Idiots, Then School Boards

“In the first place God made idiots. That was for practice. Then He made school boards.” So says the wisdom of Mark Twain, and just this week, two separate incidents prove he’s not far off base.

SHELTON, CONNECTICUT: High school senior and advanced placement student James Tate taped a message on the side of the school building, asking a girl to go to prom with him, and earned an in-school suspension which triggered an automatic ban on attending the prom. Tate had not been in trouble before but his record and the minor nature of his infraction were apparently not considered before handing down a rubber-stamp disapproval. Really, it’s tape, people. Have a little perspective.

A groundswell of support for the teen and his date – who said yes, by the way – included calls, letters, and emails to the school office and local newspapers and a more unusual “Let James Tate Go to the Prom” Facebook page with over 193,000 fans as of this writing, all demanding that Tate be allowed to take his date to the prom. After holding firm to her decision for a week, the principal finally relented today and will allow Tate to attend the prom.

DAYTON VIEW ACADEMY, OHIO: But the same day the Connecticut principal reversed her decision, a straight-A eighth-grade student was suspended from her prom for … get this … reporting two students having sex on a school bus. The bus was full of students and in motion, and there were eight – count them EIGHT – chaperons on the bus at the time, but they were busy at the front of the bus watching a movie. The students involved in the sexual behavior are being punished, but so is the girl who reported them. She is being held liable for waiting until she got home and telling her mother, who then reported it to the proper authorities. I’d like to repeat something here: There were eight chaperons on the bus. Why weren’t they doing their job? I am not going to fault a twelve- or thirteen-year-old kid for being afraid to go forward in front of all her friends and the people perpetrating the misdeed and report them! At least she did report it. I will fault the chaperons for not chaperoning, and the school board for punishing a child for stepping up to do the right thing!

The proliferation of this type of zero-tolerance judgment is just incredible. We’re punishing students for doing the right thing but not on the school’s schedule or punishing good kids for pulling totally harmless pranks. I hope someone will be starting a Facebook fan page for the Dayton View Academy eighth grader soon.

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