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Boy Gets in Trouble at School with "No Touching" Policy
June 24, 2007 12:02 PM   Subscribe

Boy's Hug Lands Him in Trouble At School With "No Touching" Policy. 7th grader Hal Beaulieu "hopped up from his lunch table one day a few months ago, sat next to his girlfriend and slipped his arm around her shoulder. That landed him a trip to the school office." Handshakes could be gang signs, and officials note, "in a culturally diverse school...families might have different views of what is appropriate." The PTA President remarks: ""Even high-fives can get out of hand ... someone can get bonked in the head." (CNN News Video)
posted by shivohum (108 comments total)

 
My high school implemented a "no hugging" policy at some point, I remember, because teen couples would hug each other in the halls between classes. I think it's reasonable to restrict public displays of affection between little 12 year olds or whatever who are dating. That said a no handshake or high-five thing seems pretty crazy.

Also, it seems like America's puritanical streak really underlies everything and is just as strong with 'liberals' as it is with religious fundies.
posted by delmoi at 12:09 PM on June 24, 2007 [2 favorites]


I blame video games
posted by b1tr0t at 12:10 PM on June 24, 2007


All these rules. Sheesh.
posted by autodidact at 12:15 PM on June 24, 2007 [2 favorites]


even a high fives can get out of control!!!
posted by Doorstop at 12:15 PM on June 24, 2007


Yes, a NO TOUCHING AT ALL NO EXCEPTIONS OMG GANG FIGHT!!!!!!!!!!!!!! policy is certainly a great way to prepare children for adulthood. There's no hand-shaking in college or the workplace.
posted by scody at 12:16 PM on June 24, 2007 [2 favorites]


American society is so broken. The atmosphere of fear is so pervasive that your kids can't even hug each other? FFS, it's as if the true American dream is to be a bubble-boy for one's life.
posted by five fresh fish at 12:16 PM on June 24, 2007 [15 favorites]


Yeah, I think PDA restrictions are pretty normal aren't they. That said, what the world needs is more hugs not less. I think 'hello' type hugs should be encouraged!! MOAR HUGZ PLZ.
posted by Firas at 12:16 PM on June 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


Being touched by people you like is totally overrated anyhow.

Oh, wait, no it's not.
posted by miss lynnster at 12:18 PM on June 24, 2007 [4 favorites]


This "culture" seems to hit some absurd new low each week.
posted by milarepa at 12:19 PM on June 24, 2007


so, they've discontinued football and wrestling, right?
posted by pyramid termite at 12:20 PM on June 24, 2007 [7 favorites]


I'm not really sure I understand why every week the news media pulls out one example of ridiculousness from middle schools across the nation and posts it up as an example of some sort of culture war. Of course a middle school is being ridiculous. Middle schools ARE RIDICULOUS. I remember at my middle school, teachers in the halls would break up PDAs- this just seems like a codification of that, along with the usual middle school idiocy. I'm not sure it really means anything; there's no there there.
posted by 235w103 at 12:25 PM on June 24, 2007 [2 favorites]


What, no SWAT team?
posted by The Card Cheat at 12:26 PM on June 24, 2007


Aww, come on, metafilter group hug!
posted by Hildegarde at 12:26 PM on June 24, 2007


What the world needs now is love, sweet love.
posted by katillathehun at 12:27 PM on June 24, 2007


I like how the PTA President in the CNN Video link is just what you might imagine her to be.
posted by shivohum at 12:27 PM on June 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


Geez, I can remember flagrantly slapping the backside of my sixth grade boyfriend during lunch hour. I wonder how that would have turned out here.

I remember reading (In a Carl Sagan book, strangely, though I can't remember which one now) that the two periods in a person's life when physical contact/affection were most important to their cognitive development were infancy and early adolescence. This rule just seems inhuman to me. I could see outlawing actual kissing or groping, but handshakes? Arms around shoulders?
posted by frobozz at 12:31 PM on June 24, 2007


Right up there with --

Massachusetts elementary school bans playing tag at recess [previously discussed].
posted by ericb at 12:33 PM on June 24, 2007


This reminds me of Jonathan Prevett, the six year old boy that kissed a girl on the cheek and got charged with sexual harrassment in 1996. Which was just NUTS. It's just sad because touch is the primary means of learning about the world throughout infancy, well into childhood. Touch is critical for children’s growth, development, and health, as well as for physical and mental well-being.

People are freaking stupid.
posted by miss lynnster at 12:35 PM on June 24, 2007 [3 favorites]


That said, what the world needs is more hugs not less

What the World Needs Now!
posted by ericb at 12:36 PM on June 24, 2007


Also bums me out because I remember when I was younger, my friends & I used to always give eachother affectionate platonic shoulder rubs. Male AND female friends. Sad to think that's verboten now because it was a bonding thing that really helped us learn how to comfortably show affection WITHOUT being sexual or making it a big deal. For us, it was just a harmless way to show kindness towards people you liked... a little gift to make them feel good.
posted by miss lynnster at 12:42 PM on June 24, 2007


When I was in high school, there was a distinct group of kids that were referred to as "the huggers". Refered to by everyone else, that is; I don't know if they called themselves anything.

