Post 9/11 School Paranoia

Reports from America's schools suggest that zero- tolerance policies in the wake of September 11 may be overly harsh in their crackdowns against students. Consider the following instances of punishment:

• An eight-year-old boy in Arkansas was suspended for pointing a chicken finger at a teacher and saying, "pow pow."

• A nine-year-old boy in New Jersey was suspended and ordered to undergo a psychological evaluation after telling a classmate of his plans to shoot a fellow classmate with spitballs. Police questioned the boy but did not file charges.

• Two second-grade students in New York were suspended and criminally charged with making terrorist threats for pointing paper guns and saying, "I'm going to kill you." The criminal charges were later dropped.

• Four kindergartners in New Jersey were suspended for three days after pretending their fingers were guns and saying they wanted to shoot one another.

Other games recently banned from school playgrounds include duck, duck, goose; musical chairs; steal the bacon; and tag because they encourage exclusion, theft, bullying, aggression, and competition.

"I think the schools are paranoid, and the policies just don't work," said John Whitehead, president of the Rutherford Institute, an international legal and educational organization representing several of the students. "If you just look at intent in these cases, none of the kids would be guilty of anything."

Washington Times National Weekly Edition, April 1-7, 2002



Mental Mush

Statistics reveal that many Americans, even those with college degrees, are largely ignorant in core academic subjects but answer questions on pop culture with relative ease.

In one survey of college seniors in the state of Arizona, students exemplified this trend by breezing through questions on pop culture yet struggling with questions on U.S. history, science, math, and literature.

Over 90 percent of the students, two-thirds of whom had GPAs of 3.0 or better, correctly identified Snoop Doggy Dog as a rap artist. They had increasing difficulty, however, answering questions about constitutional authorship (14 percent), issues pertaining to forces of the universe (14 percent), statistical probability (16 percent), and the Gettysburg Address (21 percent).

Glenn M. Ricketts, public affairs director of the National Association of Scholars, commented, "The Arizona study provides us with direct confirmation of the failure of university graduates to have learned what Americans have a right to expect their public universities to teach."

Ricketts concluded, "One certainly hopes that this report's recommendations for the adoption of a common undergraduate core curriculum will be taken seriously, in Arizona and elsewhere."

CNSNews.com, April 25, 2002

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