A Stumbling Block to School Administrators

Tuesday, December 15, AD 2009

Hattip to Ed Morrissey at Hot Air.  As someone who received an undergraduate degree in the teaching of social studies, I am never very surprised when a school administration decides to engage in an act of public stupidity, however, this incident is in a class all by itself.

A second grade student at the Maxham Elementary School in Taunton, People’s Republic of Massachusetts, was sent home from school after drawing a picture of Jesus on the cross.  The student made the drawing in response to a class assignment that the students draw something that reminded them of Christmas.  Apparently the student’s dullard teacher decided that the drawing of the cross was too violent.  The school administration, in a move which hearkens back to the old Soviet Union placing dissidents in psych wards, decreed that not only would the child be sent home, but that he would have to undergo a psych evaluation.

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17 Responses to A Stumbling Block to School Administrators

  • That’s “The Peoples Republic of Taxachusetts.” Otherwise known as “the Pay State.”

  • Well it’s kind of a happy ending.

    He still had to get a psychiatric evaluation and be approved that he was “sane”.

    He did just that and “passed”.

    He then was so traumatized by the entire incident he didn’t want to return to the same school so the father is petitioning (I think he got approval) for his son to transfer.

    This is very scary. For a school administrator to cater to hate-mongering of an innocent depiction of Jesus’ crucifixion makes my blood boil.

  • I would NEVER take my child to a psychologist over this, but I learned my lesson the hard way. When my son (who was then seven) was having trouble in class, the school wouldn’t do anything until we had a complete evaluation to make sure he didn’t have psychological or emotional problems. My husband and I went for OUR evaluation with the school psychologist (“case history” stuff before he was scheduled for a trip) and were so unimpressed with her that we cancelled his eval and went to our pediatrician instead. Our son didn’t even know anything was going on. Then, when things got really ridiculous (I was observing in the classroom and the teacher was incompetent) I threatened to take him out of school and he was moved immediately. His problems were solved. I learned then not to do ANYTHING the school said (not the lesson they intended to teach) but instead to insist on my child’s rights under the law. And they wonder why parents are antagonistic! Could an 8-year-old be traumatized over this incident? You bet, depending on the kid and on how it was handled. The parents should have had a nice, calm, conversation with the principal and the teacher. And then if that didn’t work, they should simply have said that he would be back in class the next day or the school would hear from their lawyer the next day.

    All schools freak out over violence. When my son was eight he used to draw soldiers, bloody knives, spaceships shooting each other, etc. on his papers. The teachers told us that was “unacceptable” and so just told him that the school was silly about things like that, so he would have to draw those things at home. Don’t ALL little boys draw that stuff? Likewise, same year, he got a discipline point for reading an “inappropriate” book in class. When I asked the teacher what it was, she said it was a book about the Battle of Gettysburg and it had photographs of dead soldiers in it. I told her that he got it from the SCHOOL LIBRARY, so she took the discipline point away — but he still couldn’t read the book in class.

    They are all terrified of boys becoming violent. My kids are now in Catholic school, but they can’t bring in toy guns — even neon-colored plastic squirt guns — for skits and things.

  • It seems like there are plenty of news stories everyday of the public schools doing something not terribly intelligent….

    This has especially been on my mind with kids right around the corner. What a faddish wastebasket of wishful thinking many schools are…..read about the Kansas City case (and New Jersey, for that matter, following the court cases of the 80s) for example.

    What folly!
    http://www.cato.org/pubs/pas/pa-298es.html

    What is needed is not more money but better moral foundations.

  • This is the logical result of all those “zero tolerance” anti-violence, anti-sexual harassment, and drug abuse policies that became so popular after Columbine.

    Zero tolerance policies forbidding absolutely ANY word, image, object or action that even hints at violence allow school administrators to APPEAR to be doing something about youth violence, without the bother of actually having to get to know students personally, judge each case individually, or risk being accused of racism or discrimination if the child/youth involved happens to be of a protected minority group.