They just hugged each other all the time - during hello and goodbye, to celebrate any minor achievement or commemorate any kindness... and they'd try to hug anyone, too. You could always sense them leaning their shoulders towards yours ever-so-slightly, poised to hug.

Along with "the smokers", "the nerds" (that's how every else referred to us; we didn't call ourselves anything), "the auto shop guys" and "the football team", the huggers were a major clique.

But too much hugging and too little hugging are both wrong. Sheesh!
posted by chudmonkey at 12:43 PM on June 24, 2007


Hugging could lead to cuddle parties. And we all know what that leads too. Do I have to spell it out?

Ecstasy fueled rainbow parties!
posted by delmoi at 12:50 PM on June 24, 2007


Come now. Was he really disciplined for the hug, or for the loaded shotgun he brandished while hugging?
posted by L. Fitzgerald Sjoberg at 12:50 PM on June 24, 2007 [6 favorites]


Does anyone feel at least slightly sad for this kid who's unwittingly stepped into being a poster child for touching in school?
posted by roll truck roll at 12:52 PM on June 24, 2007


Was he really disciplined for the hug, or for the loaded shotgun he brandished while hugging?

THE GIRL WAS CHOKING!! ... HE HUGGED HER TO GET THE FOOD OUT OF HER THROAT!! ... THE SHOTGUN WAS TO KEEP HER PROTECTED FROM THE DEADLY SWEDISH MEATBALLS THAT WERE TRYING TO KILL HER!!
posted by pyramid termite at 12:52 PM on June 24, 2007


American society is so broken.

The fact that this is a news item on CNN indicates that this might not be representative of American society.
posted by me & my monkey at 12:54 PM on June 24, 2007


Students won't get busted if they high-five in class after answering a difficult math problem

Kids actually do this in class these days? Reminds me of the football players who spike the ball after making a 6-yard catch for a first down in a game they're losing by three touchdowns.
posted by The Card Cheat at 1:05 PM on June 24, 2007


Not to kick anybody's soapboxes out from under their feet, but that kid looks like a fucking creep.
posted by phaedon at 1:14 PM on June 24, 2007


Heh. Yeah I was going to comment on that too, The Card Cheat. The principal seems pretty naive.

"Dude I figured out the variable!"

"Nice! Algebra rocks!"

*high five*
posted by the other side at 1:15 PM on June 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


Handshakes could be gang signs? Right, so restricting handshakes will surely curb gang violence. This reminds me of my high school's strict 'no head coverings' policy (unless for religious reasons), which landed me in trouble once when I wore the hood of my puffy coat up one day in a cold classroom, and an administrator came in and made me stop. It really did a lot to curb my school's completely non-existant gang warfare.
posted by showbiz_liz at 1:15 PM on June 24, 2007


even a high fives can get out of control!!!

You joke, but it's true. It's a slippery slope from the innocuous fun of "Up High" to the hurt feelings, shame, and inevitable ostracization of those deemed "Too Slow".

*Runs under the bleachers, cries*
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 1:17 PM on June 24, 2007 [26 favorites]


I don't think you guys are seeing the potential dangers here. They could get bonked!
posted by Mikey-San at 1:17 PM on June 24, 2007


Drugs, not hugs.
posted by rhymer at 1:18 PM on June 24, 2007 [2 favorites]


Come now. Was he really disciplined for the hug, or for the loaded shotgun he brandished while hugging?

Define "hugging".
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:18 PM on June 24, 2007


OMFG! PUBLIC SCHOOLS ARE NUTS! WE NEEDZ VOUCHERS OR WES ALL GONNA DIE!
posted by wfrgms at 1:20 PM on June 24, 2007


You'll shoot yer eye out!!!
posted by The Deej at 1:21 PM on June 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


Does anyone feel at least slightly sad for this kid who's unwittingly stepped into being a poster child for touching in school?

Not really.
posted by delmoi at 1:22 PM on June 24, 2007


I strongly encourage this overtly cautious behavior on the part of conservative school systems. If we can discourage children from touching in public, it may also discourage them from breeding, which will help to further the extinction of the species. I'm all for that. In fact I think all adolescents should only be allowed to attend school after wrapping themselves entirely in polystyrene. Children of all ages should also be forced by law to stop drooling in public. Or sneezing... or breathing.
/scrooge
posted by ZachsMind at 1:26 PM on June 24, 2007


And y'all wonder why homeschooling is on the rise. It ain't just us Christian fundies, neither.

If I had my way middle schools would NOT EXIST. When I put my kids back in public school (after homeschooling) my son had no problems whatsoever adjusting to high school. But middle school was an unadulterated pile of stupidity and ignorance.

(Once, after getting called to the school regarding one of my children-my sweetest, most well behaved one, I might add- I was walking down the hall to the teacher's room to meet with her when I looked down and saw an unrolled condom in the hallway. This in the middle school in the "best" district, of course. Armed with that little bit of trivia, my meeting with the teacher didn't exactly go the way SHE wanted it to go. Heh.)

