Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Are You Mad as Hell?

A few days ago I came across an article on the 'net about a 7 yr old boy in the Broward (Ft Lauderdale) school system who was suspended for a year... a 7 year old!, for having accidently brought a toy pistol to school in his back pack. I was angered beyond all reason, looked up the Superintendent's page online.. clicked the "Send a message to the Supt." which I promptly did, but of course I have yet to hear anything back. No Surprize, but typically disappointing. Here is the letter I wrote...... and yes, I'm still Mad as Hell.

Mr Notter, Supt. of Schools
Broward County, FL

Dear Sir:

Having just read the story of 7 year old Samuel Burgos and the toy gun incident on the CNN website, I felt compelled to write. I assume from your picture that you and I are of the same generation ( I am 64) and it is with an absolute sense of exasperation that I implore you to please bring some sense of judgment and common sense to just one more situation where adult judgement has been ceded to the ridiculousness of "Zero tolerance." You were, I assume, put in this position because you have empathey with school age children, a sense of what is right and wrong, and beyond that, a general idea of what was once referred to as "Common Sense." I say once, because laws which embody "zero tolerance," passed in the last decade or so by adults who have given up the concept of individual thought, seem to have completely destroyed whatever feeling of wisdom young people might have thought "adults" possessed. Your position as Supt. of the school district means that you should be able to rise above the self-blinding dictum of "zero tolerance" and show once again to the student/youth population that all adults have not really lost their brains, but are capable of serious, idea-filled thought. At this point, all Zero Tolerance does is prove once again to anyone under the age of 18, that there is no position in this society for anyone who is capable of thought, anyone capable of reasoned deduction, anyone capable of looking at a situation like the Burgos' and saying " this child was a threat to no one. Give him an admonition, perhaps, but do not deprive him of the joy of learning." If you do not think that the mantle of leadership ought to allow you to break the tyranny of "zero tolerance" then perhaps you should go back to working in a job where zero thought is required, zero weighing of what is truly right and wrong, zero reasoning, for that is surely what you will have proved you are capable of.

No child in this society should be given such a horrible learning tool as this. To understand that when a modestly difficult call must be made (by you, to lift the ban on this childs education) adults scurry for the insulting cover of Zero Tolerance. It proves to them once again (as they have too oft already seen in our world) that there is nothing to be gained by having a brain and using it. Just follow some idiotic rules which have no real bearing on the situation at hand, and pretend you didn't want to get involved. Show some gumption, sir. Show you have a brain and are not afraid to use it. Lead by example, sir. You might find that rather than be seen as a gutless bureaucrat only interested in the ongoing life of the bureaucracy, you inspire some children in your area to actually admire an adult who takes a position because it is right. Had Ben Franklin, Geo. Washington and Thos. Jefferson felt a need to hide beyond "Zero Tolerance" at the outset of the American Revolution, I suspect we'd all be yet speaking with Liverpudlian accents, and drinking tea in the afternoon.

It's not to late to make a stand for what is right. And think of how well you will sleep, knowing you have inspired, for once, young people to understand the consequences of their own actions.

However you decide in this case, I would be happy to hear from you.

Yours truly

David Burnett

Colorado College '68 Poli Sci
Phd. Hon. Cau. 2007


Rich Gensheimer said...

Common Sense? David, what are you thinking? Common Sense went out the window long ago. Anyone who has passed through an airport, gear in tow, knows that.

Anna said...

Great letter David. I am just speechless. Time like this, I really am glad that my kids are not in the US school system. What ever happened to common sense. That Sup is nothing but a coward.

Yeah, I'm mad as hell also.

John said...