October 24, 2006

Child Softener

Justin Katz

Two items that I came across this evening seem intrinsically, if subtly, related — even beyond the fact that they both deal with school children. The first is an email that Jonah Goldberg posted in the Corner:

My fourth grade daughter came home from school yesterday talking about how President Bush was about to sign a law that would allow the police to pull someone over, take them to jail and hold them indefinitely without being charged. I told her that I didnt think that was true and that I would look into it. I follow current events pretty well, but Ive missed the boat on this one. Can you point me to some articles on proposed changes to the writ of habeas corpus?

Of course, Anchor Rising readers will be aware that, as Goldberg follows up by mentioning, the daughter's teacher was almost certainly discussing the Military Commissions Act — which she clearly did her students the disfavor of distorting.

The second item is a column by Ed Achorn discussing further attempts to indirectly decalcify our already too sedentary children:

THERE'S SOMETHING profoundly sick about a society that aggressively markets sex and violence to children through addictive electronics, but won't let them play tag.

Maybe we should think about that.

Last week, in Attleboro, parents learned that Willett Elementary School Principal Gaylene Heppe's new playground rules included a ban on the classic children's game of tag, and other unsupervised "chasing" games such as touch football. The reason? She was worried about the risk of injury to children, and the potential liability to the school.

In games of tag, kids can get rough and slam into each other. One teacher from another community, speaking on a radio show last week, said the game of tag also raises concerns about "inappropriate touching" by 7- and 8-year-olds, leading to fears of sexual-harassment lawsuits!

Recess is "a time when accidents can happen," said Ms. Heppe.

Attleboro parents (with the help of national attention) responded so vehemently that the school has backed off some (for the time being). Still, I'd say it's past time for preemptive action against and concerted efforts to displace the deceivers and ninnies who wish to turn our children into malleable mush.

Comments, although monitored, are not necessarily representative of the views Anchor Rising's contributors or approved by them. We reserve the right to delete or modify comments for any reason.

Bush can take a Canadian citizen hostage
at JFK airport,then send him to Syria for 10 months of torture.Bush may send Rod Driver next.


Why do we need the MCA ?

Posted by: jay at October 25, 2006 12:29 AM

Because some liberal puke judge decided that the terrorists being held at GITMO needed to be able to have all the rights normally reserved for citizens.

Posted by: Greg at October 25, 2006 7:00 AM

The tag ban is overblown. At that particular school, the kids have recess on pavement only, and kids were getting hurt and parents were complaining. So they stopped games like tag where kids may fall on pavement. If they didn't listen to the complaining parents, and more kids got hurt, than everyone would be complaining that they aren't protecting the kids, and they'd get sued. All the blame is going on the school, and it probably shouldn't be.

There are more important school issues that deserve "pre-emptive action" - a "tag ban" gets everyone mobilized, but not issues such as serving the kids soda and junk food, or lack of civics classes or logic classes. Or lack of real gym classes to keep these kids excerised in a organized manner. We're teaching our kids rote memorization which isn't going to help them much in the real world...

Posted by: Anonymous at October 25, 2006 8:09 AM

Greg.
Your right.We never imprison inocent people...like SCOTT HORNOFF

Posted by: jay at October 25, 2006 11:15 AM

So we should give terrorists rights to a fair trial under American legal standards because sometimes actual citizens are improperly convicted by a jury of their peers?

Posted by: Greg at October 25, 2006 11:18 AM

Greg
Are you talking about suspected-terrorist ?

Posted by: jay at October 25, 2006 12:00 PM

If they were captured on the battlefield they aren't 'suspects' of anything. They, as defined by the Geneva Convention, are 'enemy combatants' and not legally due the privledge of the word 'suspect'.

Posted by: Greg at October 25, 2006 12:05 PM

Greg
Yes all people have the right to a fair trial.

Posted by: jay at October 25, 2006 2:31 PM

Nope. All CITIZENS have a right to a fair trial. And now it's official.

Posted by: Greg at October 25, 2006 2:56 PM

Jay,

So, just to be consistent, you're outraged at all the German and Italian Prisoners of War we didn't try?

You must not really think, much.

Posted by: Jay at October 26, 2006 7:51 AM

Enemy combatants captured out of uniform have the right to be summarily executed under the Geneva Convention.

The Canadian Citizen "taken hostage" was actually denied entry to the US, and deported to his place of origin - after Canada refused to take him back. Do you seriously propose we allow him into the country? Invade Canada and force them to take him back?