Thank God my children are all grown now. Yeesh.
posted by konolia at 1:27 PM on June 24, 2007


I was kicked out of Middle School for violating the "No Touching Yourself" rule.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 1:29 PM on June 24, 2007 [5 favorites]


shivohum: wow, you're absolutely right. It seemed like any minute she was going to seriously doubt the reporter's commitment to Sparkle Motion.

Just to be the devil's advocate for a moment, I can see a justification for a "no touching" policy. It's not that kids shouldn't high-five or shake hands or even hug, it's that the teachers and staff should use the broad policy to make reasonable judgment calls.

Assume for the sake of argument that there's a consensus that PDAs are inappropriate in school. You could make a "no kissing" policy, but that leaves kids open for romantic embraces, or getting to second base (as long as they don't dive in head-first, like Pete Rose). You could follow it up with "no hugging" and "no limb-to-torso or to-legs or to-pelvis contact" policies, but then you've prohibited the friendly hugs and back-pats that most people would consider a good thing.

Not to mention that OMGganghandshakes are still permitted. So you prohibit the gang handshakes you know about, and the gangs just come up with new ones, and dontcha know that those non-criminal teenagers will adopt the old, expired gang signs as a form of ironic expression, so you're hauling "good kids" to the principal's office while the gang members laugh and continue selling the pots and pimping the hose or whatever it is that kids do these days.

I guess what I'm saying is, specific policies are never going to be accurate or detailed enough without becoming so complex that no one reads them. So you technically prohibit everything, and hire people with enough common sense to only enforce it when needed.
posted by Riki tiki at 1:30 PM on June 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


prohibit everything, and hire people with enough common sense to only enforce it when needed.

Rumsfeld's constitutional wet dream.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 1:34 PM on June 24, 2007 [2 favorites]


Oh yeah? You think THIS is the sign of american culture being screwed up? My personal favorite is Fathers kissing their children (some times on the lips!). Mothers do it all the time, but if the dad does the same thing "OH NOES SEXUAL ABUZE!".
posted by blue_beetle at 1:45 PM on June 24, 2007


Sounds like Fairfax County, Virginia has some severe dysfunctionality issues. A place that has to pass rules like that is NOT where I want to raise my family, regardless of what the reason is or whose fault it is.
posted by rolypolyman at 1:45 PM on June 24, 2007


There are many ways in which people may violate each other's personal/social boundaries.

For example, in the US Army regulations it defines categories of sexual harassment:

* Verbal – Examples of verbal sexual harassment may include telling sexual jokes; using sexually explicit profanity, threats, sexually oriented cadences, or sexual comments.

* Nonverbal – Examples of nonverbal sexual harassment may include staring at someone (that is, “undressing someone with one’s eyes"), blowing kisses, winking, or licking one’s lips in a suggestive manner.

* Physical Contact - Examples of physical sexual harassment may include touching, patting, pinching, bumping, grabbing, cornering, or blocking a passageway; kissing; and providing unsolicited back or neck rubs."

This no touching school rule supposes that verbal and non-verbal communication are less harmful or dangerous rather than teach the kids how to have healthy social boundaries with either gender.

"Scolding, swearing, yelling, blaming, insulting, threatening, ridiculing, demeaning, and criticizing can be as harmful as physical abuse, sexual abuse outside the home, or witnessing physical abuse at home," notes the April 2007 issue of the Harvard Mental Health Letter.
posted by nickyskye at 1:45 PM on June 24, 2007


I looked down and saw an unrolled condom in the hallway

It had likely been used as a prop at a school assembly. I bet Bill O'Reilly would be interested in your story!
posted by ericb at 1:59 PM on June 24, 2007


Ya' know pre-teens and teens have been known to use condoms and tampons to play practical jokes on each other.
posted by ericb at 2:01 PM on June 24, 2007


I was walking down the hall to the teacher's room to meet with her when I looked down and saw an unrolled condom in the hallway. This in the middle school in the "best" district, of course.

Yeah, sure, but saying that it's the best district in Fayetteville is damning with faint praise, akin to the cleanest yard in Love Canal or the best teeth in Britain.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 2:01 PM on June 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


The fact that this is a news item on CNN indicates that this might not be representative of American society.
Bullshit.
posted by five fresh fish at 2:04 PM on June 24, 2007


Metafilter: selling the pots and pimping the hose or whatever it is that kids do these days.
posted by Firas at 2:05 PM on June 24, 2007 [3 favorites]


These sort of posts are why newsfilter is often thought of as lame. There's a story here afterall: how and why did this rule get put into place in the first place? Are there even a copy of the rules available for public browsing? These types of informative questions are rarely asked by the media and even rarely asked by posters. Instead we get a link to WP article and link to CNN video. And that stinks. There is zero thought going into this type post and it's just more outrage filter, more slowing down to look at the freak show and no looking or even thinking of what the issues are.

Searching the school's website shed no info. Even downloading and searching through the school's PTA Newsletters doesn't offer any answers as to how and why the rule was put into place.

