Friday, October 16, 2009

Troy School "Zero Tolerance" Superintendent is "Zero Common Sense"

You hear a version of this story nearly every week.  Some public school official turns in some student for "bringing a weapon to school" where the "zero-tolerance policy" requires that the student be suspended or worse.  A 5th grader brings a birthday cake to school to share with her classmates, as well as a pastry knife to cut it with; the teacher uses the knife to cut the cake, then turns the little girl in for "bringing a weapon to school."

A six year old cub scout brings his scout camping tool to school to eat lunch with.  The tool is a combination folding fork, knife and spoon.  He was charged with "bringing a weapon to school" and ordered to spend 45 days in an alternative school for trouble makers.

Now an Eagle Scout, Matthew Whalen,  has been suspended from Lansinburgh High School in Troy, New York, for carrying a two inch utility knife in the trunk of his car.  The knife is part of Whalen's scout survival kit that includes a sleeping bag, water, a ready-to-eat meal and the small pocket knife in question.  When School Superintendent George Goodwin found out about the pocket knife, he suspended Whalen from school for 20 days.  Goodwin refuses to reconsider the draconian punishment, or talk to Matthew or his parents about his decision.

This is the totalitarian mindset, where rules are rigidly enforced without the benefit of judgment or context, even when the alleged "weapon" is a pocket knife or eating utensil.

The Lansinburgh High School administration has been swamped with emails, letters and phone calls to protest this ridiculous treatment of senior Matthew Whalen, whose academic record may be seriously damaged by the suspension.  Feel free to let these extremists know what you think.

Angelina Bergin, Principal
Lansinburgh High School
320 Seventh Avenue
Troy, NY 12182
(518) 233-6806

You can contact George Goodwin directly as this number:  (518) 233-6850

George Goodwin has been called "Mr. Zero Tolerance."  I would call him (among other things) "Mr. Zero Common Sense."

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