Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Texas! Motto: We Don't Call It Graduation, We Call It Parole

You know, years ago when we were inmates of the local educorporate training facility we weren't what you might call model students. Now, in our defense we have to say we weren't overtly disruptive...well there was that one time we flicked a booger at Dale and it got caught in Elizabeth's hair, but that was an accident due to our lack of familiarity with the aerodynamic principles of asymmetrical objects. Besides, who could have known a person as small as Elizabeth was capable of a noise like that?

Aside from that our activities were pretty much confined to those you might expect of a budding scholar with a short attention span and not enough adult supervision. Things like opening the window at the back of the classroom and scattering breadcrumbs left over from lunch to attract pigeons in the hopes that one might fly into the room (Hey, it could work); trying to steal all the teacher's chalk before math class, or writing fictitious names on the attendance sheet passed around by the substitute.

Well, we tell you this by way of establishing our credentials as miscreants, and to confess that while there probably were some activities we engaged in that were definitely not conducive to the harmonious learning atmosphere we're sure our educational technicians were trying to create, at least we never broke the law.
In a small courtroom north of Houston, a fourth-grader walked up to the bench with his mother. Too short to see the judge, he stood on a stool. He was dressed in a polo shirt and dark slacks on a sweltering summer morning. “Guilty,” the boy’s mother heard him say. In another generation, he might have received only a scolding from the principal or a period of detention. But an array of get-tough policies in U.S. schools in the past two decades has brought many students into contact with police and courts — part of a trend some experts call the criminalization of student discipline.
First of all we feel obligated to point out that because this kid acted out in Texas he probably should thank his lucky stars he wasn't shooting spit wads, or sticking his gum under the seat. We hear you can be executed for stuff like that. Second,  since it's a well known fact that children who can't sit quietly, not ask questions and always color inside the lines are not going to do well on the tests and pull the school's score down, it's just as well this young ne'er do well is hustled off to the pokey. We mean, he's a fourth grader and this is how he behaves? What hope is there for him?
In Texas police issue tickets: Class C misdemeanor citations for offensive language, class disruption, schoolyard fights. Thousands of students land in court, with fines of up to $500. Students with outstanding tickets may be arrested after age 17.
Darn straight. Look, a kid swears in class, it's only a short trip from there to robbing a bank, so we might as well get him in the system now, while he's cooped up in a school building. Beats chasing him around the neighborhood after he's knocked over the local liquor store, no?
Now, such practices are under scrutiny nationally. Federal officials want to limit punishments that push students from the classroom to courtroom, and a growing number of state and local leaders are raising similar concerns.
Now see, this is why governor Perry wants to secede. Here comes the federal mommy government interfering with the state's right to utilize its resources as it sees fit. Seriously, do these kids work? No. Can they buy TV's or cars or houses? Not. Do they in any way contribute to the enormous cost of taking care of them? Never. So aside from the few who do well on tests and thus help raise property values in their neighborhoods, there aren't a whole lot of reasons for putting up with much. Besides, when teachers are busy organizing test prep sessions, they don't have a lot of time to be fooling around with kids who just don't see the importance of making the adults look good by scoring well.
Gregg Anderson, president of the Texas Association of School Resource Officers, said that tickets don’t get written every day or for every offense but that when a problem is repeated or severe, "it’s another tool in our belt.”
Right on Mr. Anderson. See, you bleeding hearts are getting all  upset over nothing. These tickets are being given only in certain severe circumstances, not at any little infraction. What do you think, we hate kids? Come on, we're professional educators fer chrissakes. Kids are what we are all about.
In one highly publicized case a middle school student in Austin was ticketed for class disruption after she sprayed herself with perfume when classmates said she smelled.

In Houston one recent day, a 17-year-old was in court after he and his girlfriend poured milk on each other. “She was mad at me because I broke up with her,” he said.
Well, in the schoold districts' defense we have to say it was cheap perfume, and as far as the milk incident...those were both free lunch kids, so it's not like they were going to amount to much anyway.
Research shows that students who have been arrested or appeared in court are more likely to drop out of high school, said Gary Sweeten, an Arizona State University criminologist. Dropouts, in turn, are more likely than graduates to be incarcerated or unemployed.
Hey, win win. We get the kids who don't do well on the big tests out of school, and create job opportunities in the Corrections field.

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