As the WP article mentions, the District school system prohibits inappriopate touching but has no ban on general touching. So what prompted Kilmer Middle School to do this?

According to another article, the decision was made at the school level and it's one. The town where the school is located Vienna, Virgina doesn't seem to have school board. Doing Google searches on just the town's home page only produced zoning or construction notes. The 2006 comprehensive plan only mentions Kilmer as one of two middle schools in town.

But Fairfax County does have a school board, though clicking on the "Policies, Notices, and Regulations" link on the first page brings up this (probably unrelated) gem:
Effective July 1, 2007, the Code of Virginia will no longer require school libraries to maintain hardcopies of Notices, Policies, and Regulations (also known as directives). Regulation 1102.5, Procedures for Maintenance of Directives, will be revised to no longer require that one complete policy manual be maintained at each administrative work site.

Therefore, as of July 1, hard copies of any directives will no longer be distributed.


However there is a search function for all the directives, you can even search by school, but searching for "Touch" under Kilmer yields nothing notable.


We're still left with the question of when and where the rule was put into effect and also why. Anyone else know?

Interesting notes: There is much talk made of gang signs, but nothing concrete is pointed. Looking at the demographics of the school, I'm curious as what the local gangs are. Also, the school was named after Alfred Joyce Kilmer
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:05 PM on June 24, 2007 [4 favorites]


Bullshit.

That all you got?
posted by brain_drain at 2:08 PM on June 24, 2007


Condom tricks - 1, 2, 3 -- made famous by Howie Mandel.
posted by ericb at 2:09 PM on June 24, 2007


Florence Henderson: Rumsfeld's constitutional wet dream.

Oh, I didn't realize we were granting schoolchildren their full constitutional rights nowadays. I'm not saying there's not an argument to be made for it, but you're biting off a much bigger piece of the pie than my comment addresses if you're taking that approach.

In the meantime, I wasn't saying anything about the constitutional protections of adults, so unless you plan to broaden the argument (and I can't say I'd necessarily oppose you) I feel like that was a bit of a straw man.
posted by Riki tiki at 2:19 PM on June 24, 2007


So you technically prohibit everything, and hire people with enough common sense to only enforce it when needed.

The entire point of a policy is to remove the need to judge cases individually. If you have a policy, but people are free to ignore it as they see fit, you do not have a useful policy.
posted by me & my monkey at 2:25 PM on June 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


American society is so broken.

Said the pot.
posted by oaf at 2:25 PM on June 24, 2007


The fact that this is a news item on CNN indicates that this might not be representative of American society.

Which, the fear or the outrage?
posted by dirigibleman at 2:26 PM on June 24, 2007


Bullshit.

Well, you've certainly got me there.
posted by me & my monkey at 2:28 PM on June 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


Also, the school was named after Alfred Joyce Kilmer

i think that i shall never see
a poem as lovely as a tree

but you'd have to be some kind of lug
to want to give a tree a hug
posted by pyramid termite at 2:28 PM on June 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


It's cute how they think banning handshakes will make gang members unable to show their allegiance.
posted by Many bubbles at 2:34 PM on June 24, 2007


But middle school was an unadulterated pile of stupidity and ignorance.

Amen to that. Most of the cruelest, vilest, most horrible shit I have seen in my entire life I witnessed in those two years. And I lived on Avenue C from 1989-1992.
posted by psmealey at 2:36 PM on June 24, 2007


so unless you plan to broaden the argument (and I can't say I'd necessarily oppose you) I feel like that was a bit of a straw man

My original nic here was "Man O' Straw." Taking anything I write here as reflective of a greater context is always a mistake. I wasn't commenting on your comment so much as riffing on it. School has always been and always will be a training ground for fascist, totalitarian, and mob mentalities. I strongly suspect that's one of the reasons we've been breeding so many home-grown high-school terrorists of late, now that the means and the method are so well established. And I seriously doubt there's anything much we can do to change the status quo now, or even if we should. Learning to expect the kneejerk, ritual abuse of power by the well-intentioned zombies of clueless authority is probably the greatest lesson we can teach our children, and they should learn it well. Hence my Rumsfeld riff. Why would we grant full constitutional rights to our children while we're so busy disassembling them for ourselves?
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:37 PM on June 24, 2007


If I saw a condom at my kid's last middle school, I would be amazed that someo baby's-daddy-to-be had the sense to use it. That would have been a plus on my checklist.

I once was berated for hugging my boyfriend (subsequently my husband) in the hallway, by a hugely pregnant home-economics teacher. The irony of this did not escape even teenager-me at the time.

I have a friend who always thought he would be the cool dad when he had a daughter, very relaxed about sex. When she was in the first or second grade, she kissed some boy and he actually went to the principal's office to complain about the lax discipline, enraged that some kid had taken advantage of his daughter.
posted by misha at 2:50 PM on June 24, 2007


oh yeah? You think THIS is the sign of american culture being screwed up? My personal favorite is Fathers kissing their children (some times on the lips!). Mothers do it all the time, but if the dad does the same thing "OH NOES SEXUAL ABUZE!"

