Sunday, the New York Times had a story about Zachary Christie, a first grader from Newark, Delaware who was suspended after being caught at school with a cub scout tool that features a knife, fork, and spoon. You see, Zachary thought it was kind of cool and brought it to school to use for lunch.
I think you can see where this is headed:
But, based on the code of conduct for the Christina School District, where Zachary is a first grader, school officials had no choice. They had to suspend him because, “regardless of possessor’s intent,” knives are banned. […]
Still, some school administrators argue that it is difficult to distinguish innocent pranks and mistakes from more serious threats, and that the policies must be strict to protect students.
“There is no parent who wants to get a phone call where they hear that their child no longer has two good seeing eyes because there was a scuffle and someone pulled out a knife,” said George Evans, the president of the Christina district’s school board. He defended the decision, but added that the board might adjust the rules when it comes to younger children like Zachary.
Unfortunately, I’m sure we’ve all heard of something like this all too often in the years since the 1999 Columbine shooting. I thought that things had returned to sanity, but according to the article, rules were tightened up again in a lot of districts following the Virginia Tech shootings two and half years ago.
I have only one thing to ask: Where has common sense gone? Are people so afraid of something happening that they’ll willingly accept a nanny-state policy that does nothing? I’m fairly comfortable defending the previous sentence because, even after the first wave of zero-tolerance rules, school shootings still happened. So what do these policies protect against exactly? Right. Not much, if anything. Except, you know, camping utensil and Tylenol carrying-students…
Anyway, you can visit Help Zachary, the website the boy’s parents have set up to promote their cause of overturning their son’s suspension. And for anyone who lives in Newark, Delaware, there is a school board meeting tomorrow at 7:30 at Porter Road Elementary School. If you can go, please do so to show your support for a boy who did nothing but express enthusiasm for a piece of technology he just thought was awesome.
Also, if you have Twitter, you can help as well. Retweet this tweet in order to spread the message. I wouldn’t mind getting the hashtag #zacharychristie to a trending topic, either, but the message about the school board meeting is much more important. Thanks to everybody who’s done their part!
I’d also urge people who hear of similar incidents in their own municipalities to go before their school boards and demand that these unnecessary rules be repealed.