It’s not that I don’t care about K-12 education in Wisconsin. I DO care, very much.
But I have a hard time getting my undies in a bundle over Gov. Scott Walker’s proposed education spending reductions because I have this fantasy that maybe if school administrators have less money, they’ll have less time to come up with dumb stuff in the name of political correctness.
Take the Seattle public school administrators who decided that the term “Easter egg” is culturally offensive,” and substituted the term “spring spheres” instead.
How much do I hate this? Let’s start with the fact that eggs – at least the ones used in conjunction with Easter -- are NOT spheres: They’re ovoids. I learned that in eighth-grade geometry. I object most strenuously to people who should know better teaching children something that simply is not true.
I also hate the fact that the administrators are trying to pretend Easter doesn’t exist. It does, as do Ramadan and Passover. It is a legal holiday. Even if you don’t believe that Christ rose from the dead on Easter Sunday, that doesn’t mean that Easter doesn’t happen.
I support the separation of church and state and would not want teachers preaching to my kids. But I should think that, in a sane world, teachers could use the occasion of Easter to teach all the children about, say, the prevalence of the Christian religion in the United States. Or the fact that bunnies don’t lay eggs. Or that eggs were originally a pagan symbol of the renewal of springtime and have nothing to do with Christianity. They could use the occasions of Passover and Ramadan for the same “teachable moments.”
Then there’s the Chicago public school where an administrator banned lunches brought from home. She’s enforcing this nutritional version of PC on the grounds that school lunches are more nutritious than the lunches kids bring from home.
Well, maybe – but only if the kids eat the school lunches, which many of them don’t. Frankly, as a mother, I rather my kid ate chocolate chip cookies for lunch than nothing at all. You can’t learn if your stomach is growling so loud you can’t hear the teacher talking.
And can you think of a better way to make some kids hate school than forcing them to eat mystery meat, government cheese and vegetables that have been cooked into mush? I bet they can’t wait to drop out and spend all day hanging around the Food Court at the nearest mall.
When the Chicago Tribune first broke the story, it was supposed to illustrate how much healthier school lunches have become. But lots of people saw it more ominously, as yet another sign of the creeping Nanny State.
The same thing happened when the New York Times reported that in some schools that have banned chocolate milk, milk consumption by elementary school students to drop by 35 percent. Parents were outraged. How do you expect to teach a kid to make “good choices” if you don’t give them any choices to make? And a picky eater is better off with a carton of chocolate skim than nothing at all.
Then there was the Rhode Island elementary school that invited its students to decorate hats. An 8-year-old took a camouflage baseball cap and glued an American flag and several little toy army men to it, as a way to honor our troops. But the school banned the hat because the little, tiny plastic guns that the little, tiny toy soldiers were holding violated the school’s zero tolerance policy on weapons.
You can’t make this stuff up.
Now, none of this stuff happened in Wisconsin schools. Our administrators seem to be more focused on cracking down on cell phones, dirty dancing and breast cancer awareness bracelets that say “I (heart) Boobies” – although a Baraboo administrator once banned the chant “USA!” from sports events because he said it meant “You Suck A--!”
Still, if the governor’s budget forces some administrators to cut back on staff to the point where they don’t have time to worry about political correctness in the classroom or the lunchroom, that’s fine by me.
A few months ago, I wrote in this space about a young man, Zach, in his first year of teaching who decided to wear a tie to school every day to make himself look older. Some of his fellow teachers mocked him for wearing ties, but his students liked it so much, they began wearing ties themselves.
Last month, a 15-year-old who had been expelled from the middle school where Zach teaches, entered the school a few minutes after 7 a.m. and shot another 15-year-old twice in the stomach.
Zach was the first one at the scene, and held the victim in his arms until paramedics arrived.
The victim is still in the hospital. The shooter is to be tried as an adult.
And Zach got blood on his tie.
-April 26, 2011