Thursday, February 18, 2010

Kids! (Reprise)

Kids! They are just impossible to control,
Kids! With their awful clothes and their rock and roll!

Oh, wait! That was me!

I am extremely lucky to have been invited to judge the junior division of the Fulton County Schools' Science and Engineering Fair earlier today. The junior division is middle school students, seventh and eighth graders. I saw middle-school kids in suits and {gasp!} dresses!

OK... appearances aren't everything, and sometimes they aren't anything, but I am encouraged that these kids are learning that appearances do count.  It looks like they're learning that from their parents, too.  One can hope that they're learning other, equally important, lessons at home, and it seems likely they are.

In some cases the science was a little shaky, but in other cases the kids nailed it dead.  What struck me in almost every instance was curiosity and a desire to learn.  (These kids need to figure out that Wikipedia isn't everything, but that will come.)  I met one child whom I'd be happy to have in my college classroom.  I can find it in my heart to hope I live to see one of these kids become President.

Meanwhile, back in reality, I came home to read on about a child the same age as the kids I was working with being taken away in handcuffs for doodling on a school desk with a marking pen.  Morons!  When I was in high school, it was not uncommon to find something like "Joe {heart-with-arrow} Cindy" actually carved into the desk with a pen knife.  (All boys were Joe, Bob, or Bill, and all girls were Cindy, Kathy, or Barbara in those days.)  Of course, if a boy got caught doing this, he'd find out how compatible his bottom was with the assistant principal's paddle, but no one would have even thought about it being a matter for the police.  (Don't know what would have happened to a girl.  As far as I know, the paddle was reserved for boys.)  Having a pen knife at school today would probably get you 20 years in Leavenworth!

Modern school desks seem to be made of wood-grained impervium.  A little scouring powder will remove anything.  This kid probably should have had a finger shaken in her face; handcuffs are way beyond the pale.

All might not be lost.  The CNN story quotes a Clayton County (Georgia) juvenile court judge as saying "zero intelligence" about such "zero tolerance" cases.

I don't have to run for election, so I can say, "dumb as a doorknob!"  Parents, "zero-tolerance" laws and regulations do not protect your children; they threaten your children with arrest records.  Remember in November.  I came home ready to write about how great kids are today and ended up writing about how dumb adults are.  What a shame!

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