    The result is that little kids get busted for drawing crucifixes, kissing girl classmates on Valentine’s Day, etc. while outside (or even inside), gang violence, suicide, drug abuse, etc. continue unabated.

    The main reason schools are “terrified of boys becoming violent” is because so many of them HAVE NO FATHERS and therefore no idea how to be real men, except by being the kind of macho jerks they see on TV or in movies.

  • Zero tolerance usually means zero brains. It allows administrators to mindlessly follow policy rather than to make real decisions, which of course is what they are supposed to be doing. True profiles in uselessness.

    I agree that public schools usually have no clue as to how to handle boys who act, well, like boys. A perfect example is a timeout. Most of the time a timeout will simply make an energetic boy bored and hostile. Much better to give him a task to accomplish, especially if it is something physical. Of course this is just common sense knowledge of the differences between girls and boys, something that seems to be verboten in public schools, but which is obvious to most parents who have spent time rearing both boys and girls.

  • I’m not a “rogue parent” at my daughters’ virtual school (where my wife is also a teacher). My emails to their former teacher (who was not accommodating my eldest’s disability) are now being quoted regularly at meetings as signs of a parent to watch out for. The latest suggestion was that parents who challenge “school policy” (which is defined as the whim the principal, a Charlestonian elitist who goes way back with Mark Sanford) could be charged with educational neglect.

  • Well … if you believe every dad trying to horn in on America’s reality tv culture …

  • Having dealt with public schools Todd both as an attorney and as a parent, I readily confess that I am more inclined to believe parents over administrators until the opposite is proven.

  • Well … if you believe every dad trying to horn in on America’s reality tv culture …

    Heard that before.

    http://amywelborn.typepad.com/openbook/2005/11/expelled.html

  • What Mr. McClarey said on Paul Zummo’s Cranky Conservative bears repeating: “The forces of open minded tolerance so often are represented by narrow minded bigots.”

    Quite frankly, I’m surprised “Christmas” was even mentioned, much less had an assignment attached to it.

  • “I readily confess that I am more inclined to believe parents over administrators …”

    It would seem there’s a good bit more to the story than was posted here. What’s still standing today is a he-said/they-said tussle that’s more than two weeks old. The news reports I’ve seen is that the drawing was not the one that got the young lad noticed, that there’s a history with the boy and his family, and that nobody was expelled from school. It would seem enough doubt has been thrown into this story to cause prudent observers to withhold judgment. Clearly, Donald shows us why he stayed at the attorneys’ tables and never ascended to the judiciary bench.

    In my long experience in parishes and schools, I often find that two sides in a dispute often are talking past each other and not even in agreement on the point(s) in question. It’s usually adequate enough to make the communication connection and allow diplomacy to smooth kinks in the relationship.

    What Art seems to be getting at is this: one must agree with him not only on the major points, but on every small detail of politics in situations like these. No room for dissent from the jots and tittles of the Catholic blogetariat.

    I would hold it is possible to be right (pointing out a grave moral or administrative error, for example) but to go about it in the wrong way (producing a forged document, or making oneself a threat–even just a perceived one–to a school administration). Prudence would dictate leaving the judgment to the Judge, and taking necessary precautions for one’s own children, or one’s own morality, depending on the circumstances.

  • “Clearly, Donald shows us why he stayed at the attorneys’ tables and never ascended to the judiciary bench.”

    Actually Todd, that is by choice. The legal profession is not one where all attorneys wish to be judges. Some, as in my case, make it very clear to judges who indicate that we would make a good judge that we do not wish to have to wear a black robe on the job.

    The school administration, after coming under intense media scrutiny yesterday, has a different story from the parent. That is as surprising as the sun coming up in the east or bureaucrats dodging responsibility. This incident in June 2008 indicates to me that bozos are in charge of the Taunton school system and that the parent is probably more accurate:

    “This is not the first time in recent years that a Taunton student has been sent home over a drawing. In June 2008, a fifth-grade student was suspended from Mulcahey Middle School for a day after creating a stick figure drawing that appeared to depict him shooting his teacher and a classmate.

    The Mulcahey teacher also contacted the police to take out charges in the 2008 incident.”

    http://www.tauntongazette.com/news/x1903566059/Taunton-second-grader-suspended-over-drawing-of-Jesus

  • I’ve also read that there was a gun incident in that school district not too long ago. Parents themselves insist that schools be hypervigilant when it comes to the safety of their children. A one-day suspension for a blatant act of insubordination to a teacher … I’m sure you saw enough contempt of court citations in your years in the courtroom. Authority figures take authority very seriously.

    According to you, the school administration was a loser no matter what they did. If they were totally wrong, they could confess or clam up or lie. If they had justification for criticizing the lad, they could either remain silent on the matter and let the conservatives spin it, or they could offer a public rebuttal. By your statement, whether they lied or told the truth, your reaction would be the same.

    The caveat emptor in this case: if something sounds too good to be ideologically true, it probably is. Given how this story is unravelling for the father, I’d say there are a number of media and blog outlets with egg on their faces today.

  • What Art seems to be getting at is this: one must agree with him not only on the major points, but on every small detail of politics in situations like these. No room for dissent from the jots and tittles of the Catholic blogetariat.

    News to me.

    I’ve also read that there was a gun incident in that school district not too long ago.

    So we call the cops over some other kid’s droodles.

  • Part of feminizing men is to make all violence bad because boys tend to violence. Ladies, before you get upset with me, there is nothing wrong with the feminine – I love and respect my beautiful bride and the Blessed Virgin Mary – but women should be women and men should be men – equal in dignity yet different.

    Violence is not necessarily bad, or good. It just is. Drawing a picture of Christ crucified is a picture of violence – what could be more violent than Diecide?
    Mel Gibson’s movie was also violent – too violent for some tastes. Was this bad violence? I don’t think so, the worst evil was also the greatest good. There is nothing wrong with depicting Christ crucified, in fact there is everything right with it, as violent as it is. All men should wish to be Christ on His Cross.

    Boys are violent – boys like guns, swords, fights, tanks, knights, cavalry, shields, war games, etc. and that is as it should be. Our job as a society, and by logical extension our school systems, is to direct and temper that violence – not emasculate it.

    Thank God that the generation born in the 1920s was violent. They went overseas and did some violence to the Nazis – and I am pretty sure we’re all happy with how that turned out.

  • “Our job as a society, and by logical extension our school systems, is to direct and temper that violence – not emasculate it.”

    Which is exactly what a society in which vast numbers of young boys are raised without stable father figures fails to do. Even among animals like elephants, the presence of older males keeps fighting among the younger ones from getting out of hand.

    Was the World War II generation really any more “violent” than we are? I’m not so sure. Yes, boys played with guns, collected toy soldiers, and played cops, robbers, cowboys and Indians and other politically incorrect games. However if you take a look at the movies from that era, even the toughest tough guys like Bogart, Cagney, et al. used far less firepower and killed far fewer bad guys in 10 movies than, say, Bruce Willis or Arnold Schwarzenegger did in just one.

    Also, Knight, I think you overlook the fact that there are times when women can or must become “violent” in a “good” sense, particularly when defending their children from harm. Again, even among animals, a mother defending her young from real or percieved threat is often far more dangerous than the male.

Football Player Flagged For His Faith After Touchdown Celebration

Wednesday, October 7, AD 2009

Most football fans can relate to scoring a touchdown.  Especially when seeing your favorite team or player score one youChris Johnson flagged for praying or celebrating too much jump up and give high-fives, chest bumps, or take shots of your favorite spirits.

Well in the NFL, or what is sometimes called the “No Fun League”, this past Sunday Chris Johnson of the Oakland Raiders went to his knees and claimed he was giving thanks to God after intercepting a pass for a touchdown.  He was immediately flagged for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for excessive celebration.  Chris Johnson claims it was because he made a religious display while celebrating the touchdown.

I’m of a different mind when it comes to celebrating touchdowns.  The town I grew up in playing football as well as how I practice my faith I generally frown upon celebrating in the end zone.  The way I look at it is that it’s your job to score points.  I don’t chest bump my colleague each time I turn on my computer at work?!  I don’t high-five the secretary for each message she hands over to me?!

It’s your j-o-b to intercept footballs and run them back for touchdowns.

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24 Responses to Football Player Flagged For His Faith After Touchdown Celebration

  • Sounds like a bad call. Ref probably misunderstood, that’s all.

  • I don’t chest bump my colleague each time I turn on my computer at work?! I don’t high-five the secretary for each message she hands me over?!

    Thank you! This is the point I have always made. At least with the guy scoring a touchdown he has done something really significant. What really infuriates me are the guys who dance around like idiots after tackling a guy who has made a 5-yard gain. Err, what exactly are you celebrating there buddy?

    Then again, considering how few tds the Raiders will score this year, maybe the ref should have just let this one go. After all, what other than divine intervention can explain a Raider actually getting into the end zone?

  • Yeah, I agree Paul. And it is worse than simply celebrating for doing your job. A defensive player who celebrates for making a good tackle after a successful offensive play is placing his individual performance over that of his team. It is unseemly and irritating to real football fans everywhere.

    I have absolutely no problem with celebrating after a team makes a particularly good play, but it should not cross the line into taunting.

  • If you want to celebrate in the NFL it’s a called a “Super Bowl Parade”.

  • My mother, a devout Catholic from Italy, would practically foam at the mouth when athletes would credit God with their success. “So, what, God hates the Vikings?! God doesn’t care about your game!” she’d yell.

    I’ve always wanted to see someone stand up after a game and say, “I was doing great until Jesus made me fumble.” (If God is making one team win, he’s making the other lose.)

  • LOL, foam at the mouth!

    I don’t worked up about it. But I do not approve of it.

    I’m not saying it’s wrong, but the way I read about humility, what they do in the endzone does not portray what a practicing Christian should behave as.

  • I don’t know, getting on your knees and thanking God for your success in front of multitudes of people seems pretty humble to me. Though, I don’t care for over the top displays.

  • In and of itself, I see nothing wrong with an athlete publicly thanking God for giving him the opportunity and ability to make a great play. I don’t understand these practices as thanking God for favoring them or their team as such, just acknowledgements that their talents come from God and gratitude is in order.

  • Katherine B.,
    I agree completely.

  • What’s wrong with praising God? Thought America was a land where we can have freedom of Speech.

  • I’m not so sure what to make of Tito Taco’s commentary here.

    There are many examples where you might witness folks giving thanks to God in sports be it a touchdown in football or a homerun in baseball, simply because they’re genuine grateful to God or perhaps due to a certain enthusiasm that overwhelms them that very moment or maybe even both.

    Now, if Tacoboy were talking about certain folks, say rappers (in fact, one in particular), who did a rap song about God supposedly in order to glorify Him, but when he failed to win the award for it for Best Song way back when, complained like a petulant child and even arrogantly bragged that the award belonged to no one but him — that demonstrates not only a severe lack of Christian humility but also, I dare say, hypocrisy, too.

    Heck, that might also go for rappers in general who, for the most part, promote gang violence and even engdender much hatred towards white folk; yet, when they win a music award, the first one they thank *SHOCK* is God!?

  • Luiza & e.,

    So you’re telling me that each time your boss gives you a pat on the back you immediately bend to your knees in front of him and pray out loud?

  • Tito:

    There is the possibility that it might simply be for “show”, but for the most part, I would think that the person who just made the touchdown/homerun was (1) genuinely thankful for having made such an achievement within a game, (2) overcome by the exhilaration he felt at that very moment, which manifested itself in a rather ostentatious display of thanking God then, or (3) both.

    In fact, there’s a time I recall while playing basketball with some friends during free time at university, that when I made a 3-point shot from a very considerable distance; because of what I considered then to be a “miracle” shot for myself, coupled with a sense of excitement right then after I made the shot, I happened to thank God for my having made it.

