Skip to content

Zero Tolerance Revisited

September 27, 2010

On Friday, I posted (original post here) about an activist group named “Invisible Children” that visited my son’s middle school to talk about the problems of Ugandan children being forced into servitude and combat for the warlord Joseph Kony.  While I have no problem with the message this group is set out to deliver, I do have a problem with some of its practices as well as Robious Middle School.

In my first post, I talked about this organization selling my son a pin in the shape of a gun.  Having heard the horror stories of children being suspended from schools for drawing pictures of guns or wearing clothing depicting guns, I emailed the principal, Mr. Javaid Siddiqi, for a clarification of the policy.

His reply, “Yes, we do not approve of young people wearing these type symbols on their clothing or accessories.  This was an oversight regarding what merchandise this organization could sell on school grounds.  I am sorry that we have created an issue for your son and would be happy to refund his money.”

Ok, I can live with an oversight in approving what merchandise an advocacy group can sell in my son’s school, but were there no teachers at the assembly?  Were no school officials around during the sale of this merchandise?  The assembly was at the end of the day so the pin did not have much opportunity to circulate around the school to see if teachers would tell my son to take it off(no one did)nor is my son willing to wear it back to school for fear of getting into trouble.

This organization has spoken at many schools prior to Robious Middle, and I find it hard to believe they are unaware of the zero tolerance policies of most school systems in America.  Thusly I can only conclude they do not care.  I will grant their cause is just, but that does not give them the right to break our school’s policies.

So we have one of the more controversial policies in our school systems being ignored by the faculty and staff of our school systems.  While I personally do not agree with the zero tolerance policy, I do think if you enact a policy you need to enforce it, 100% of the time.  Despite the mea culpa in the email from Mr. Siddiqi, the school did not inform the children they could not wear those pins anymore; some unsuspecting children will be surprised in a few days.

The worst victim of this is my son.  What are we teaching him?  The rules only apply to some people?  You wasted your money because you can’t wear that pin to the primary social place in your life?

This school has shown once again the two-way street most Americans live under where the government is allowed to break its own rules they demand we follow.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. A Robious Middle School student permalink
    October 31, 2010 11:16 pm

    Invisible Children is an organization that I am very passionate about. I’m sorry about the situation, but I don’t think Invisible Children is trying to send a message that guns are okay and shouldn’t be take seriously. I know that there are many things that children buy that are considered “inappropriate” for school, but they are not clueless to these policies. We had an assembly, before Invisible Children visited our school, that made it very clear that students could not wear anything that promoted violence or depicted weapons. I think the best way to look at it is that your son contributed to an important cause and he helped someone in need.

    • October 31, 2010 11:32 pm

      Wow, I absolutely appreciate your views on this issue and am glad you commented. I think what might have been missed in my post was the hypocrisy in our schools and in the Invisible Children organization for blatantly disregarding rules that have been rightly criticized in the media. I will say right now, I think the Invisible Children program is good work, and I will also say, I think the zero tolerance rules in our schools are ridiculous.

      I was not trying to suggest the Invisible Children group was bad. What I was trying to say was they should know the rules of the schools they come to. Why do we have zero tolerance rules? The reasons are dumb, but one reason is so people don’t get harmed by any images of guns, knives, etc. If that is the proposed reason behind rules for expelling children from school for bringing a butter knife in their lunchbox, then actually selling my child a pin in the shape of a gun is demonstrably worse. But again, the problem is not the pin or the butter knife, it is the hypocrisy of selectively enforcing a zero tolerance policy.

      Please comment on this again if you have anything else to say, I am truly interested in your opinion. Thank you so much. =)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: