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I hate when this happens
October 6, 2001 4:07 PM   Subscribe

I hate when this happens over and over again. Kid suspended for drawing exploding skyscrapers, and when asked why he did it "grinned."
posted by HoldenCaulfield (29 comments total)

 
Oh, come on. It's a terrible tragedy, but suspension is hardly in order. We've beamed the images into the brains of every American for weeks and we're surprised that a kid is drawing burning buildings instead of blowing up army men with M-80s. Sure, he shouldn't derive joy from this, but since he's been left with no real outlet for whatever feelings he originally felt before being pummelled with the images over-and-over, I don't see this as entirely unexpected.
posted by shagoth at 4:12 PM on October 6, 2001


Having seen the picture in question, I don't think this is as clear cut as it seems. I think that this child wasn't just drawing a picture of what occured on 9/11, but was actually planning another plane attack, to be carried out by the little known elementary school arm of Al Queda.
I hated school when I was little. Too bad it wasn't so easy to get suspended back then.
posted by Doug at 4:16 PM on October 6, 2001


Personally I agree with what you said shagoth, I see now that my position in my post wasn't very clear. What I meant was I hate when kids are suspended, not that they draw these things.

One more thing, first day back from the weekend for my oral in English I'm going to grin while saying, "It would have been better had it happened at 11 instead of 9."
posted by HoldenCaulfield at 4:21 PM on October 6, 2001


Overreaction is to be expected after such an emotionally charged event, and unwarranted suspensions are only another manifestation of that, and one that had to be expected given the overreaction in which schools already partook.

After years of ridicule, political correctness has only grown stronger. It manifests itself most visibly in how it affects the members of our society who don't have the thin protection of "rights," the children. In the name of protecting them most often, or, as in this case, because they are not adult enough to censor or find appropriate forum for possibly offensive expression. Not that that's the whole point of being a child or anything. Children get expelled for drawing guns and pointing chicken fingers "in a manner resembling the shooting of a gun," I'm not surprised at all that they are being expelled for not correctly understanding the implications of a national tragedy; Namely: "Better not disagree with the majority!"

We're lucky expulsion and suspension are the two harshest weapons of a school system, or else our prisons would be filling at twice their already incredible rate.
posted by Nothing at 4:36 PM on October 6, 2001


I got a phone call when one of my daughters was in jr high because she drew something that was allegedly a gang symbol. This child was not in a gang-she had been homeschooled for the previous four years for heaven's sake.....i just about chewed the ear off that guidance counselor....I have other stories but I will spare you.

All I want to know is where they have buried common sense. I wish to lay flowers at the grave..................
posted by bunnyfire at 4:47 PM on October 6, 2001


What pisses me off about the article is how the father sort of just rolls his eyes and whines about proper counseling. No! That's not the problem.

The kid was commanded to depict a scene. The kid was then punished for his REACTION to being confronted with his art. I can't think of a clearer example of punishment for a thought crime.

Teachers unions need to go.
posted by Real9 at 5:21 PM on October 6, 2001


I'm a staunch supporter of the public school system - but unfortunately the types of people attracted to jobs in the public teaching field aren't always the best or the brightest. When I was in college it was routine for people who couldn't hack there chosen major to switch to education because it was known as such a slack way out with a degree. From my own public school experience I can honestly say that some of the most screwed up, out of touch people I've ever come across have been public teachers. Teaching should pay better - obviously - but I think increased importance should be paid on the college level in order to produce better teachers to begin with. Until that day we can expect bone headed teachers and principles to continue with this sort of bullshit. What's sad is that I hold these harsh opinions when the great majority of teachers do try hard to provide a balanced experience for children.
posted by wfrgms at 5:34 PM on October 6, 2001


We subject children to violent images practically from birth. Be it violent cartoons about little Pokemons beating the crap out of each other, or full length feature films from which a lame rating system is supposed to protect them. What kid in America hasn't seen Die Hard? Or Terminator 2? Or played the videogames?

Then when the kids spout the violence back at us, we're offended? Y'all might just be shocked and dismayed by the American school system, but I can't help but laugh at the absurdity apparent here. I'm damn proud to be an American where a kid can freely draw crude pictures of burning buildings and be rewarded by not having to go to school! In Afghanistan, if the kid drew Christian symbols or images where terrorists get blown up by American troops, that kid woulda gotten his own personal execution. He'd be dead. We're not over-reacting here in America. It's completely logical we're a bit emotionally sensitive, considering the circumstances. I think the Taliban has cornered the market on over-reacting.

The kid got a few days vacation from school. If I were in his shoes I'd be smiling too.
posted by ZachsMind at 5:52 PM on October 6, 2001


I love the quote "(the kid's) behavior has to change"

just so reminiscent of what elementary school is. fitting you into that little box and removing any diversity in personality that might have once existed in one'self.
posted by Robin at 6:58 PM on October 6, 2001


For what it's worth, just because the kid was smiling doesn't mean he was happy. Lots of kids (such as me when I was a kid), when they get in trouble, they smile as a nervous reaction, not because they're happy about what they did.

Granted, people are oversensitized to violent images right now, but the best that will happen is that kid now knows how to write himself a 3 day pass; worst case, he learns that expressing his emotions, even in cases of trauma and loss, isn't socially acceptable. Like that kid in Sixth Sense, from now on he'll draw rainbows and people smiling, because that kind of thing doesn't make people have meetings.
posted by RylandDotNet at 7:09 PM on October 6, 2001


The funny thing is, this kid gets suspended, other kids draw the same thing and the New York Times showcases them as artistic expression.
posted by matthew at 7:09 PM on October 6, 2001


School Principal Jeff Boyer knows art when he sees it!!
posted by skallas at 7:14 PM on October 6, 2001


District spokesman Ben Helt said it was Paul's grinning - not the drawing - that brought the suspension. He would not discuss specifics of how Paul acted.

"It was terribly dangerous to let your thoughts wander when you were in any public place or within range of a telescreen. The smallest thing could give you away. A nervous tic, an unconscious look of anxiety, a habit of muttering to yourself -- anything that carried with it the suggestion of abnormality, of having something to hide. In any case, to wear an improper expression on your face (to look incredulous when a victory was announced, for example) was itself a punishable offence. There was even a word for it in Newspeak: facecrime, it was called." - George Orwell, 1984
posted by tpoh.org at 7:36 PM on October 6, 2001


the types of people attracted to jobs in the public teaching field aren't always the best or the brightest.When I was in college it was routine for people who couldn't hack there chosen major to switch to education because it was known as such a slack way out with a degree.

And I know just as many people who joined the teaching fields because, god forbid, they believe that they should help others, they want to make a difference. That may mean that they are not that bright, choosing to do something different over making money. Or that may make them idealists.

Thank you for classifying many of my friends and family as idiots. None of them switched fields to get there, and many had better paying jobs they left to become a teacher. Many of them also had more than one degree, like many teachers today.
posted by stoneegg21 at 10:43 PM on October 6, 2001


I wouldn't blame teachers' unions. We had quite a few incidents like this at my high school after Columbine and teachers' unions are a joke down here. It was the administrators that taught students and teachers alike to rat out students that seemed to be 'acting strangely'.

If I remember, the protocol is supposed to be that the teacher notices any questionable behavior and alerts the counselors who bring in the 'special therapists' to ascertain the student's killing potential. From there they tell the administrative how strict the punishment should be. If a student got in trouble second period rather than first, the first period teacher would get in trouble for not spotting the troubled teen first.

The problem is that administrators are scared to be liable if a student should actually act out.
posted by witchycal at 10:52 PM on October 6, 2001


Overreaction is to be expected after such an emotionally charged event

Expected, yes, but it should NOT be tolerated the way it is. Why excuse people who cross the line into irrationality and destructive behavior, just because they are "emotionally distraught?" They are still responsible for their choices and their actions. If they are impaired by their emotions to this degree, then they have become unfit for their positions and should remove themselves until they can once again "handle it." More and more our so-called "educators" are teaching precisely the WRONG lessons to kids. It's pathetic. And saying "oh, they only do it cuz they're SO upset," doesn't help.
posted by rushmc at 12:50 AM on October 7, 2001


rushmc, did you read the rest of my post? I said it was to be expected, based on the ridiculous irrationality already present in our school systems. That I am not surprised does not mean I think it's okay, quite the opposite, but this one event is a drop in the bucket. The problem has been mounting for the past ten years at least, and it's so obvious that I could have tod you on the day of the attacks that children would be expelled for having the wrong reaction. I'm surprised it's only been one.

What is the solution though? That's the real question. It's obvious that everyone here feels similarly disgusted by the action, but what do we do to change it? Many parents are easily manipulated into giving more authority to schools through the use of scare tactics, and most parents have neither the time nor the inclination to go in and confront administrators until it;s their child being expelled or suspended. Even then many react as the father in this story, simply assuming the school must be right, but whining for a reduced punishment It's obvious that administrators need to have the power to discipline children for disruptive and hurtful behavior, but how do you do that in an institutionalized, large scale manner? Part of the problem is that children, because they are children, need guidance and correction on an individual level, not just punishment. That's the big problem with zero tolerance policies (well, second biggest problem, the biggest is their sheer stupidity), they teach nothing.

Schools and school systems are much larger than the basic structure is capable of handling well. The organizational and legislative duties are on a par with a small government, but there are few checks and balances, and the "citizens" are largely without voice except through parents, and the parents are not involved or close enough to the situation to understand what's happening. (I can't recall how many times my Mother was told by an administrator "But you just don't understand the situation." as a means of invalidating her input, but it was in the double digits)

The solution can't be parent involvement, because frankly, that's not likely to change. A student right, not just on paper, but in practise and explained to students, to appeal administrator decisions would be a good start. Though I had to jump on the bandwagon, a student bill of rights would be good. Or better yet, official recognition of THE Bill of Rights in schools. I know it would cause problems, create hassles, and people would abuse the system, but that's a given, it happens already. People will abuse any system, we're contrary that way.
posted by Nothing at 1:43 AM on October 7, 2001


I'm a staunch supporter of the public school system - but unfortunately the types of people attracted to jobs in the public teaching field aren't always the best or the brightest
maybe when teachers' salaries aren't pathetic anymore the best and the brightest will, like, be more inclined to become teachers,?
posted by matteo at 5:34 AM on October 7, 2001


Nope. The best and brightest will be terrified at the thought of working alongside and under boneheads of this magnitude. I wanted to be a teacher for most of my life. I got to college, took a few education classes, met a few High School teachers, and immediately decided that this was not a group that I wanted to be a part of.

Public high school teachers are subject to such utterly inane demands, prohibitions and regulations that it's nigh impossible for the most energetic among them to maintain much enthusiasm for the job. Litigious parents, cowardly administrators, and School Boards (made up of the worst elements of both of these groups) all feel that they have something useful to contribute in telling the teacher how to do his or her job. It's like working at a job where you have 75 bosses, all in conflict with one another.

If this kid's teacher had seen the drawing and not reported it to the administrator, then the kid turned around and did anything mildly whacko for the rest of the school year, can you imagine the wailing and rending of garments that would have taken place? The teacher and the principal would have been castigated for "not reading the signs". Administrators, post-Columbine, are taught to "suspend first, ask questions later". That appears to be what happened here. Unfortunate for the kid, but not the least bit surprising.
posted by Optamystic at 6:29 AM on October 7, 2001


rushmc, did you read the rest of my post?

I did indeed. I was not trying to dispute your post, or to imply that you held the views I was railing against; rather, I took your point and ran with it in my outrage. Sorry if it appeared otherwise!
posted by rushmc at 8:32 AM on October 7, 2001


In the first place God made idiots. This was for practice. Then he made School Boards.

Mark Twain

heh. i could even post this over here.
posted by lescour at 8:33 AM on October 7, 2001


the jefferson county northwest school district R1 and principal boyer's north jefferson intermediate school have no web presence or email. jefferson county does, however, ensure that one is easily able to contact a sex offender, should you have a need to communicate with one.
posted by quonsar at 8:44 AM on October 7, 2001


RylandDotNet, I was going to post something similar. Even as an adult, my reaction to be nervous or in an uncomfortable situation is sometimes smiling, which is usually not the appropriate response. And it's just a horrible feeling to be unable to wipe a grin off your face when the last thing you want to do is laugh.
posted by phichens at 12:33 PM on October 7, 2001


maybe when teachers' salaries aren't pathetic anymore the best and the brightest will, like, be more inclined to become teachers

Maybe when everybody and their brother isn't getting degrees in education and itching to become teachers, the law of supply and demand will take care of that.

The trouble is, a lot of people want to become teachers, or do so by default because the courseworks' easier than some other degree, and far too many have no real aptitude for it yet receive degrees anyway.
posted by kindall at 12:46 PM on October 7, 2001


"Even as an adult, my reaction to be nervous or in an uncomfortable situation is sometimes smiling, which is usually not the appropriate response."

Actually, that's like me too. But I've learned to harness this. Being that it seems to unseat people so much (strange how a look on your face can do that) you can use it to gain control of a situation.

Try it and you'll see its possible. It's helped me numerous times... :) (Note to students: Go ahead. Next time you are having trouble with a staff member, look them right in the eyes and smirk. They'll never know that you really don't have an Ace up your sleeve.)

BTW: Don't come crying to me if this backfires on you. It has on me before, and it could get you in a lot of trouble.
posted by shepd at 5:17 PM on October 7, 2001


Maybe when everybody and their brother isn't getting degrees in education and itching to become teachers, the law of supply and demand will take care of that.

This statement seems rather at odds with the severe shortage of teachers in much of the nation, which often forces schools to hire people with few or no qualifications in order to accommodate demand at all.
posted by rushmc at 5:59 PM on October 7, 2001


Yeah, there's such a shortage that my sister, with a master's in education, has basically given up on trying to get a teaching job.
posted by kindall at 6:24 PM on October 7, 2001


Tell her to move to Texas.
posted by rushmc at 7:28 PM on October 7, 2001


Oops, forgot the link.
posted by rushmc at 7:31 PM on October 7, 2001


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