- The Washington Times - Saturday, June 16, 2001

Perhaps we have been too hard on the teachers. Maybe a lot of the problem lies with school administrators. Judging by how some school superintendents are reacting to perceived threats of violence, you have to wonder how they could be in charge of educating anyone. Children are being unreasonably punished for minor offenses such as drawing a picture of a gun. I would imagine that hollering "Bang" with such a picture in hand could result in a jail sentence in some school districts.

In Florida, an honors student was prevented from attending her graduation when a kitchen knife was found in her car at school. Even a U.S. District judge upheld the decision, which should be no surprise. There was no time left to appeal, so the girl who would graduate with honors instead graduates with a police record. It seems a sheriff´s deputy spotted a kitchen knife with a 51/2-inch serrated blade in the car. This falls under the heading of bringing a weapon on campus. I would presume jack handles are exempt.

The girl plans to attend Florida Gulf Coast University where the school´s president has said the university will raise money for her tuition if she doesn´t receive a state scholarship because of her arrest. The decision by the university president confirms the true meaning of higher education, and perhaps the school superintendent and the judge might want to return to whatever university felt they had completed their education to take a refresher course in common sense and compassion.

New Mexico is just as bad. School officials there suspended a 6-year-old kindergarten student for nine days for yelling that he was going to kill a schoolmate. Imagine a kindergarten student running amok during recess. They even considered suspending him for the rest of the year. What kind of mark does this leave on the mind of a child? This highly educated school superintendent evidently is unable to distinguish a serious threat from one that is made many times by the very young. I wouldn´t want this man running a day-care center.

In Monroe, La., an 8-year-old honors student was suspended for drawing a G.I. Joe-like commando armed with a canteen in one hand and a knife in the other. The school principal said the drawing was upsetting. The child also drew a fort with an inventory list of items such as guns, knives and even a first-aid kit. This is the kind of thing that gives education a bad name The child, no doubt, has been exposed to guns and war every time his parents watch the evening news. Maybe the kid has seen too many "Pearl Harbor" film clips.

Another educated principal in Annapolis has banned the game of tag during recess. These are grade-school students. The principal, Joan Brisco, says she didn´t want the children to get hurt. She claims they do not have a no-touching policy, it is simply a safety issue. Sure it is. I wonder how she feels about soccer or football? If these kinds of decisions are being made at the top, no wonder the education system is suffering.

Dick Boland is a nationally syndicated columnist.

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