We have another absurd enforcement of the zero tolerance rule at our schools. This one occurred in Cincinnati, Ohio where Principal Joe Crachiolo, (left) at Our Lady of Lourdes School (a Catholic Elementary School) suspended a first grader who was caught playing a Power Ranger and used an imaginary bow and arrow in play. Just to repeat. This was a first grader and an imaginary bow and arrow.
We have previously followed the suspensions and discipline of students under zero tolerance policies that are used by teachers to justify zero judgment or responsibility. I have long criticized zero tolerance policies that have led to suspensions and arrests of children (here, here and here and here and here). Here is a prior column on the subject (and here). Children have been suspended or expelled for drawing stick figures or wearing military hats or bringing Legos shaped like guns or even having Danish in the shape of a gun. Even teeshirts with patriotic or constitutional themes involving guns have been the basis for discipline. Despite the public outcry over the completely irrational and abusive application of zero tolerance rules, administrators and teachers continue to apply them blindly. If you do not have to exercise judgment, you can never been blamed for any failure. Conversely, even when the public outcry results in a reversals, teachers and administrators never seem punished with the same vigor for showing no judgment or logic in punishing a child.
This six-year-old simply pretended to use a bow and arrow and Crachiolo should that it was enough for a suspension. The parents, Matthew and Martha Miele, were understandably shocked but the public outcry did not less the resolve of Crachiolo:
“I have no tolerance for any real, pretend, or imitated violence. The punishment is an out of school suspension.”
How is this for an alternative policy? Let’s declare zero tolerance for educators like Crachiolo who show zero sense or discretion in their positions. Until educators are held responsible for these decisions, we will continue to see children victimized by these decisions. Zero tolerance means zero responsibility or judgment for many teachers. The blind application of these rules will continue so long as the decisions (even when reversed) come with no accountability.
I understand that Crachiolo may be a very good principal and is acting out of a deep-seated belief that this is the right thing, but he is wrong in my view and has punished a child for common play acting. While he believes that he is teaching kids to be non-violent, he is really teaching them to accept arbitrary and senseless authority in my view. This could have been handled with a visit with the parents or a note to home (even if you want to ban such play). In the end, I am doubtful that such actions will change the desire of children to play such games and I also doubt that such games actually contribute to violence. Instead, it contributes to a view that children (and by extension citizens) must yield to such capricious policies of authorities in our society.
What do you think?
37 thoughts on “First Grader Plays A Power Ranger With Imaginary Bow and Arrow . . . Ohio School Suspends Him For Three Days”
I HAD MY OWN SET OF ROY ROGERS CAP GUNS AND EXTRA CAP ROLLS PLAYING COWBOYS AND OUTLAWS DURING RECESS PULLING, FIRING TWIRLING, SPINNING AND RETURNING TO HOLSTER/ RIDING IMAGENERY HORSES . NO ONE WAS SUSPENDED AND SURE KIDS GOT HURT. ONE KID GOT HURT JUMPING OFF THE JUNGLE JIM AND ANOTHER GOT FOOT UNDER MERRY GO ROUND WHEN HE FELL. WE HAD NURSE ON CALL OR TEACHER IF SOMEONE GOT A SKINNED KNEE OR BLACK EYE ….
WE LEARNED THAT WE WERE RESPONSIBLE FOR WHAT HAPPENED TO US AND NO ONE ELSE. IF YOU SUSSPEND A KID HE WILL BELIEVE HE IS ON VACATION FROM SCHOOL NO MATTER WHAT HES TOLD.AND FEELS HE IS BETTER THEN THE OTHER KIDS WHO DID NOT HAVE VACATION/ SUSPENTION. WRITING 200 TIMES ON BLACK BOARD WAS MORE EFFECTIVE. IN JAPAN PUNISHMENT IS STANDING OUTSIDE CLASS DOOR HOLDING BUCKETS OF WATER BOTH PUNISHMENT AND EXERCISE. KIDS SHOULD NOT BE TREATED AS ADULTS.KIDS SHOULD BE ABLE TO EXPERIENCE BEING KIDS WITH IMAGENATION AND NOT BEING SENT ON SUSPENTION VACATION FOR USING THEIR IMAGINATION .WITHOUT BEING TREATED AS ADULTS UNTIL THEY ARE TEENAGERS. ,~
Let me say, while we have disagreement on the 3 posts today, it is all civil and sane. Very refreshing!
