Rules are certainly necessary to maintain some sense of order in organizations and in society itself. But too often rules are enforced without any regard to intent. Also too often rules seem to be put into place just for the sake of having rules without any thought about whether the rules are even necessary. For some reason, schools seem to be the worst about this sort of thing. Here are a few examples:
- A 17 year-old was thrown into jail for missing/being late for school too often. So what if both parents have left her to fend for herself. So what if she is working two jobs to help support herself and two siblings. So what that despite that, she is still an HONOR student taking advanced placement courses and courses which will also earn her college credit. As the judge put it, “If you let one run loose, what are you going to do with the rest of ’em?” That’s right, we risk having more of these vagrants working hard toward college! But hey, who is he to judge? He’s just a…um….judge? Rules are rules.
- A middle school student was suspended for a day when he held the door open for a women who had her hands full. You see, the school has a strict policy that you can’t hold a door open for any adult that hasn’t first been vetted by a security camera. So what if the student knew her and knew she wasn’t a threat. As the superintendent explained, “”You have to have a system, and that system has to be consistent. We have to stay within the rules and stay secure.” That’s right, one day a kid is being polite. The next day the League Of Doom is setting up shop in your school. Slippery slope you know. Rules are rules.
- A high school student was suspended for growing his hair too long. Oh, did I mention that he is a leukemia survivor? Or that he was growing his hair long in order to donate that hair to Locks Of Hair, a charity that makes wigs for cancer patients? Or that he is going that in honor of his friend’s sister that was diagnosed with cancer? Well I didn’t mention those things because they don’t matter! Cancer is bad. But not half as bad as the cancer that is boys with long hair! Damn hippies! Rules are rules.
- A middle school student was given a 10-day suspension for sharing a fish oil pill. You see, this makes him a drug pusher! Just say no to LSD, cocaine, marijuana, and fish oil pills! Fortunately he did have the option to have that suspension cut in half if he sought out drug counseling. I hope they can end his nasty fish oil pill pushing ways! Rules are rules.
Suspensions for hugging…and singing….45 days reform school for a 6-year-old that had a camping utensil on him (omg, it’s a weapon!!!!!!!)….it just goes on and on. I would even go on and add simple things that I remember from when I was going to school, like not being able to talk during lunch (oh, you can talk quietly but as soon as it actually sounds like a room of children talking….oh we have to nip that in the bud! NO TALKING!). I kind of assumed those things would have changed, but talking to friends who are sending kids to school, it doesn’t sound like it has changed much. Is there any thought about why we are trying to make kids not act like kids even during free time like during lunch and between classes?
Fortunately people are beginning to question such things as “zero tolerance” policies. Hopefully we will realize that having rules for the sake of having rules and also not exercising discretion when enforcing those rules is just plain dumb. We make the rules in the first place, no one should be able to just shrug their shoulders when something that is plainly dumb happens and say ‘hey, it’s a rule, nothing I can do about it.’