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,


Blogger Jessica Schneider said...

Hi Neil:

So the guilt trip worked I see. I'm sorry to hear of all this crap you have to deal with, for I often think to myself how I am glad I am not a hs student anymore. (or of any kind for that matter except for maybe a "student of life" but that sounds flaky).

One of my friends had a moron history teacher in high school, he was illiterate apparently because he would often get information wrong and rely only on what the book said, like if the question was is the earth a) flat b) round c) triangular and we all know the answer was B and if his teacher book had a misprint and said it was "c" he would say, "but the book says it's c" and mark it wrong.

So she did a little test and for papers one only needed to write 5 sentences in an opening paragraph so she wrote (and this is true)..."you are a stupid man. I can't believe an idiot like you is teaching me history, etc."

She got it back and got an A. She showed her parents and they freaked thinking she would get expelled for that. Big mistake. He should have been fired.

She got an A because she had 5 sentences in the paragraph. But good for that student standing up to that dumb teacher about the mile/kilo thing.

You find the same sorts of thinking in the "professional" world. Just look at some of these agent responses. "I didn't fall in love..." such canned responses parroting what their coworkers say.

10:14 AM  
Blogger Anthony said...

School these days is a prison, and people are forced to stay in it far longer than they should be. It's boring and tyrannical. Something should be developed so that teens can leave at a reasonable time and get into the workforce without being 'penalized' by having to live in poverty on bad wages. Forcing everyone sit in classrooms at that age is what causes all the stuff that led to 'zero tolerance' in the first place.

2:16 PM  
Blogger Neil said...

Jess: Wow. That's incredible. The world is triangular.

I saw that agent response, the whole "I didn't fall in love with it". I'm sure that's an oft-used phrase in his/her e-mails.

Anthony: The U.S. is definitely guilty of keeping its kids in school for too long. In some European countries, students graduate from high school in 10th grade, which is far more reasonable. Also, you've got a point; the older we get, the more we feel inclined to do as we please, and not worry about rules. In response, they buckle down.

2:31 PM  
Blogger jdogmoney said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

10:32 PM  
Blogger jdogmoney said...

Sorry, I forgot the comment part.

Anywho, the above is the whole picture of that letter.

And yes, you're quite right; it's ridiculous.

10:34 PM  
Blogger cosmoetica said...

My HS, in the early 80s, actually was a prision, with many barred windows, metal detectors to pass through, etc. Much of this started in the late 1950s, however, and has gotten worse. Of course, now the prison mentality is psychological as well as physical. In my day teachers were scared shitless to cross a tough student.

7:43 AM  
Blogger Wanderlust Scarlett said...

OH! The injustice is infuriating. Just so very frustrating and WRONG!

I've been gone a while too, it's good to be back.

I can't believe you got a ticket. I'd fight that, if I were you.

Scarlett & Viaggiatore

7:28 PM  
Blogger Neil said...

Wanderlust: I faxed off the law I broke, "Crossing Against The Light", and it's completely black-and-white, so I technically broke the law. No room to fight, unfortunately.

2:28 AM  

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