I am loath to think what would have happened to the guys in Mrs. Finklestein’s 5th grade class. They were playing Allies & Nazis, fighting WWII on paper. She used their fascination with guns and tanks for history lessons about WWII.
If I were that principal I’d probably play along, exaggerate too much, and hurt myself. Then caution the kid about the dangers of imaginary arrows.
That was my point. A parent should never be at a loss to teach the behavior they expect of their children. If they are relying on others to do this for them then they WILL be at a loss in circumstances such as this.
Good point bam bam
Fear of being sued by some over protective, overly sensitive, politically correct parents is likely one of the driving forces for the inflexible and robotic no tolerance policies.
“there” not their.
bam, I mentioned on the other thread the culpability of attorneys in this insanity. Yes, this is the implementation of legal advice that you must treat all the same. Poor legal advice and/or poor implementation. You see, while their are ignorant educators, there is an ample supply of ignorant barristers as well. Great combo, isn’t it!
Oops. . .on my phone. . .hit the wrong key. . .
. . .districts have failed to maintain a safe environment for their children?
but they had no idea what to tell their son that would make this a “teachable” moment.
Teach…..Not all adults or people in power are right. Sometimes they are not even smart or kind but can be stupid and mean. You did not do anything wrong and we are not upset with you. Be strong. Be yourself.
Remember this lesson when you get old enough to be an adult yourself. The people who have power over you only have the power you give them.
This thread, like the other one describing a school’s reaction to a hug, seems to concentrate on the wrong aspect, if you ask me. Okay, we get it. Everyone reading these about these overreactions is outraged. Fantastic. We get it. What isn’t being discussed, however, is the motivating factor BEHIND these situations. WHY do school principals, teachers, and, more importantly, their boards, increasingly find it necessary to institute these stifling and rigid policies and procedures? That, in my opinion, needs to be answered in order to correct any perceived wrongs in the system. Are these school districts afraid of lawsuits, where parents will declare that the institutions and their respective school disyricts
bettykath, Back in the 70/80’s, when feminism was nascent, the mantra was “There are no differences than boys and girls, it’s all cultural influences that make them different.” Of course, anyone w/ a high school education knew that was blatantly false, ignoring the 2 sciences of biology and anthropology. We had friend who was an adamant feminist. She ended up having 4 boys. She did not allow any toy guns in the house. She laughed as she looked back as the boys would use her clothespins, knitting needles, anything that they could get their hands on to play shoot @ one another. This smart woman quickly realized she was lied to by the feminists she worshiped. Two of the boys ended up being hockey players for chrissake!
Paul C. Schulte – “This is part of the sissifying of our little boys. They want to make little boys into little girls. Well, I am old enough I do not have to put up with this b.s.”
I don’t quite know how to process this. I used a cap gun when I was very young. It belonged to my brother (as did the train and erector sets that I coveted but wasn’t allowed to touch). It looked like a gun and made bangs. It was great to use when I chased after that brother. Now, I’m very much anti-violence. The point is, toys are stimulants for the imagination. The most manly of men that I know are also very much anti-violence and some of them have seen combat. They prefer to settle disputes in non-violent ways. And they sure aren’t sissies.
bettykath – as adults we try to settle things as non-violently as possible. Ask your manly friends about their childhood.
Has anyone suggested that the teacher receive psychiatric counseling? Because her reaction was not merely unreasonable, but it sounds like deranged paranoia. I’m not sure children are safe around her.
The big downside here is that kids are growing up from an earlier and earlier age with a disdain for adult authority and adults as well. When I went to school the understanding that this or that teacher had faults and therefore what they said may not have any validity started in Junior High School or Middle School. This is normal, for kids to see through adults as they present themselves and their authority. However, now kids are being introduced to adults as idiots from the first grade on.
Those kids that are prone to rebel and naturally find flaws in the system, those kids that might be twisted into a less than promising future through placing themselves outside of and perhaps on top of the authority under which they find themselves, are the victims here.
This official is mindless at the time of a person’s life when it is most important to be mindful. Shame on him. Shame on the parents for allowing him to stay.
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