Posted by: MarkD at October 26, 2006 8:03 AM

Banning tag is over the top. But gym class and recess do seems like unecessary classes when our kids can't add or multiply. That being said, and anticipating comments that we need to teach kids to exercise, kids do have after school, weekends, every federal holiday, every teacher holiday, all summer, all spring break, etc. to run around and learn all those things parents are complaining the schools aren't teaching them, as if parents have no responsibility in what their children learn or do. Why do I think most of the parents complaing have also bought their kids a playstation and don't realize that kids could be running around and learning about life simply by going out the front door of their homes.

Posted by: permagrin at October 26, 2006 8:23 AM

Jay,

Do you see what the others are getting at? It is wonderful that you are ethically pure in such an untouchable fashion (and I'm sure that you are wonderfully fashionable among all of your like-minded friends) but you aren't facing the nasty realities of the world. And, in order to maintain your detached superiority, you are telling half-truths and distorting the nature of the very real and difficult issues we face.

The new law does nothing to "revoke" habeas corpus for American citizens. The teacher in question gave a young child a smear and a lie about her government. This is simply wrong as it weakens society. It builds among its citizens an unwillingness to aggressively defend the principles of that society despite their demonstrated superiority to the principles that the terrorists seek to impose by violence.

Posted by: Wildmonk at October 26, 2006 8:24 AM

Rights are legal precedents that people have died and are willing to die for in order to secure. For enemy combatants, there are precious few rights. Soldiers have died in order to secure some rights and they were granted those under the Geneva convention. Sometimes we use the term "human rights" to discuss ideas about giving rights to groups of people or in certain areas of our lives that people have not yet been willing to die for. At this stage in our world reality, I believe that we are too busy dying to save our rights for religious and cultural freedoms to be to worried about "human rights." You do not worry about a cold when you are facing cancer. Muslim etremists are at war with the rest of the world, attempting to take away some precious rights. They are willing to die to accomplish their goals. We must also be willing to sacrifice, or they will prevail. Granting "human rights" such as the right to a trial by jury to peoples who have not secured that right through the ultimate sacrifice will not happen until the Muslim menace is beaten. Trey

Posted by: Trey at October 26, 2006 8:35 AM

It is not just the teachers...

My wife who is a teacher for a middle grade school said one of his student said to her that Bush had the IQ of 67.

Plus it was the Supreme Court that made laws. My wife, teaching language arts with her Political Science degree had a field day with that one.

Posted by: James Stephenson at October 26, 2006 8:47 AM

Speaking of Language Arts, if my wife saw this sentence:

"My wife who is a teacher for a middle grade school said one of his student said to her that Bush had the IQ of 67." She would have a field day. It should read:
"My wife, who is a teacher for a middle grade school, said one of his student said to her that Bush had the IQ of 67."

Now that is much better.

Posted by: James Stephenson at October 26, 2006 8:49 AM

"My wife who is a teacher for a middle grade school said one of his student said to her that Bush had the IQ of 67." She would have a field day. It should read:
"My wife, who is a teacher for a middle grade school, said one of his student said to her that Bush had the IQ of 67."

James, you didn't pay attention to details:

"My wife, who is a teacher for a middle grade school, said one of HER students said to her that Bush had AN IQ of 67."

Posted by: red at October 26, 2006 9:01 AM

I want to comment on the "Canadian citizen hostage" (Maher Arar), posts since virtually everything posted here on this matter is wrong.

Jay wrote at 12:29am

Bush can take a Canadian citizen hostage

Renditions started under Bill Clinton. This was shameful behavior on the part of the US, but blaming George Bush for it is risible.

Mark D responds at 8:03,

Enemy combatants captured out of uniform have the right to be summarily executed under the Geneva Convention.

Arar -- the man of whom you speak -- wasn't an enemy combatant, this is a grotesque fabrication.

He wasn't seeking entry to the US; he was enroute to Montreal, Canada from Switzerland. He had to change flights in the US. (Depending on the layout of the airport, if memory serves correctly, he may not have even had to clear customs).

The Canadian Citizen "taken hostage" was actually denied entry to the US, and deported to his place of origin - after Canada refused to take him back. Do you seriously propose we allow him into the country? Invade Canada and force them to take him back?

'Denied entry to the US' is a red herring; had the US done nothing he would not have sought to enter the US and would have been back in Montreal.

Canada did not 'refuse to take him back'; Canada refused to charge and imprison him as there were no grounds for doing so, nor was the US able to supply any. With that, the US deported him to Syria where he could be imprisoned and tortured. Days later, the US informed Canada that this had happened.

The danger with this sort of behavior is that sooner or later, foreign governments -- even close allies -- are going to start treating US citizens in the same way.

