Hendricks County Flyer, Avon, IN

Commentary

March 15, 2013

The littlest perps

The nation's elementary schools are overrun by small-minded and unreasonable people, prone to hysterics, who can't distinguish between make-believe and reality. They are called school administrators.

In the wake of the Newtown, Conn., massacre, they have been punishing little children for making gunlike gestures with their fingers and other harmless horseplay. The people who run our schools must have been too busy brushing up on their "zero tolerance" policies to notice that Newtown was perpetrated with an AR-15, not with a toy or with a finger. We expect 5-year-olds to be childish. What's the excuse for the people running our schools?

Five-year-old Joseph Cruz brandished a gun made out of Legos in his day-care program while, in the words of the Barnstable Public School District in Hyannis, Mass., "simulating the sound of gunfire." For a layman, that's called saying "pow." Cruz got a stiff warning for "using daycare toys inappropriately."

A 5-year-old girl was suspended from kindergarten at Mount Carmel Area Elementary School in Northumberland County, Pa., after "threatening" to shoot classmates with her pink Hello Kitty gun that fires soapy bubbles. A mandatory psychological evaluation found, according to a news report, "that the girl did not represent any threat to others." Whew.

White Marsh Elementary in Maryland suspended two first-graders for playing cops and robbers on the playground. In true 21st-century fashion, the school board said it was forbidden from giving out more information "due to confidentially requirements under the Federal Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)."

Melody Valentin, a fifth-grader, was reprimanded for accidentally bringing a paper gun to her school in Philadelphia. When another kid saw her throwing it away, she was reported to the authorities. Perhaps she should have sought out a paper-gun buyback program rather than disposing of it so carelessly in a trash can, where it could have been found and used by someone else? "He yelled at me," Melody said of an administrator, "and I kept telling him it was a paper gun." Melody's argument would seem utterly unassailable, "but he wouldn't listen."

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