Chivalry Is Dead Was Murdered by Zero Tolerance

Friday, March 4th, 2011

A Virginia middle school student has been suspended for . . . opening the door for a woman whose hands were full.

“Students are not allowed to open the doors, and if anyone does, they will be suspended,” said Dr. Wayne K. Smith, executive director of administration and personnel.

A districtwide policy prohibiting students and staff from opening doors to the outside was recently adopted after a $10,800 security system was installed at the middle school, Southampton High School, Southampton Technical Career Center and Nottoway, Meherrin and Capron elementary schools. Riverdale Elementary had a similar system installed when it was built three years ago.

All of the schools’ doors are locked during the day. Visitors must ring a buzzer and look into a camera before office personnel can let them in.

Smith said everyone knew about the policy and its consequences. The middle school student was the first to be suspended for opening a door. Smith did not say how many days of suspension the unidentified student received.

You can’t be too careful. Your average middle school, high school, or college can expect to see an on-campus shooting about once every 12,000 years. If Southhampton Middle School hasn’t had at least one shooting since 10,000 B.C., they’re really just on borrowed time.

Via Lenore Skenazy.

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44 Responses to “Chivalry Is Dead Was Murdered by Zero Tolerance”

  1. #1 |  Eric | 

    Here’s just one more example of you glibertarians using false data to overstate your case. 12,000 years ago was 9989 BC, Mr. Balko.

  2. #2 |  SJE | 

    Eric: Radley may have been confused by the Gregorian to Julian transition in calendars.

  3. #3 |  OneAngryDwarf | 

    I can manage an extremely, near-microscopic scintilla of understanding for the school admins’ mentality here. Keeping the school secure on a basic level is probably a good idea, and visitors to schools should be identified as a matter of common sense.

    That being said, that kernel of wisdom is, of course, wrapped in complete cluelessness and disregard for common sense. Give the kid a brief talk about why it’s not a good idea to let strangers into the school? Sure. Suspension? Lunacy.

  4. #4 |  SJE | 

    A lot of the complaints about bad teachers, expensive medicine, government paperwork, etc, have a common theme: the American love of “rules” and no trust in discretion.

  5. #5 |  SJE | 

    Actually, that lady could have had a bag of GROCERIES: OMG, they could have included some unhealthy food, or food that has not been centrally sourced and cooked until all the taste and nutrition was destroyed.

  6. #6 |  Mattocracy | 

    I don’t know if anyone has done this research, but I wouldn’t be suprised if statistically, a child has a greater chance of becoming a convicted felon at his\her school more than anywhere else.

  7. #7 |  Irving Washington | 

    Why do I suspect that a majority of that district’s parents will agree with the administration on this one?

  8. #8 |  CyniCAl | 

    Is any further evidence needed to prove that government schools are prisons?

  9. #9 |  B | 

    I thank baby Jesus every day that I finished high school several years before Columbine.

  10. #10 |  Charles Johnson | 

    To me the most bizarre part of stories like this is not the school behavior, but the behavior of the parents. Why would anyone trust imbeciles like this “educate” your child? At what point do parents say, “That’s Stupid and I’m not going to subject my child to that kind of nonsense any more?” At what point do we stop funding these exercises in absurdity and start separating school and state?

    But hey, if you need a demonstration of public schools as a prison type experience this one is tough to beat. Maybe they are trying to keep the kids in and not the riff raff out.

  11. #11 |  James J.B. | 

    There was a time, not too long ago, where adults would publically pine away for the days in high school. When I was in school, people would tell me that they wished they were in high school again.

    I guess it has gone the way of “hey, it’s a free country…”

    #8 CyniCAl
    “Children’s prison” – a very apt description.

  12. #12 |  James J.B. | 

    There was a time, not too long ago, where adults would publically pine away for the days in high school. When I was in school, people would tell me that they wished they were in high school again.

    I guess it has gone the way of “hey, it’s a free country…”

    #8 CyniCAl
    “Children’s prison” – a very apt description.