My parents just laughed when I mentioned grandma's tongue. Times sure have changed. Kids survive anything. Even high school. They're like cockroaches. I stomp on them every chance I get and they are still everywhere.
posted by srboisvert at 2:52 PM on June 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


delmoi writes "Also, it seems like America's puritanical streak "

I don't live in U.S. but I always hear about mass-generalization such as "americans do" or "they do" . As a matter of fact, these generalization are often wrong, but they sometime become accepted realities, as if indeed most of americans were puritan freaks. Consequently some people start behaving this way because they don't want to look "odd" among all these puritans, that don't actually exist to begin with !

Similarly, most of the "outrage" for the infamous janet jackson's boob "malfunction" at superbowl was generated by few single ball busters mass mailing, pretending to be "thousand of thousands" with nobody really checking if these millions were, indeed, really millions. Imho, nobody gave a flying fuck about the accident except a few outragemongers.
posted by elpapacito at 2:54 PM on June 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


I blame video games

Clearly I've been playing the wrong video games.

And here I thought the violent one were as good as it gets.
posted by spiderwire at 2:56 PM on June 24, 2007


Wait a minute, "assigned cafeteria table"? What the FUCK?!?
posted by tristeza at 2:57 PM on June 24, 2007


Learning to expect the kneejerk, ritual abuse of power by the well-intentioned zombies of clueless authority is probably the greatest lesson we can teach our children, and they should learn it well.

Repeated for emphasis--I don't think it's the greatest lesson we could teach our children, but it is a good one for them to learn. Of course, we don't need 12 years to teach it to them....

I started my career as a public school teacher, middle and high school. Middle school can indeed be a brutal place, but kids at that age--while often notoriously difficult--can also be delightful and quite interesting. For the most part, I enjoyed working with my students of that age a great deal, and learned much from them.

My problems with schools in the U.S.--and the main reasons I left that career--are with these hidden, fundamental lessons that the process of schooling really seems to be about. Not just ritual abuse of power by those in authority, but the conditioning of provisional self-esteem, dependency in learning, lack of privacy, undermining of personal judgment, etc. etc. Schooling really puts some bad ideas into kids' heads, ideas that I see many, many adults continue to struggle with.

(In my view, this is the biggest single reason America went from a famously take-no-shit, pioneer mentality to this obsequious, reflexive need for authoritarianism we seem to have.)

This middle school is atypical only in the degree to which they've chosen to enforce this policy, not in having such a policy to begin with. It's also worth noting that the Fairfax County school system is considered the finest public school system in the nation.
posted by LooseFilter at 2:58 PM on June 24, 2007 [7 favorites]


The entire point of a policy is to remove the need to judge cases individually.

I disagree. We have a "policy" against murder but we grant killers individual jury trials, not just to determine if they actually did it but also to assign a degree and fitting punishment.

I see policies as a way to indicate that behavior is unacceptable so that the accused can't just say "well no one told me it was wrong" as an excuse. For that reason, I'd prefer the "no inappropriate touching" verbiage Brandon Blatcher used, even if it's functionally identical to discretionary enforcement of "no touching at all." That way we clearly communicate the intent of the restriction while giving ourselves the flexibility to actually enforce it.

I'm not going to pretend this isn't problematic. You hire one morality nazi and suddenly you have incidents like the OP, but that's why I'm only advocating this in things like schools where the real consequences are limited and it's easy to call public attention to abuse.
posted by Riki tiki at 2:59 PM on June 24, 2007


This was actually the rule at my High School. Our uniforms were designed around the concept, and the wrap-around sleeves kept you nice and warm in winter.
posted by Sparx at 3:04 PM on June 24, 2007


At least this will save us the horror of ever seeing a headline like: "Twenty students killed as hugs and high-fives rained down on an unsuspecting school...."
posted by Benny Andajetz at 3:05 PM on June 24, 2007




tristeza: My middle school actually did that on occasion, when, by their judgement, our grade had been bad. Yes, they punished the entire group just because one or two people messed up.

It was great.
posted by DMan at 3:20 PM on June 24, 2007


I think the funniest part of the video is how the administrator is talking about how the no touching rule is to show the school's commitment to multi-culturalism... meanwhile on-screen someone is flipping through a yearbook full of white faces...

and more white faces...

and more white faces...
posted by ShawnStruck at 3:25 PM on June 24, 2007


By the way, I'd like to add to my last comment that if the real consequences aren't strictly limited then my (already tenuous) support for this rule evaporates in an instant.

Suspension, expulsion, counseling... these punishments are severe enough that they should be limited to serious offenses which are explicitly defined in detail. In other words, have a "no inappropriate touching" policy, with reasonable people enforcing it, that can net a student detention. And have a "no sexual contact (including genital stimulation and legalese-description-of-second-base)" policy which can result in significant disciplinary action with appellate rights.
posted by Riki tiki at 3:25 PM on June 24, 2007


You know who else had assigned tables?

