February 7, 2013 by vlittle528
Sounds like quite the headline, doesn’t it? I have been following the story pretty closely, waiting for both sides to leak their way out. The part of the story that is agreed upon by both sides is pretty simple. A 7-year old kid that attends Mary Blair Elementary school was pretending to be a superhero and was saving the world by throwing a pretend grenade at a pretend box on the ground that held evil inside. He pretended that the box exploded, and the world was saved. If the story stopped here, simply with the statement “he was suspended after throwing a pretend grenade at a pretend box on the ground”, it may be fairly easy to protest and become angry that a child’s learning was being interrupted by pretending to be the good guy. But as there always is, there are two sides to this story.
Mary Blair Elementary, which is in the Thompson School District, has a policy of “absolutes”. The “absolutes” are a list of Mary Blair Elementary School’s rules that are posted on the school’s website. The absolutes are intended to make Mary Blair a safe and learning-friendly environment for all students that attend. These absolutes include no physical abuse or fighting, nor weapons of any sort. Both of these do include real and imaginary.
But to go even further in the “less-flashy” side of the story is that this second grader has been in trouble before. While the school can’t comment on it, the mother of the second-grader does admit that he has been in trouble at school before…for accessing other students’ reading accounts. The school’s absolute policy includes automatic suspension after a first suspension. Each student is allowed 2 non-severe occurrences and the third results in suspension. That first offense may have been serious enough to count as two in my opinion.
Everyone is shouting that something needs to be done, and why aren’t the schools recognizing the warning signs and paying more attention. Well, what ARE those warning signs? What SHOULD they be looking for? Seems to me the school has set and strict rules that they are following. They are also respecting the student’s right to privacy.
Maybe I am the only one, but I like that the school has absolutes and the children are learning consequences for their actions. They are also learning that your choices follow you. We all make mistakes, but we must also face the consequences of our actions. Kids are smart, they learn quickly how to avoid “serious” consequences by simply not doing the exact same thing time and time again. This school’s policy doesn’t allow that to happen.
I understand that kids play in all sorts of different ways, and each parent has to make their own decisions regarding what they allow their children to watch on television, if they let their kids play pretend guns etc. My husband and I are constantly disagreeing over what level of “pretend shooting” we feel comfortable with. I am pretty much comfortable with none. My husband fondly remembers the days of playing cops and robbers as a kid. My son comes home and tells me that he and his friends played superhero on the playground all the time. I do not believe that his school has the same policy, but if they do and he gets in trouble than he will have to face those consequences. And I won’t be teaching him how to try and get out of them. (Though I will be finding out if he is allowed to play with pretend grenades).
I certainly don’t know all the answers. But I do know that we are all asking the schools to do better, to protect our children more, to keep everyone safe. I think that is what Mary Blair Elementary is trying to do.