  13. #13 |  James J.B. | 

    Didn’t mean to dbl post. :(

  14. #14 |  MacGregory | 

    I went to high school in the early 80s. If this zero tolerance thing would have been around then, half the damn school would have been suspended or expelled.

  15. #15 |  Difster | 

    I went to high school in the 80’s as well in suburban Minneapolis. I regularly brought a knife to school. I knew kids that kept guns in their trunks because they went hunting before school or were going after.

    In elementary school, several kids brought guns to school for show and tell. They took them to the principal first of course to make sure they were safe or maybe just to the teacher.

    Now you can’t even draw a picture of a gun without getting suspended.

  16. #16 |  SJE | 

    I’d argue that the current approach is anti-american. One of the beauties of the USA is the ability to truly individual. However, the school boards seem to want everyone to be meek and mild and completely passive, and only fit into some pre-conceived box. How are you going to foster individuality? Its not about the ability to wear whatever clothes you wnt, its about the ability to express yourself and do things differently, with wise adults to guide and shape you. You should not be expelled or imprisoned for doing something a little bit stupid in high school, any more than you should be expelled for peeing your pants in pre-K: its all about age-appropriate behavior.

  17. #17 |  PeeDub | 

    Off-topic, but thought you guys might like this: http://xkcd.com/868/

  18. #18 |  StrongStyle81 | 

    What if there is a shooting and the cops can’t get in because the person who works the doors is dead?

    I mean, after all that is the level of logic one is dealing with when it concerns our education system.

  19. #19 |  Bad Medicine | 

    James J.B. – Radley has a strict zero tolerance policy for double posters. Please beat yourself about the head and neck and report for detainment at Gitmo immediately. Because it was accidental, he may only sentence you to one lifetime there…

  20. #20 |  Scott Hoover | 

    “You can’t be too careful. Your average middle school, high school, or college can expect to see an on-campus shooting about once every 12,000 years. If Southhampton Middle School hasn’t had at least one shooting since 10,000 B.C., they’re really just on borrowed time.”

    Statements like this is what makes this blog worth reading every day. Nicely done.

  21. #21 |  freedomfan | 

    What kills me about this sort of story is that there was apparently never a point during the rule-making process when someone asked, “So, can this rule be read such that it will result in some kid being suspended because he innocently opened the door for someone whose hands were full?” Or, perhaps someone considered that sort of possibility and decided, “Yeah, but that’s okay” (in which case they are authoritarian jerks) or “Yeah, but it would never get that far because common sense would be applied” (in which case they are – to be kind – inexperienced with government and bureaucracy).

    I recognize that part of any organization’s job is to decide upon its operational rules and policies. But, any good rule-making process requires examination of what power the rule (and its enforcement) gives that will allow someone doing something harmless to get into trouble. And, to be clear, the operative question is not, “What will happen when people with common sense are applying this rule who are trying to accomplish what we intend with it?” The question must be, “What sort of abuse does the rule permit when it is applied without common sense and/or by people who have a different idea about what its intended to accomplish?”

    This sort of case is why I refer to zero-tolerance policies as zero-intelligence policies: There are inevitably cases with any rule where common sense says the rule should be ignored, but a zero-tolerance policy actually insists that common sense be ignored instead. Thus, there is no allowance for thinking when applying the policy –> zero-intelligence

  22. #22 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    Better yet, StongStyle. What if a school administrator is being beaten by a bunch of teens juuuuuust outside the door…while a dozen students watch from inside the door.

  23. #23 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    In Texas in the 80s, school was mostly just shooting beer cans off a wall with different guns. So, all of this is really weird to me.

  24. #24 |  CyniCAl | 

    Boyd Durkin, FTW.

  25. #25 |  StrongStyle81 | 

    #22

    Now you’re thinking like a public official. Paranoid fear mongering baby!

    The best part of your situation is that obviously the kids will want to help the administrator, but know that he/she will suspend them if they do. There is a certain comic irony to it.