  • It’s not the “praising God” that’s a problem, it’s that “for show” part.

    I went to high school with a guy who used to cross himeslf before running a track event. It wasn’t that he was particularly religious; he was of South American parentage and did it for reasons of “cultural identity.”

    In the immortal words of John Riggins:
    “When you get to the end zone, act like you’ve been there before.”

  • That quote existed long before Riggins played football. It is most commonly attributed to the Bear.

    Tito,
    It is plain that you never played football. Trying to discern appropriate behavior on the gridiron by analogizing to what is appropriate at the office just doesn’t work. When I win a big case, we don’t carry our managing partner or first chair litigator to the champagne, but it these types of celibrations are certainly perfectly fine for football.

  • Mike,

    Lets play logic.

    Does a heart surgeon have to have heart surgery in order to operate?

    Like I said, a Super Bowl parade is the time for such behavior.

    And yes, I played football, right tackle thank you very much.

  • It’s a GAME! They are PLAYING. Let them PLAY!

  • Bill,

    Glad to see you around here!

    I agree it’s just a game, but you have to agree to some extent that some celebrations do get out of hand.

  • You’re right: it was the Bear, not Riggo.

    This is what happens when one is married to a D.C. boy. Everything begins and ends with the Redskins, even when they’re losing.

  • Tito:

    Lets play logic…. Does a heart surgeon have to have heart surgery in order to operate?

    Is there anything the matter with a heart surgeon, after having successfully operated on a patient who had little or no chance at all making it, thanking God afterwards for quite possibly making that very operation a success?

    cminor:

    It’s not the ‘praising God’ that’s a problem, it’s that ‘for show’ part.

    Personally, I have great admiration for major league baseball players who actually have the guts to cross themselves during a game in spite of the fact that they might get persecuted not only by secular thugs but *SHOCK* fellow Christians who are only too happy to stone them all because of their paying witness to Christ in front of a largely anti-Christian crowd (and that would most certainly include those purportedly Christian hypocrites, too)!

  • Oh, and by the way:

    But he that shall deny me before men, I will also deny him before my Father who is in heaven. (Mt 10:33)

    In other words, there is much to be said for the Protestant notion of paying witness that, quite unfortunately, certain Catholics have been remissed at professing in public; worse, they would even stone those who actually do!

  • Tito,
    To answer your logic question, the answer is no. But before a person critizes a heart surgeon for his performance, it would certainly be helpful to have experience as a heart surgeon. And being a patient would seem to be pretty inadequate.
    Make no mistake. I cannot stand gratuitous displays of taunting and celebrations that are inordinate or, as you state, get out of hand. But spontaneous displays of joy upon accomplishment is not offensive to me; and I agree with e. that public displays of gratitude to one’s Creator are actually somewhat counter-cultural and pleasing, as long as they do not appear gratuitous and designed predominantly to bring attention to oneself. It is a matter of degree and context. I do agree that many, perhaps most, of the celebratory displays we see are unsportsmanlike and regrettable, but it just isn’t clear to me that this is an example of such. The rule was promulgated to combat unsportsmanlike taunting, and I agree with the rule; but I find it doubtful that this was such a case.

  • Mike,

    I agree about the rule.

    What I am saying is that, beyond the rule, if you want to thank God do it appropriately, not to show off.

    e.,

    Stop drinking your hippie neighbors kool-ade.

  • The lord gave each of us gifts, skills, hobbies and trades to which he blessed us to be great in.

    Celebrate the achievments, honor him and shine light on great, glorious moments.

    I know there have been MANY times I have stopped dead in my tracks and Thanked the Lord and I’m betting all of you have too. The only difference is that he was on National television and we are not.

    Should all of us be flagged and fined because we weren’t in the confines of our home when we have fell to our knees in appreciation or because we bow our heads in a public restraunt?

    I am proud to honor my lord and whether it be on television or at home I am not ashamed nor am I not being humble.

    But he that shall deny me before men, I will also deny him before my Father who is in heaven. (Mt 10:33)

    Perfect example.