That's right: Dmitri Mendeleev.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:27 PM on June 24, 2007 [4 favorites]


I'm not touching you! Does this bug you? I'm not touching you!
posted by dirigibleman at 3:40 PM on June 24, 2007


The father in the video has it wrong though. His response to the argument that "different cultures and families have different expectations and mores about what is and isn't acceptable" is basically "well, this is america and they should learn to go by our standards". Rather, the more effective response should be that different standards isn't the basis for banning, it's the basis for being understanding and respecting of different standards.

This school has chosen to rule against a basic human function rather than try to encourage understanding among students.
posted by Arturus at 3:47 PM on June 24, 2007


His response to the argument that "different cultures and families have different expectations and mores about what is and isn't acceptable" is basically "well, this is america and they should learn to go by our standards".

who the hell elected him to decide what our standards are?
posted by pyramid termite at 3:50 PM on June 24, 2007


It was a straw poll. Nothing too formal, but Robert's Rules of Order were observed. We'ren't you there?
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:56 PM on June 24, 2007


Woh - rogue apostrophes are destroying A'merica!
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:57 PM on June 24, 2007


A couple of notes on the area:

Fairfax County has the second highest median income in the US. Vienna ranked 4th on Money Magazine's top 100 places to live in the US.

Now, I was raised in Falls Church City, Vienna's neighbor, also acclaimed for its school system, which is independent from that of Fairfax. There, too, was a certain degree of paranoia about gangs - but never anything this ridiculous. I was in middle school in the late 90s, and while we weren't allowed to wear hats or chew gum or make out in the hallways, we usually didn't feel like it was too restrictive.

My girlfriend, on the other hand, moved to Vienna from Albuquerque just before her Junior year in high school - and I don't think she ever got over the transition to Fairfax county public schools. They were orders of magnitude stricter. Her little sister had to make this same transition while in middle school and actually went to the particular school in question.

Her reaction to this: "Oh yeah, that's just Kilmer. They're crazy."
posted by malthas at 4:33 PM on June 24, 2007


Learning to expect the kneejerk, ritual abuse of power by the well-intentioned zombies of clueless authority is probably the greatest lesson we can teach our children, and they should learn it well.
It's funny, but as an Australian who lived in the US for some time I noticed that the ritual abuse of power was a staple of anyone I encountered who had even the tiniest little bit of control over his/her fellow human. DMV clerks, bus drivers, anyone in any kind of "customer facing" role would all do their utmost to block anything from happening that wasn't explicitly permitted or that wasn't exactly in their job description. And this in a nation that prides itself on "the customer is always right."

Now I know where it comes from -- the odd, isolating, mental hell called "middle school", an institution that thankfully doesn't exist anywhere else I've ever been.

It explains a lot.
posted by 5MeoCMP at 4:36 PM on June 24, 2007


tristeza: Wait a minute, "assigned cafeteria table"? What the FUCK?!?

I know! I mean, sheesh... how will we know who the unpopular kids are if they're just, like, mixed in with everyone else?! Gosh!
posted by bitter-girl.com at 4:36 PM on June 24, 2007


Brandon Bratcher: "how and why did this rule get put into place in the first place? Are there even a copy of the rules available for public browsing? These types of informative questions are rarely asked by the media and even rarely asked by posters..."

I don't ask questions like that cuz I know the answer: people. are. stoopid. I'd put that in a size twenty font and make it blink a gross purpley green if'n Matt'd lemme. He can't tho, cuz people'd abuse it. Y'know why? people. are. stoopid.

Kids ain't allowed to touch each other in some schools, cuz touching leads to 'other' things, and while back in my day PDA was 'frowned-upon' but not really policed, this led to both violent behavior and sexual behavior when the grups weren't around. Violence and sex are two things that today's parents want their offspring to believe don't exist.

So no touching! And no eating apples from that Tree of Knowledge over there either! You might learn something! Heaven forbid anyone learn something in a middle school!

"There is zero thought going into this type post and it's just more outrage filter"

How can you possibly expect anything aside from zero thought in my posts? I'm a byproduct of American public schooling!

Oh. You meant the original poster? Perhaps ya shood rephrase that, laddie. His initials are AA and I don't think it means Alcoholics Anonymous.
posted by ZachsMind at 5:07 PM on June 24, 2007


tristeza: "Wait a minute, "assigned cafeteria table"?"

Now let's just back up a parsec here, "assigned cafeteria table?" Frankly I'm surprised we're not attaching children to the chairs with velcro.

Now when I was a kid we had to rush to the cafeteria and elbow each other and try to cut in line so we'd get our food in time to get a decent seat so we could eat it before the bell went off cuz there were like five hundred kids and only fifty chairs. It was brutal. This led to bruises and scuffed up bloody elbows and invariably the smaller children would either be thrown across the room by the bullies to the back of the line or they'd end up underfoot and stepped on by five hundred other children. I was one of the lucky ones. I made it to the tenth grade with my spine still intact. And we liked it! We begged for more!

These children of today. They have no respect for what we went through. They get their own little assigned chairs at their own little assigned tables. I bet they even get to put their names on it. The pansies! When I was a kid we used to get sat on by fatter kids if we weren't fast enough to give up our seat. We had to sit on the floor and be spat on by social workers chewing tobacco who thought we were spittoons - and we liked it! We begged for more!

