The week in bannings: Hugs, homemade treats, awards ceremonies, and Axe

posted at 3:21 pm on March 20, 2013 by Mary Katharine Ham

Glenn Reynolds wondered in his USA Today column last week: Are public schools getting more insane? Pointing to the Pop-Tart gun case, the suspension of a little boy for playing cops and robbers, and the charging of a 5-year-old girl with making “terroristic threats” with a pink bubble gun, he says:

And that’s the problem with all of these cases. Our justification for putting massive amounts of taxpayer money into public schools is that they’re supposed to teach critical thinking. But stories like these — and they’re legion — suggest that the very people who are supposed to be teaching our kids how to think are largely incapable of critical thought themselves.

A Pop Tart gun, a finger gun, or a toy gun — even a pink one that shoots, gasp!, soap bubbles! — isn’t any danger to anyone. Nor is playing with toy guns a sign that a kid is mentally ill or dangerous. It’s a sign that a kid is a kid.

When schools and teachers react hysterically to such non-threats, they’re telling us one of two things: Either that they lack the ability to respond realistically to events or that they recognize that there’s not any sort of threat, but deliberately overreact in order to stigmatize even the idea of guns. The first is educational malpractice; the second is educational malpractice mixed with abuse of power. Neither inspires confidence in the educational system in which they appear.

Time for another round of stories from ban-happy bureaucrats. They never run dry.

Axe is banned in a Pennsylvania high school:

A Pennsylvania high school wants its students to cut back on the body spray.

Freedom High School in Bethlehem says one of its students was recently hospitalized for exposure to Axe Body Spray. Now, officials are asking students to stop using it as a cologne or fragrance while attending the school.

While I, as a sentient human being, am personally offended by Axe fragrances, I also do not have the right not to have my senses offended. I’m guessing the Axe allergy is rather rare and doesn’t require a blanket ban.

In Massachusetts, a principal fears an honors awards ceremony will hurt the feelings of those not earning honors:

A Massachusetts principal has been criticized for canceling his school’s Honors Night, saying it could be ‘devastating’ to the students who worked hard, but fell short of the grades.

MyFoxBoston.com reports that David Fabrizio, principal of Ipswich Middle School, notified parents last week of his plan to eliminate the event.

“The Honors Night, which can be a great sense of pride for the recipients’ families, can also be devastating to a child who has worked extremely hard in a difficult class but who, despite growth, has not been able to maintain a high grade-point average,” Fabrizio penned in his first letter to parents, the station reported.

Fabrizio also said he decided to make the change because academic success can be influenced by the amount of support a student receives at home and not all students receive the same level of emotional and academic support at home.

In Maryland, hugs, homemade treats bite the dust while parental involvement is severely restricted.

New rules for visitors to St. Mary’s County public elementary schools ban hugs and homemade food to anyone other than a parent’s own child.

The guidelines, which are now in effect, limit the activities of some volunteers, school officials said, but are needed to ensure a safe environment.

A committee of several parents and principals from elementary schools in St. Mary’s County met four times last fall to review and recommend new best practices for schools to follow…

The new guidelines limit lunchtime and recess visits, ban handing out birthday invitations at school and prohibit visits during the school day by younger siblings.

“We think it’s the right balance between safety and parental involvement,” said Kelly Hall, executive director of elementary schools and Title I.

She said that elementary principals had reported many issues related to school visitors.

“At the same time, parents were expressing some concerns,” Hall said.

Parents should not approach teachers for a conference while visiting, according to the rules. Those meetings should be scheduled ahead of time.

Siblings of students are not allowed to visit the school with the parent during the school day. It was unclear this week if exceptions would be made for student performances where parents and others are invited.

And, then there’s this, from bureaucrats who have moved beyond local public schools into child services. A Facebook photo of an 11-year-old with a legally owned rifle prompted an anonymous phone call to a child protective services hotline and allegedly, a home visit by law enforcement officials without warrants:

The young man in the photo is the 11-yr-old son of Shawn Moore. The gun is a .22 rifle, a copy of the AR-15, but a 22 caliber. The photo was posted on Facebook by a proud father. That Facebook posting apparently triggered an anonymous call to New Jersey’s Department of Youth and Family Services (DYFS). On Friday night, March 15th, two representatives from the state’s social services office (along with four local police officers) came to the Moore home and demanded to see the family’s firearms.

According to Moore’s lawyer, Evan Nappen (an attorney with considerable expertise in NJ’s very strict gun laws), the situation was “outrageous.”

Beware of your Facebook photos and pastry sculptures, people. It’s a dangerous world out there. You never know when you’ll run into a cloud of Axe.

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