Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Unsupervised Cartwheels. Finally a Thing of the Past


I read the headline and immediately thought that it couldn’t possibly be accurate, there had to be another side to the story. So I clicked on it and read the entire sorry tale and discovered that yes, children at the Weber Middle School in New York would henceforth be banned from playing with “hard” balls during recess. No more footballs, baseballs, or lacrosse balls would be tolerated. In addition, games of tag would be forbidden, and no cartwheels without the aid of a coach.

Port Washington Schools Supt. Kathleen Maloney explained that there had been a rash of playground injuries of late, and that some of the injuries could become quite serious. “We want to make sure that our children have fun, but are also protected.” A spokesperson from the local emergency room offered that he had been seeing some head injuries, along with bumps and scrapes of late and that there were worries about concussions. The story also included this sentence:

Without helmets and pads, children are much more susceptible to getting hurt, experts said.

Luckily for this “expert’s” self respect, his or her name was withheld.

When I was in middle school, recess was my only salvation. Let’s just say that sitting at a desk in a classroom for hours at a time didn’t mix well with my personality type. Every day I would count the minutes until recess. Whenever it rained or snowed, it was something very close to hell for me. What did me and my friends do during recess? I see no need to go into the gory details here, but suffice it to say that if our activities didn’t result in at least one bump or scrape, we would have thought it a colossal failure.

When I read stories like this, it makes me wonder how it is that the people who wind up running public schools are so pathetically uninspiring. What is it about the education bureaucracy that produces such people? From zero-tolerance policies that result in little Johnnie being kicked out of school for pretending to throw a pretend grenade into a pretend fox hole, to the banning of unsupervised cartwheels, modern public education seems to be run by an army of soulless, rubber stamping, idiots who couldn’t pour water out of a boot if the instructions were written on the heel.

It hasn’t always been like this. The Principals at the schools I attended were large and in charge and not to be trifled with, but they were also Solomon-like in their application of justice. I remember the time when I got caught loosening the tops of all the salt shakers at the teachers table in the cafeteria back in elementary school, (I was ratted out by Frank Hargrove). When I was called to the principal’s office, it scared me to death. I was given very strict punishment, but I’ll never forget the smile on his face as I was explaining how I had came up with the idea from a Three Stooges show. He told me that he had seen that one too and it was one of his favorites. How cool was that? Then the hammer came down and I had to help the janitors clean toilets after school. Can you imagine any elementary school child today being made to clean toilets after school?  Between child labor lawyers and union work rules, any Principal imaginative enough to come up with such a punishment would be sued within an inch of his life. Besides:

Children being forced to do degrading and humiliating work at a young age as punishment might suffer self-esteem issues later in life, experts say.

So, thanks to lawyers, helicopter parents, and woosified education bureaucrats, the kids at Weber Middle School will be sitting on the ground in encounter groups during recess, made safe from the runaway skinned knee epidemic by the brave and proactive Ms. Maloney.

Maybe she has a future at the Department of Education.