Wednesday, April 23, 2014

1321 Dancing with the Star

When a school district has a zero tolerance policy about weapons and a kid brings a gun to school, he’s punished and should be.


When a school district has a zero tolerance policy about weapons and a kindergartener brings a rubber knife to school… what?


Well, is a rubber knife a weapon?  No, of course not. It’s a novelty toy.  But it LOOKS like a weapon. So the kid should be talked to about not bringing stuff like that to school.


But in many districts, that kid will do time in the attendance office or be sent home with a frightening warning.  Maybe even with a suspension.


And administrators will huff and puff and say things like “it’s out of our control.” Or “it’s policy. It has to be enforced in every case.” Or “We didn’t really do that,” when they did.


But zero tolerance is not limited to weapons and drugs and smoking and sexual harassment.


Here’s a case you may have heard about:


Patrick Farves is a geeky looking 18 year old high school senior in York, Pennsylvania, where so little happens that when a celebrity comes to visit, even a minor celebrity, it’s big news.


The celebrity in this case is Nina Davuluri, the current Miss America.  Ms. Davuluri is a certifiable babe, not the kind likely to give Patrick a second look, even if he weren’t five years her junior.


But Patrick has more guts than his nerdy appearance might lead you to think.  And during an assembly, he rose from his seat, a plastic rose in his hand, and to the cheers of his classmates, asked Miss America to accompany him to the senior prom.


Davuluri politely did not accept the invitation.


School officials -- not so politely -- handed Patrick a three day in-school suspension because he had been told not to do what he did and did it anyway.


Davuluri is of Indian-American heritage.  She was there to give her stump speech on the virtues of diversity.


But diversity is more than just about ethnicity.  It’s about thoughts and deeds and ideas and art.


And high school is not just about history and science and math and languages, driver ed, booze, pot and football, it’s about life.


What’s the lesson Patrick got from this incident?  Be sneaker than your nature dictates.  Learn to deal with rejection, but still shoot for the moon.


MissAm has asked the school to not go through with the suspension.


Someone saying she is an administrator in Patrick’s district, writing on facebook, attempts to “clarify” the situation by first denying anyone told the kid not to make his public invitation and then saying there have to be firm rules and if there weren’t, the district would be accused of lawlessness and failure to teach respect.


That paradox kind of sums up what goes on in schools these days.


Too bad the kid’s a senior and his college applications probably submitted.  If this were a year ago, it would be an attractive add to his extracurricular activities list.


I’m Wes Richards.  My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Please address comments to wesrichards@gmail.com
© WJR 2014

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