You try to tell that to the children of today, they won't believe you.
posted by ZachsMind at 5:23 PM on June 24, 2007


people. are. stoopid

Yes, but I want to exactly who was being stupid and when and their rationale for this.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:24 PM on June 24, 2007


Actually, I'm thankful for these CNN news stories, without which I would have no idea what to be outraged about each day.

And this in a nation that prides itself on "the customer is always right."

"The customer is always right" means "the customer knows what he wants. If he wants the ridiculously overpriced item with the features he doesn't need, don't try to talk him out of it."
posted by deanc at 5:38 PM on June 24, 2007 [2 favorites]


Considering how adept kids are at jargon and codes, I doubt they need to use "gang signs" to get messages across.

If a hug is a "gang sign", what's rubbing your nose, pulling your ear, or blinking twice? Whatever they want.

Chalks up as yet another dumb-ass policy, one that discourages expression of a basic human need ... every bit as up-tight as the retarded dress codes of the past.
posted by Twang at 6:21 PM on June 24, 2007


tristeza: Wait a minute, "assigned cafeteria table"? What the FUCK?!?

bittergirl.com:I know! I mean, sheesh... how will we know who the unpopular kids are if they're just, like, mixed in with everyone else?! Gosh!


Are you kidding, or are you completely nuts? Come on seriously, assigned EATING spaces? What is this, 1939 Berlin? Jesus, these kids get goosestepped through their day, into class, into assigned seat, out of class, down hall, NO TOUCHING, move it, move it....then they can't sit with their fucking friends at LUNCH? Lovely.

Dorks should be allowed to sit with their dork buddies, no? Or should they have to sit with the football squad so they can get fucked with at close range every lunch hour?
posted by tristeza at 6:29 PM on June 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


Also, the school was named after Alfred Joyce Kilmer

(whose name happens to be an anagram of "Kiljoy! Carer fled me!")
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:37 PM on June 24, 2007


It's funny, but as an Australian who lived in the US for some time I noticed that the ritual abuse of power was a staple of anyone I encountered who had even the tiniest little bit of control over his/her fellow human. DMV clerks, bus drivers, anyone in any kind of "customer facing" role would all do their utmost to block anything from happening that wasn't explicitly permitted or that wasn't exactly in their job description.

Well, at least that explains the popularity of India as the number one choice for customer service outsourcing.
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:41 PM on June 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


Where do these goofballs come from? How can we improve the education system when the administrators don't even know what it is to be human? That pta spokesperson was special. "..the next thing you know, kids are high fiving each other, elbows are going up into the air, and somebody gets killed."
posted by gallois at 9:49 PM on June 24, 2007


Well, at least that explains the popularity of India as the number one choice for customer service outsourcing.

Clearly, you've never spoken with Dell's tech support, or you'd realize that it's far more true of India than it is of the U.S. It's far more true of many places than it is of the U.S.
posted by oaf at 10:54 PM on June 24, 2007


I gotta say I am so damned grateful to have gone through school before all this idiocy became so rampant.

Our cafeteria was the old gym, which was still in use as a gym. We had roll-out, fold-down tables and bleachers. It was a zoo. Foodfights regularly. Simply insane. Many of us wouldn't set foot into that place.

Those of us with good connections at in certain classrooms: the teachers trusted us to not wreck the place. Others would eat outside or in the locker room or simply hop in their car and go somewhere else.

We were allowed to touch each other. Except for fistfights on school property, at least. It was also safe to go to the student parking lot and hotbox before afternoon classes; this probably explains the dismal graduation rate.

For all its flaws (and it was an awful school, truly), at least we were treated as humans.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:56 PM on June 24, 2007


Public Displays of Affection and YOU! (self-link)
posted by ZachsMind at 11:47 PM on June 24, 2007


ZachsMind:

LOL
posted by cholly at 11:54 PM on June 24, 2007


Everyone should just go to Law School; that'd fix everything. Everyone could carry concealed cease and desist letters, so if you needed to sue someone in the street, you'd be covered.
posted by chuckdarwin at 1:25 AM on June 25, 2007


Learning to expect the kneejerk, ritual abuse of power by the well-intentioned zombies of clueless authority is probably the greatest lesson we can teach our children, and they should learn it well.

Just so long as they know that that's what it is. And that there is an alternative.

A friend of mine was in the public schools in elementary and high school, and home-schooled in between. The more I think about that, the more I like it.
posted by eritain at 2:14 AM on June 25, 2007


Handshakes as gang signs? I doubt it, unless there's an undercurrent of vicious masonic thirteen year olds in our public schools that I'm unaware of.
posted by kosher_jenny at 2:18 AM on June 25, 2007


unless there's an undercurrent of vicious masonic thirteen year olds in our public schools that I'm unaware of.

