I do not agree with the "zero tolerance" policies, as I understand them and how they are currently being enforced. Our school system has completely lost its objectivity and sense of fairness. When children, of all ages, are expelled or punished for bringing aspirin to school, we have gone too far. When children, of all ages, are punished, for bringing a butter knife to school to prepare food, or carry a pen knife in their pocket and are expelled or punished, we have gone too far.
When children are punished or expelled for hunting over the weekend, leave their gun locked up in their trunk (and self-disclose) but are shown no discretion, we have gone too far.
I understand punishment and consequences for breaking rules, but I also understand discretion, surrounding facts and circumstances and the need for common sense in handing out punishment and the current "zero tolerance" does not allow for anything but a poor "rubber-stamp" solution.
I am 50 years old, and when I attended Evans High school, kids actually brought their guns and rifles to school (from hunting) and often had them in full display in their truck window. We had no problems then because we were allowed to settle our differences and most certainly defend ourselves.
It is viewed as a basic right to defend yourself when threatened. In fact, in 2006, 14 states expanded their self-defense laws; surely more have done so since then. Strange, Columbia County, in its wisdom, has gone the other way by weakening self-defense.
I have told my son (and so has his mother) that he is to defend himself when threatened. I think of several cases that recently made news in the school system. The boy that had his hunting rifle in the trunk, self-disclosed, was showed no leniency and expelled. I think of my conversation with a parent whose son has gotten into trouble several times for defending himself against aggressors. Not once did his son start anything, but because he defended himself, he was punished as harshly as the perpetrator.
Last, I think of a young man who by all accounts from his teachers and coaches is an exemplary student who made the age-appropriate, but wrong, decision to drink beer off campus prior to a school function.
I am not defending his actions, but please tell me what man today or women, for that matter, hasn't experimented with alcohol during a high school function? This young man, when asked, admitted he drank two beers. For that, he was shown no discretion, kicked out of school, banned from all Columbia County school functions and unable to attend his high school prom.
The ironic thing about this incident? The companions with him lied, were not punished and allowed to continue without consequence. Just to add salt to the wound, the parent, at a school hearing, was told by a school official that the reason the young man couldn't attend school functions was that "they didn't want boys like that in the community."
The school system has lost its common sense approach to age-old issues that have been around since our fathers attended school. I would successfully argue the only thing that has changed is how we (the school system) handle these issues, and not for the better. ...
Jerry Peloquin, Evans
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