  26. #26 |  Mannie | 

    Repeat after me: The school is not your friend. I teach that to my grandkids at every opportunity.

    That and Zero Tolerance equals Zero Brains.

  27. #27 |  Aaron H | 

    I for one support the suspension. The more time this kid can spend away from the nutters at his school, the better.

  28. #28 |  Dr. T | 

    Here’s one of my favorite quotes about public schools:

    “School is like starting life with a 12-year jail sentence in which bad habits
    are the only curriculum truly learned.”
    — John Taylor Gatto, New York state’s 1991 Teacher of the Year

    It’s gotten much worse since then.

  29. #29 |  random guy | 

    School is supposed to preprare students for adult life:

    So, arbitrary and senseless rules? Check!
    Incompetent assholes run everything? Check!
    A general public that supports the assholes? Check!
    The sensible minority is considered the lunatic fringe? Check!

    Public schools are effectively prisons. Clearly the powers that be consider living in a prison to be a high priority experience for better preparing American Youths for their future.

  30. #30 |  Mark F. | 

    Wow, I don’t know how I ever got through 12 years of school with no “security” whatever.

  31. #31 |  CyniCAl | 

    #10 | Charles Johnson

    It is an honor to have the Rad Geek grace us with his wisdom. Long-time reader here, please keep up the great work Charles.

  32. #32 |  perlhaqr | 

    *head desk*

  33. #33 |  kant | 

    What I took away from the story is that they seemed much more concerned about justifying the $10,800 system than anything else.

    “we wanna play with our new expensive toy, kids be damned!”

  34. #34 |  Bill | 

    I was so proud of a friend of mine when he went to visit his kid’s school. The secretary/receptionist/whoever asked who he was through the intercom, and he replied “Jeffrey Dahmer.” She buzzed him through, then yelled, “Hey! Wait!” after he went through the door.

    He just said, “Too late,” and kept walking…

  35. #35 |  Dan | 

    Boy do I feel like an old fart. I open all doors for ladies. I’m still certain if I didn’t, my dad would raise up from his grave and pound me into a bloody pile of kibble.

    Don’t get me wrong, I respect my father, mostly for how he raised me and his sacrifice for our country in WW2; he would not understand this position at all, and I don’t either. These are not rules, they represent a position that must be challenged.

    The kid should not be commended, because his actions are what should be considered the norm. The idiots who suspended him should think about the downstream implications of their galactic level of stupidity.

  36. #36 |  Joe | 

    Voters and parents need to rein this crap in.

  37. #37 |  J.S. | 

    Clearly this was an anti-union smear job by the Koch brothers. That kid is an evil agitator!

  38. #38 |  MPH | 

    I never really “got” the “schools=prisons” idea until I was driving through Illinois and about 10 minutes after passing a prison I passed a high school. The only differences between the two was the razor wire on the top of the fences and the goal posts in the exercise (football) yard. Now I’m a believer…

  39. #39 |  parse | 

    You can’t be too careful. Your average middle school, high school, or college can expect to see an on-campus shooting about once every 12,000 years.

    This would be more relevant if the only reason to restrict access to schools were to prevent on-campus shootings.

  40. #40 |  Nick | 

    Wow… just wow.

  41. #41 |  Joe | 

    Yeah, obviously the Koch Brothers must be behind this!

    As Jeff Goldstein noted:

    If only we could find a reason why this is so. Let’s see, could it be that we’re more and more servicing our soaring debt? No, that can’t be it.

    Oh yes, I have it: the Koch brothers are hiding it all under their super lavish mattresses, then at night they get naked but for spats, monocles, and top hats, and they roll around in the national resources they’ve STOLEN FROM YOU!

  42. #42 |  Lefty | 

    I’m sure he was asking for it. The little brown noser.

  43. #43 |  DarkEFang | 

    This story reminds me of the great Season Four episode of Newsradio, “Security Door.”

  44. #44 |  Torinir | 

    This makes me think those kids aren’t students, but prisoners. It’s pathetic.

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