Wednesday, August 13, 2008

March of the Lemmings

OK, we all know school administrators have gone more than a little nutty over the last decade or so. Under the guise of protecting students from guns, drugs, and pedophiles, but mostly to protect school administrators from lawsuits, many schools have adopted zero-tolerance policies. Rather than judge each situation or problem on its own merit and make an educated decision, many schools have blanket policies that require no thought. These policies have resulted in some ludicrous decisions including the sexual assault arrest of a first grader for kissing another first grader on the cheek and the suspension of multiple students nationwide for bringing Tylenol, ibuprofen, or vitamins to school.

This story however, by far, is the single most ridiculous thing I have come across and I'm so proud it's happening in my own back yard:

Great Bridge band can perform at Disney but can't go on rides


School officials said today that the Great Bridge High School marching band will be allowed to perform in the Citrus Bowl Parade and in a parade on Disney World’s Main Street this year — they just won’t be allowed to go on any of the rides.

Students in the band and their parents had been planning to go before the school board next week to get permission to perform in the parades over their winter break. The Great Bridge High marching band has played in both parades every four years, for the past 16 years.

Parents and students say that they’ve been denied permission to go perform this year, because of a school division rule put in place in 2006 that bans trips to amusement parks and water parks. The rule is in response to incidents that took place in other parts of the country in which students on field trips were injured on park rides, school spokesman Tom Cupitt said.

Cupitt said the band can still travel to perform, but students must not go on any rides.

“They can do it, as long as once they’re done with the performance they get back on the bus and go to the hotel,” he said.

But no parents or students had been informed of any changes to the situation since last week, when band members were told that they wouldn’t be allowed to go, said band parent Robin Berens. They’re still planning on going before the board during the meeting Aug. 25.


You get the impression that Cupitt didn't actually hear the words he was saying. If I understand this correctly, he's suggesting the band travel (by bus most likely) from Virginia to Florida, march in a parade at Disney World, and then go back to the hotel or perhaps just jump right back on the bus for the ride home to Virginia. Because why else would they stay at Disney World if they can't go on any rides? Classic.

This reminds me of my trip to France in high school. Our French teacher was very young and probably bit off more than she could chew when she decided to take 10 or so teenagers to Europe. Not surprisingly, we saw this opportunity as a chance to smoke and drink as much as possible (this was pre-DARE 1985, after all). Miss Perrilloux decided she had had enough towards the end of the trip and grounded us -- we were forbidden to go to the Eiffel Tower. Unbelievable. Fortunately, three of our mothers who came on the trip as chaperones decided this was completely unacceptable and quit as chaperones on the spot. They had paid their way in full and damn it, they were going to the Eiffel Tower - as were their children and their children's friends. And they pretty much informed Perrilloux that there was nothing she could do to stop us. Recognizing this to be true, she rolled over and we were able to go to the Eiffel Tower after all.

Which is exactly what's going to happen in Chesapeake. There will be meetings and protests and endless stories in our local paper and the school will have to relent. Because there's one thing you don't want to do -- and that's piss off a bunch of parents. Especially marching band parents. I know, I was a band geek. If the school doesn't change its mind but fast, the band parents will mobilize the forces, sell seven tons of oranges, grapefruits, and wrapping paper, and threaten to take all the kids to Florida without the school's involvement. And then they'll wind up on the talk show circuit. First Jay and then Dave. Then Ellen or Oprah will swoop in and pay for everyone to go and then someone will thaw Walt Disney and he'll welcome them onto their first ride personally.

Hey, did I just write my first screenplay?


Robert said...

There is a great hiking book by Colin Fletcher called "The Complete Walker" (an extremely well written bible on hiking and camping). This blog entry had me recalling his comments on safety:

But if you judge safety to be the paramount consideration in life you should never, under any circumstances, go on long hikes alone. Don't take short hikes alone either - or, for that matter, go anywhere alone. And avoid at all costs such foolhardy activities as driving, falling in love or inhaling air that is almost certainly riddled with deadly germs. Wear wool next to the skin. Insure every good and chattel you possess against every conceivable contingency the future might bring, even if the premiums half-cripple the present. Never cross an intersetion against a red light, even when you can see that all roads are clear for miles. And never, of course, explore the guts of an idea that seems as if it might threaten one of your more cherished beliefs. In your wisdom you will probably live to a ripe old age. But you may discover, just before you die, that you have been dead for a long, long time.

Robert said...

I guess there is a rational place somewhere between “don’t let kids do ANYTHING that might hurt them” and “screw it – you have to die from something.” I found this article to be an example of where school administrators might want to take a look at avoiding injury (though an outright ban would be ridiculous).