Sunday, March 29, 2009

Extreme Administrative Reaction

At my son's school, the principal has instituted a ban on student groupings of more than 5 students; there has been a rash of fights recently, and this is the so-called solution. I don't quite see the cause and effect here, except that if there is a fight, and students gather around to watch, the watchers can be punished. Way to go, pinhead.

About a year and a half ago I wrote a post that included a story about a principal who instituted a "no hugging" policy at school, as the students were engaging in "hugging lines" and were being late to class. The principal went further, though, and explained when hugging is appropriate (airports, family reunions) and when it is not (frequent meetings in the hall at school). Her policy seemed narrowly tailored to fit the issue her school experienced, and I supported it.

Today, though, I received an email linking to this story, in which a Connecticut principal has banned any kind of contact between students.

"Observed behaviors of concern recently exhibited include kicking others in the groin area, grabbing and touching of others in personal areas, hugging and horseplay. Physical contact is prohibited to keep all students safe in the learning environment," Williams wrote.

Students and parents are outraged. They said the new policy means no high-fives and hugs, as well as horseplay of any kind. The consequences could be dire, Williams warned in the letter.

That doesn't seem reasonable at all. What's next, banning looking at other students? Perhaps, instead of attempting to remove humanity from students, the principal should explain what kind of reasonable behaviors are acceptable in a public setting like school, and punish only unreasonable behaviors. But no, we can't have that, because that would require the administrators to exercise some judgement. It's much easier to issue a blanket, stupid, rule, and enforce it to the nines.

I should create a category label called "administrative lobotomy", and put stories like this one in it.


KauaiMark said...

"...ban on student groupings of more than 5 students"

Well, there goes the football, soccer and baseball teams!

Fritz J. said...

Darren: I don't know if you read Big Lizards, but his take on this was a little more impassioned than yours. Here is the URL

maxutils said...

And classes, for that matter.


Anonymous said...

About 5 years ago our administration tried this at our middle school with disastrous results--student and parent upheaval.

Darren said...

Big Lizards pretty much nailed it.

allen (in Michigan) said...

The question I never receive an answer too is what the principal receives by being reasonable?

His ass is covered if there are any more fights and as to the inconvenience, what's that against the principal insulating himself from accusations of not protecting the students?

rightwingprof said...

Back in the early 80s when I was a grad student, we got a bunch of very fundie Muslim students. They demanded first that they be given no female teachers, and when it was explained to them that that was not possible, they demanded that if they had female teachers, they were not to look at them, ever.

A memo went out instructing female teachers never to look at their Muslim students. Dhimmitude has been around for years.