The Jefferson Iowa News®



I'm madder than Jim Bowie at a class reunion when I continue to hear about youngsters getting kicked out of school for possessing pocket knives! In the small rural town of Jefferson, Iowa, at least three students have been expelled for this recently! In none of these cases was there any issue of violent behavior, threats, or criminal activity. In fact, in the most recent incident, the police were called!

That's right - some kid brought his pocket knife to school, had it in his pocket, and a janitor saw the outline of it in his pants pocket and called the cops! The police arrived, and after an investigation, explained to school administrators that absolutely no laws had been broken!

What did our local school administrators do? Kicked the kid out of school for a year or so! They explained that their policy was "zero tolerance" regarding knives! Now, I don't know about you, but I grew up in a rural area and everyone used a pocket knife. Not to stab other students, mind you. By adopting a "zero tolerance" policy, it seems to me that school officials are simply looking for an easy way out - this way they don't have to explain themselves or address the issues on a case-by-case basis.

Back in the day, you call the kid's folks in, and explain the problem. Maybe he has to stay after school. Maybe if he is belligerent he gets three days off. This almost always solves the problem! You have to remember that regardless of how urban Jeffersonians consider themselves, knife-related incidents have NEVER been a problem in their schools!

Can you imagine little Opey Taylor being kicked out of school for a year?!? He always carried a pocket knife! Jefferson adopts policies like this because they are trying to emulate large metropolitan areas and view this as "cutting edge" social solutionism. Unfortunately, none of what applies in Compton, CA applies in Jefferson, Iowa!

By adopting "zero tolerance" you lose the advantage of treating each case individually, based on the surrounding circumstances. What you gain is the advantage of not having to think - and apply intelligence and common sense to the situation. There you have it - the Jefferson school board - preferring not to think!

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Orville K. Bass, American

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