It would appear that the public school zero tolerance fad has not quite been replaced with something equally moronic. I speak of the anti-gun fervor so prominent among educators. Why is it moronic? In January of 2013 in The Sublime And The Idiotic, I wrote of a five year old girl suspended from school because she told a little friend she wanted to “shoot them both”—with a pink “Hello Kitty” bubble gun, a gun she left at home. That’s right. A little girl was suspended from school for “terroristic threats,” with a bubble blower, a bubble blower she left at home.
I hadn’t seen much of that sort of thing in the last year or two, but unfortunately, stupidity dies hard. The most recent example is in Colorado. Perhaps all the pot smoking has something to do with it. The Denver Channel.com reports:
A 5-year-old Brighton girl has been suspended for a day after bringing a clear plastic bubble gun onto school grounds.
The child is a kindergarten student at Southeast Elementary in Brighton, part of Adams County School District 27J.
The mother, who requested her identity be concealed due to privacy concerns, said she didn’t know her daughter had put the toy into her backpack Monday morning.
‘I apologized right away and said that I am so sorry she did that,’ said the girl’s mother. ‘I appreciate that they’re trying to keep our kids safe, I really do. But there needs to be some common sense. It blows bubbles.
Well yes, it blows bubbles. It isn’t actually, you know, a gun gun. I suppose someone might get a little soap in their eye, but then again, people get paper cuts every day and there is a great deal of paper in schools, perhaps even assault paper. Perhaps there are facts about which we are not aware? Perhaps school officials had good reason to fear for their safety or the safety of their students?
Before school started, the kindergarten student took out the bubble gun in the hallway during indoor recess.
The school called the mother, telling her to come pick up the child because she was suspended for having a fake gun in school.
‘I asked, ‘Is it really necessary for me to come get her?’ And they said, ‘Yes, this is our zero tolerance policy, and somebody needs to come get her immediately.’
Monday night, she said her daughter was so upset, she asked to stay home and help clean house instead of going to school.
‘It’s a shame because it’s the end of the school year, and it’s kind of ending on a bad note now,’ she said. ‘And she didn’t deserve that. She didn’t deserve a punishment like that.
OK then. So, no obvious reason for alarm. No threats; no danger. It blows bubbles. So how can the school district’s lunatic alarmism be justified?
A spokesman with School District 27J in Brighton denied a request for an interview with the principal and the superintendent, but released a statement defending the action:
‘This suspension is consistent with our district policy as well as how Southeast has handled similar situations throughout this school year.’
However, the district policy does not necessarily support suspension in a case like this.
Ah! A clear plastic, vaguely gun-shaped toy, with visible batteries and a blue plastic “magazine” labeled “bubbles” is a “firearm facsimile that could reasonably be mistaken for an actual firearm.” I was right. These “educators” are smoking entirely too much pot. And I wonder about the “similar situations throughout this school year.” How many 5 year-olds were suspended for possession or display of toys that could not possibly harm anyone?
Isn’t there anyone in Colorado that isn’t stoned?
It’s absurd to send a 5-year-old home for a bubble-maker,’ said Nathan Woodliff, the executive director of the ACLU of Colorado. ‘This is a silly example of a very real problem. Zero-tolerance policies often mean zero common sense.’
‘We are given a brain, and we should use it,’ said Tom Mauser, a spokesman for Colorado Ceasefire, whose son died in the Columbine shooting.
Colorado Ceasefire advocates for stricter gun control laws, and Mauser initially supported zero-tolerance policies.
‘But the more stories I heard like this the more I became against zero-tolerance policies,’ said Mauser, who now thinks schools must find the difficult balance between public safety and common sense.
‘It’s perhaps a little easier to say, ‘We’re going to enforce this all across the board the same way and treat them all the same,’ said Mauser. ‘It’s very difficult for the school districts because you’ll have people complaining, ‘Why did they get this and my child got this?’ But it’s something you have to do to be fair.
Still, the school district doubled down on stupid:
Kevin Denke, a spokesman for School District 27J, wrote in an email that other students at Southeast Elementary have brought items such as Nerf guns to school and also received one-day suspensions.
Nerf guns. Brightly colored toys that shoot foam projectiles that no rational person could possibly mistake for a real gun that represented any actual danger. That’s their fall back, rational explanation for a zero-bubble toy policy. Great. I’m no fan of the ACLU in general, but in this case, they’re among the only people making sense:
Still, Woodliff-Stanley said the bubble gun case in Brighton is a clear example that ‘out-of-proportion punishment’ is still a serious issue.
‘It is counterproductive in a lot of different ways,’ said Woodliff-Stanley. ‘When children are disciplined in ways that don’t make sense, they actually lose respect for the school they don’t gain respect.
Hmm. Punishing children that have done nothing wrong being counterproductive? Who coulda thunk it?
The mother of the student who was suspended said she simply wants to raise awareness about what happened because she felt no one with the school district would listen.
Now what could have made her think anything like that?
My reason for doing this story is because the principal didn’t seem like she wanted to have a conversation with me this morning about it,’ said the mother. ‘It was a very superior attitude. She made it very clear that she didn’t care what I had to say and that it didn’t matter what I said. It was something that she was going to enforce no matter what.
It sounds like it’s time for the citizens of this school district to practice a bit of democracy. Get school board members supportive of such idiocy thrown out of office and elect rational people that don’t spend most of their time smoking dope. Then make rational policies, fire irrational principals and teachers, replacing them with actual thinking human beings rather than mindless administrative automatons.
Still, this is a good opportunity for the mother to explain to her daughter that some adults just aren’t very smart, and learning to figure out who such people are is a useful life skill.
A visit to this 2013 PJ Media article might also be instructive.
PS: What’s that you ask? How should the school have handled it? I’m glad you asked:
Teacher: “Oh, isn’t that a cute bubble gun? Thanks for bringing that to show everyone, but could we put that away please? You know how people are, and some might get upset, silly people. That’s a good girl!”
Follow this up with a phone call to the parents telling them that some irrational people might use overly restrictive school rules, so it would be best not to bring the toy to school in the future. Oh yes: be polite, and say “thank you.”