Who else do you think came up with "2B1ASK1"? There's obviously hidden SMS slang in it.
posted by Spatch at 5:28 AM on June 25, 2007


What? More proof that my common sense is superior to those who are supposedly in control? Well that sure does make me feel better about myself. Job well done corporate media. I will continue to watch as long as you provide me with information that leads me to believe that everyone more accomplished than myself is dumber than I, me... uh myself? Well you know what I mean. As long as these black and white issues dominate my thinking I can ignore the gray area important stuff that makes me feel helpless.
posted by any major dude at 11:04 AM on June 25, 2007


Are you kidding, or are you completely nuts? Come on seriously, assigned EATING spaces? What is this, 1939 Berlin? Jesus, these kids get goosestepped through their day, into class, into assigned seat, out of class, down hall, NO TOUCHING, move it, move it....then they can't sit with their fucking friends at LUNCH? Lovely.

Tristeza, I hear you. Many years ago, I was home from college and decided to swing by the elementary school to see my favorite cousin for lunch. My folks had done stuff like this for years, and I remembered how nice it was to get an adult to not only stop by and bring you lunch but to eat with them as well.

So's I go in with my happy meal only to find out that it's banned. No outside food that's not pre-approved. Fine, I can still eat with the kiddo, and after a great deal of drama, the teacher lets me stand in line. So I'm hanging out and talking with the kids (1st graders) and all of the sudden, they start getting into this odd boy/girl order and stop talking. I asked my cousin what was up and she said that they not only had to sit boy/girl to prevent cliques but there was no talking during lunch.

This was over 12 years ago, the cousin is now a college student and free to sit with whoever she likes at lunch and talk about anything. I'm still appalled about the whole thing. It's frightening and sad that many of the fond (and wretched) memories I have about school are now not even a possibility. I firmly believe that we are gradually taking all the joy out of kids' lives.
posted by teleri025 at 1:11 PM on June 25, 2007


A few years ago, my sons had a principal that assigned seats in the lunchroom and put up red "stop sign" flags that meant the kids couldn't talk for the first five minutes of lunch. I was a volunteer with hundreds (literally) of volunteer time, had helped to recruit families to bring their kids to this school, my sons had been their since the school opened, we raised the funds for the playground--the whole bit. I went in and protested in a nice, reasonable way the ridiculous red stop sign rule and seating assignments, with no result. This, naturally, annoyed me.

I volunteered in the cafeteria, and some of the chaperons wouldn't let the kids get up to get water from the water fountain because, "then everyone would want to!" This was in Florida. My response was, "Good, then they won't be dehydrated." I mean, really, wtf?

I would buy ice cream for every single kid in their classes every time I came in to visit my sons. It's amazing how a little .50 dessert could make a difference in that kind of environment.

The principal also didn't want the kids to have recess, after all that time fund-raising for a playground, because he wanted to be known as tough on academics, so I wrote to the newspaper about how obesity in kids was a rising problem, and why do children not have recess any more, mentioning the school by name...

By the time my kids left this school, the principal was long gone, the kids had PE three times a week, and the parents were much happier. And our kids scored really well on achievement tests, too. Sometimes rules are meant to be broken.
posted by misha at 2:07 PM on June 25, 2007


Kids go to school to have fun and make friends and pass the time while adolescence storms through them. Maybe if they learn something along the way that's icing on the cake.

Grownups send kids to school so they can work for a living without having to bother with the little hellions for eight hours.

The people actually running schools? They're supposed to care about education and moral standards and bullshit like that, but what they're actually wondering is are any of these kids packing, and have they been able to formulate a plan to take over the school by feeding the faculty to rabid dogs?

It's called paranoia, and after Columbine and Virginia Tech and countless other 'isolated incidents' I completely understand where it comes from. If I were principal of a school, I'd be wearing a kevlar vest and encasing myself in an office made of two inch thick plexiglass - preferably located in a building on the other side of town from the school itself.

With that said, anyone in the profession of educating children who wants to pass and enforce rules that demand children not be children, needs to really reconsider their chosen profession. If you don't want kids to even touch each other, try not being around kids yourself. You'll feel so much better.

Let someone else do your job; someone who isn't afraid to let kids be kids.
posted by ZachsMind at 2:24 PM on June 25, 2007


Are you kidding, or are you completely nuts? Come on seriously, assigned EATING spaces? What is this, 1939 Berlin? Jesus, these kids get goosestepped through their day, into class, into assigned seat, out of class, down hall, NO TOUCHING, move it, move it....then they can't sit with their fucking friends at LUNCH? Lovely.

Calm down, tristeza, I was being a smartass. I think it's as stupid as you do!
posted by bitter-girl.com at 5:22 PM on June 25, 2007


What I want to know is how it went down in the meeting where someone said, "I know, let's make a rule that says the kids can never touch each other."

I'd like to know what happens in the seconds between someone actually suggests that, and when the first and second morons agree that it's a good and practical idea.
posted by psmealey at 5:54 PM on June 25, 2007


Everyone should just go to Law School; that'd fix everything.

Speaking from personal experience, law school doesn't fix jack. I mean, I know you're being sarcastic, but really -- you're closer to the mark than you should be. It's kinda disturbing.
posted by spiderwire at 10:06 PM on June 26, 2007


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