Neil Hester

All poems © Neil Hester unless otherwritten

Location: North Carolina, United States

Friday, February 08, 2008

A Short Visit

To all my readers (or, at the very least, who's left of them [is that even grammatically correct?]): I apologize for the severe neglect of my blog. As most of you know, I'm currently pushing through my high school career, a period of my life that offers abundant opportunities and little flexibility. Or I'm lazy. Anyhow...


Today, I had a free period (about 90 minutes). I decided to drive over to my old middle school and visit my lovely 7th grade English teacher. I walked through the front door, looking forward to navigating the thin halls, which had recently been divided into traffic-like lanes to keep the peace. About ten steps in, I was stopped by my vice principal, a somewhat grumpy man with whom I was on relatively good terms, and the region police officer. We briefly exchanged words. Two minutes later, I was out the door and on the road, quite perturbed.

About an hour later, back in my "proper" environment, I went to English class. We discussed the institution of "zero tolerance" rules, regulations originally designed to prevent school violence and, in extreme cases, massacres. Eventually, these restrictions multiplied to include the illegality of mohawks, trenchcoats, plain white shirts, tattoos, dyed hair, saggy pants, camouflage, tanktops, iPods, cell phones, and a few other various items and fashions. Skipping a single class made a student eligible for ISS (In-School Suspension). The school administration divided the school into color sections and began using color-coded bathroom passes, combined with hall monitors, to restrict movement. Official green passes were issued to the teachers for other purposes.

I recalled a couple specific incidents. Last year, a friend of mine was sent to the office for wearing a shirt that said "Dick's Last Resort". The name refers to a restaurant in San Antonio; the picture depicts a dog and a man. Very offensive.

Just a few months ago, I received a $110 ticket for "Crossing Against the Light". Two left-hand turn signals were active at the time; traffic was completely blocked up until the medium, and there was neither a right-hand turn signal nor a right-hand turn lane along my side. I began walking approximately five seconds before the "Walk" sign lit up. I arrived at the other side, without disrupting a soul, and ran into two police officers, who immediately wrote me up. Criminal.

Also, this little gem I found on the internet. Enjoy.

Back to English class- I read through a few of the articles available for reference (we had to write an article on "zero tolerance"). Here's an excerpt from "Protection for Whom? At What Price.", by Joan First, Harvard Education Letter 2000:

  • A little boy kisses a girl on the cheek. Although this is developmentally appropriate behavior for a five year old, he is suspended from school.
  • A Florida 1st grader who recently witnessed street violence panics when a uniformed "Officer Friendly" enters her classroom. The frightened girl tries to run away and a teacher restrains her. The child strikes the teacher. The girl is taken to a police station until her parents arrive.
  • A male high school student learns that a suicidal friend has a weapon. He persuades her to give it to him. When he hands it to school authorities, he is expelled.

The first one- seriously? The second- she was panicking, have a heart. The third- oh, the irony. Who are we protecting?

Restrictions have their place, and students still possess rights; however, necessity has evolved into extremity, and conditions worsen by the day. I feel sorry for my future children.


It's February. I hope you are all well-

Take Care,