it again, end of story.  I mean, you wouldn’t haul a girl who had doodled on a desk in marker away in handcuffs and make her do community service, that’s ridiculous!

 

Yet it actually happened to a junior high student in New York. 

 

When it comes down to it, parents need to be aware of their schools’ policies.  Policies are made and adapted by school boards, so get involved!   Check your school board’s schedule, and know when meetings are and what topics will be discussed.  Also, listen to your kids.  After all, they probably know just as much (if not more) about what’s going on.  Together, we can rally for a return to common sense in our schools and communities.

 

So go online, raid your kid’s book bag, write a letter, but do whatever it takes to obtain a copy of your school district’s policies. 

 

Chances are you’ll be surprised at what you find.