Tuesday, June 19, 2007

No Touching Rule in Middle School

A middle school in Virginia has a no touching rule. How incredibly middle-school of them!

Seriously--no touching? No high-fives? No wedgies? No wet willies? What happened to middle school?

The scariest part (to the lawyer part of me) is that a teacher said "[y]ou have to have an absolute rule with students, and wiggle room and good judgment on behalf of the staff."

Why not simply make a good rule instead of a bad one? Why make rules that give the enforcers the power to pick and pile on some students while "exercising good judgment" with others?

I know that zero tolerance policies are on the rise, but be wary of them. No zero tolerance policy gets enforced to the letter, which leads to disparate and ultimately discriminatory enforcement.

Ours is a nation of laws, not of men. We should take enough time writing our rules that the rules themselves become the manifestation of good judgment instead.

I realize that no rule is perfect, and writing a rule that covers every bad touching but no good ones is certainly impossible to draft. Laws cannot replace good judgment; however, it does not follow that we should therefore draft laws to rely on judgment.

It's one thing to make a car that can both avoid and survive an accident; the accidents remain the exceptions. It is altogether different to design a car that runs into everything.

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