Vol. 11, No. 2,553 - The American Reporter - January 5, 2005

Make My Day

by Erik Deckers
American Reporter Humor Writer
Syracuse, Indiana

SYRACUSE, Ind. -- Teaching is a noble profession, one that should attract the best and brightest to a rewarding career. Schools are filled with people who became teachers with the dream of shaping young minds and encouraging lifelong learning.

Unfortunately, some of these teachers become administrators, which crushes the lofty ideals they had when they first entered the profession (that, and the fact that after 32 weeks of school, most of them can't stand the little monsters anymore).

But occasionally I read news stories about these same administrators, and the phrase "couldn't find his rear end with both hands and a flashlight" immediately springs to mind.

According to a story in the Fort Worth (Tex.) Star-Telegram this past May, administrators at Diamond Hill-Jarvis High School were peering into students' cars in the school parking lot, when one of them spotted an eight-inch wooden bat inside a car. They tracked down the driver, sophomore Cory Henson, and pulled him out of class, thus disrupting his educational process. They then ordered him to unlock the car and searched it thoroughly, as more students ignored their education and watched from the windows.

Upon discovering that the bat had fallen off a baseball trophy - Cory is a junior varsity baseball player, mind you - they dropped their flashlights, declared the mini-bat to be a weapon, and immediately suspended him. He was suspended for four days, under Texas' Zero Tolerance scheme, which was hatched in 1995.

Zero Tolerance is the mantra of school administrators who insure their schools are safe from plastic butter knives, anti-PMS medicine, and students who say "hell" or "gay," as I have mentioned in previous columns.

Since Cory is a baseball player, he was also carrying a regulation-sized aluminum bat in his trunk with other baseball equipment. However, school administrators ignored this, because they had focused on the mini-bat with laser-like precision.

That's why Ignacio Torres, the school's assistant principal, said the mini-bat, and not the full-sized bat, was considered a weapon.

I can only imagine the scene, as young Cory Henson was yanked out of class, and told to unlock his car - a machine that generally weighs over a ton and kills thousands of people each year. They then confiscated the little wooden bat, and ignored the big aluminum bat, forgetting that bats are a favorite weapon of seedy bar owners and guys who "wanna know what you said about my sister."

The administrators then escorted Cory into school, which is filled with pens and pencils, any one of which could be used for stabbing. Cory may have listened to the band practice as he walked, and heard the drummers beating on their drums with sticks almost the same size as the one clutched in an administrator's sweaty hand.

Cory's head may have hung as he walked past the cafeteria, filled with metal forks and knives, and into the assistant principal's office, which contained more pens, pencils, and several pairs of scissors. I imagine he then had to call his mother, who drove her own one-ton vehicle to the school.

But apparently none of this concerned LoEster Posey, the director of student affairs for Fort Worth schools. He told the Star-Telegram that if an item is only "prohibited," such as a pocketknife, pepper spray, or firecrackers, the student will be given a warning. But if the item is "illegal," like an eight-inch mini-bat, then the student is suspended.

In other words, if you can whack someone with it, you'll be suspended. If you can only stab them, blind them, or blow their fingers off, you're just given a slap on the wrist. But if you can actually kill someone with an item like, say, a full-size aluminum baseball bat, you're allowed to keep it.

I realize that a small wooden bat can be used as a club, but so can any other item you find in a school. A large reference book from the library, a tray in the cafeteria, and even a well-thrown baseball can all become weapons in the right hands. Suspending a student for having a small bat in his car while ignoring a full-size bat borders on inept. But labeling knives, pepper spray, and firecrackers as only prohibited, while a stick is actually illegal, only reinforces my thoughts about school administrators.

It's often said that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. But when you combine it with a little power and very little common sense, then you're faced with something much deadlier than any miniature baseball bat.

Maybe we should ban school administrators instead.

Copyright 2005 Joe Shea The American Reporter. All Rights Reserved.