Pubdate: Sun, 21 Apr 2002
Source: Ottawa Citizen (CN ON)
Copyright: 2002 The Ottawa Citizen
Author: Tim Penner


Re: Zero tolerance in schools sends the wrong message, April 13.

Finally, a legal argument on the subjugation of human rights in schools. 
Many thanks to Lawrence Greenspon for entering the fray, giving credence to 
a situation I have been railing against for years -- since about 1970, 

Try to imagine the reaction of employees of a company if they were herded 
into a room (against their will, by the way), and held there while their 
private possessions were sniffed and rummaged. The employer would never see 
the sky outside the courthouse again.

But in a school, where the lawmakers say that students have fewer rights 
than accused criminals, the authorities are supreme.

Imagine if citizens could be convicted on hearsay, without being permitted 
a defence or to consult with a knowledgeable advocate, and then be quickly 
and summarily punished without the right to appeal.

I hope that the time is coming when schools must learn how to treat our 
children like citizens, like people. It should be quite a conundrum for an 
institution that has no problem allowing teachers to issue detentions to 
whole classes when one kid talks out of turn, and whose disciplinary 
protocols require confessions for alleged misbehaviour, and in whose 
offices one may often find armed and bulletproof-vested constables casually 
planning the next lockdown (as they, themselves, call it).

I do not mean to suggest that discipline is not a problem in schools -- far 
from it. But so it is in society at large, where law-enforcers are required 
to conform to strict codes of evidence and behaviour. That schools have 
evaded such requirements is clearly indicative, I believe, of how children 
are truly regarded in this culture.

Again, thank you Mr. Greenspon. And, please, don't stop now. It's nowhere 
near over.

Tim Penner,

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