Zero Tolerance; Zero Critical Thinking

What Women Really Think
Oct. 13 2009 4:27 PM

Zero Tolerance; Zero Critical Thinking

School is where we send our children not only to learn-reading, writing, arithemetic-but also, one would hope, to think . It’s hard to see how kids are supposed to do that, though, when they go to schools where the grown-ups appear incapable of engaging in any form of critical thought or useful decision-making.

Via InstaPundit comes today’s "zero-tolerance policy" nightmare. Glenn points to a New York Times story about Zachary Christie, a 6-year-old from Delaware who is facing 45 days in a school for juvenile delinquents because he brought a utensil to school that was an all-in-one fork, spoon, and ... knife. You can see from the picture that the knife is tiny and designed for use as a utensil. But the school called it a "weapon" and suspended him.

Advertisement

It’s a big "duh" that kids shouldn’t be bringing weapons to school. No switch blades, no hunting knives, heck, I can’t think of a reason to bring a steak knife. But there is a wide, comfy berth for common sense somewhere in between "dagger" and "Cub Scout utensil." And in Delaware the state code that prohibits "deadly weapons" on school grounds also permits schools to "on a case by case basis, modify the terms of the expulsion or determine that expulsion is not appropriate." In other words, for grown-ups who are still grasping at reading comprehension, it means a school can do the right thing and NOT suspend a first-grader who wears a suit and tie to school some days and who participates in the talent show and the science fair and Little League.

Rachael Larimore is Slate's managing editor.