We don't envy public school teachers and administrators. They have trying jobs, and nobody seems to give them enough credit. Maybe it's no wonder that schools sometimes go a little crazy and traumatize students.
But sometimes, the craziest things schools do are done in the name of keeping kids safe, all logic be damned. Things like ...
#6. Forcing Students to Wear Electronic Tracking Devices
You know what's hard about running the school? Keeping track of all those freaking kids, most of whom don't even want to be there. Hell, look at what Mr. Rooney went through with Ferris Bueller.
With that in mind, two Houston, Texas, area schools started handing out radio frequency identification tracking tags to the students (at a district cost of $150,000) in the attempt to track the kids' movements on campus. The idea is to make it easier for administrators to make sure the students go to class (remember, state funding is tied to attendance).
Naturally, the technology has some flaws. For one, the badges can be taken off or handed to another pupil, allowing the students to do whatever they want anyway.
"Boy, there sure are a lot of kids hanging around the trash can."
For another, the system kind of straddles the line between overbearing and pointless, since the badges are of no help if, say, a student gets abducted or runs away (they only work within 100 feet of the building). So that's going to lead to some awkward conversations.
Administrator: Hello, Mrs. Smith. We're calling to let you know that our tracking system indicates your son left the building today.
Mrs. Smith: OK, so where the hell is he now?
Just 101 feet away, little Jimmy was mauled to death by wild animals.
Then there are the privacy issues that RFID technology usually brings to the table, along with parents concerned that the system where the identification data is stored could be hacked. And of course, there's the whole thing with training kids to get used to being electronically tracked at every moment of the day ...
Hey, and why stop here? If schools are willing to use electronic tracking, why not make truant kids wear ankle bracelets, like just-released felons? Oh, wait, a school in San Antonio is already doing that.
"I understand you're a boy who knows how to get things ...".
#5. Banning All Photography
We don't want to joke about pedophilia, or belittle all of the parents who spend time worrying about it. But there is a line between precaution and mindless panic.
"... so I should just turn myself in now? He won't let go."
For instance, to make sure all students are safe from the dangers of the world's online child porn mongers, a school in England has done the only logical thing they could think of -- ban everyone from taking any pictures of the students, ever. This ban applies to parents, other students, caretakers, friends, relatives ... basically all humans who attend any school events on or off campus, including school plays, sporting events and field trips.
Here's little Jimmy's fourth-grade photo!
So what's the big deal? First off, they're basically stripping away the possibility of capturing many of the valuable Kodak moments that happen in a child's formative years (the ones they'll want to show their own children so they can know what life was like before the Great Nano-Zombie Plague).
But more importantly, they're missing a great opportunity to actually do their jobs -- teaching children something meaningful that they can apply to the real world. Like, for instance, what to look out for when it comes to real-world creeps, other than "everyone who owns a camera."
"Oh God, take him before I make a record of this happy occasion!"
Also, either there is a real misunderstanding of how child porn works, or the school grossly overestimates the sexiness of its children. If allowing children to be photographed playing soccer or doing a drama club performance of Fiddler on the Roof is enough to turn on pedophiles, then we probably just have to accept that fact. The next step is just throwing a tarp over the students any time they're in public for fear that someone nearby is getting aroused.
Ghosts are the only language pedophiles understand.
#4. Absolutely NO Touching!
Middle school is a tough time for most students. On top of all their physical changes, they have raging hormones that convince them that all boys want to be hit as hard as possible, and all girls, no matter how much they resist or how fast they run away, are longing for that inappropriate touch.
"THIS IS HOW WE LEARN BOUNDARIES!"
To make sure nobody gets out of line and all students are safe, Fairfax Middle School in Virginia decided to start teaching students how to behave properly right when they walk in the door that first day. Just kidding! That wouldn't be fun for us at all. Instead, they seemed to take the easy way out and said, "Screw it -- no touching, ever."
"Repress your emotions! You'll thank me when you're stuck in a loveless marriage."
That's right -- in 2007, they banned any and all physical contact because the faculty believes students are incapable of understanding that there is a difference between a congratulatory high-five between two friends and a punch to the face.
"Great job on that test, buddy!"
This ban isn't just enforced in the classroom. Students are forbidden to touch each other while at lunch, in the hallway or at any other time during school hours.
The principal defended the ban, saying she's seen too many incidents of students playing bloody knuckles -- a game that involves two idiots slamming their knuckles together as hard as they can. This seems to imply that all touching is a slippery slope that always ends in slapstick fist-smashing.
The worst part is that FMS isn't the only school taking such extreme measures; these kinds of over-the-top precautions are showing up more often now that more school administrators have taken a ride on the crazy train (where they were apparently also groped and beaten). East Shore Middle School in Connecticut adopted the same policy in 2009. This one came about after a kick to the groin sent a student to the hospital.
This incident clearly warrants a knee-jerk reaction.
So, instead of banning groin kicks (which we suspect were already against the rules), East Shore banned hugging, high-fiving and shaking hands on school grounds. Students caught high-fiving a classmate could receive detention, a suspension or even expulsion.
Some students decided to fight back by duct taping their arms to their sides as a form of protest. Which also misses the point, since their legs would still be free for groin kicking. Damn, even their acts of defiance don't make sense.