It is interesting to speculate: what if a US citizen in transit to the US had been taken off a plane while it stopped in Canada to refuel; what if the US had refused to imprison its citizen, what if Canada had then deported him to Syria and informed the US days later. I suspect there'd be a lot of anger in the US.

As I said above, I don't blame George W. Bush for this incident -- renditions started under Bill Clinton. I do think, based upon what subsequent public inquiries have shown, that it was a shameful incident that unfortunately puts the US in a very bad light.

I don't think ICE, TSA and associated TLA bureaucracies are very competent.

To preempt criticism: I support detention of enemy combatants -- lawful or otherwise -- and I think that the US is materially in compliance with all relevant Geneva conventions (and human rights principles) at Gitmo.

-Holmwood

Posted by: Holmwood at October 26, 2006 9:16 AM

it's past time for preemptive action

sigh.

Guess I'm going to have to get out of my pajamas, put away my keyboard and actually do something real.

Posted by: Paul A'Barge at October 26, 2006 9:37 AM

I'm glad to hear that we're sending terrorists to our good friends the Syrians, who no doubt are on the CIA payroll to supply the torturing that we here in the US can't/won't do.

What crap.

Posted by: Darren at October 26, 2006 9:47 AM


Holmwood, don't start confusing me with the facts! I already have my opinion.

As to "anonymous" who wrote:
We're teaching our kids rote memorization which isn't going to help them much in the real world.

No, we really, really aren't, at least not in traditional schools. While rote memorization is a terrible method of instruction, it's much better than some kids are getting. The educational establishment in the United States is taken by instructional fad after fad. These are rarely supported by rigorous scientific ed pscyh research. "Rote learning" has been out of style for 30 years and it's not making a comeback.

In Japan, where I lived and taught, instruction is absolutely terrible (It's practically all rote memorization.) The schools are grim, concrete buildings that are only partially heated in the winter and almost never air-conditioned. And yes, there are almost always 40 students to a class, even in elementary school.

But students are learning the math and science they need. And they have memorized the almost 2000 basic Chinese (kanji) characters before 7th grade and can read a Japanese newspaper. (This is a HUGE accomplishment) And ALL students who are mentally capable do it. The reason? Even though instruction sucks, teachers really care and put a lot of emotional energy into the children. That's true in a lot of places in the US, but the real reason is the culture of expectation. You just HAVE to do it. Bad instruction? Terrible facilities? 40 students to a class? Who cares? Failure is not an option for most of these kids because their families and culture have drilled the value of education into their heads. That's the solution to ALL of our educational ills.

Kids could use a lot more fact-memorizing and a lot more critical thinking in schools. But the real answer is the culture of learning. We don't have it, and we're not doing anything to get it.

Posted by: Dan at October 26, 2006 9:52 AM

Tag, schmag! We played "Kill the Man". If you had the ball, everyone else chased you and you might be tackled by a pack of 10 or 20 kids at a time in their attempt to get it away from you. When you saw the pack bearing down on you, you could hold onto the ball if you wanted, or if you lost heart, you could toss it away at the last second to avoid the crunch.

Posted by: kcom at October 26, 2006 9:54 AM

TO: Justin Katz, et al
RE: Time to Invest in Ritalin

"...Willett Elementary School Principal Gaylene Heppe's new playground rules included a ban on the classic children's game of tag, and other unsupervised "chasing" games such as touch football. The reason? She was worried about the risk of injury to children, and the potential liability to the school." -- Article cited by Justin Katz

The 'unintended consequence' of this plan, should it be implemented, will be more young boys put on ritalin because they don't have the opportunity to run off all that energy.

Regards,

Chuck(le)
P.S. Someone should look into what Mz Heppe's stock portfolio contains.

Posted by: Chuck Pelto at October 26, 2006 10:08 AM

The school issue is very real. Many of us say it is over the top, but the legal system (aka sue happy lawyers looking for a buck) can easily jump on this. The school is looking out for its interests. This is all at the expense of turning our schools colder toward students. Even one student getting hurt can be grounds for a lawyer just looking for a reason to go after a school for a buck, and even if they lose, the school still spends its tax/funding dollars to defend against it. Cannot blame them for their motivation.
Law suits may help one family, but harm many more with inflated costs needed to pay for the insurance, or court fees for the attacked organization. Here is another example.
Being the Devil's advocate, when that injury happens, and a family sues and costs the school some astronomical settlement, the school needs more funding, so asks for a raise in property tax. . . now who is gonna be complaining. The same ones that said this is to reactive.

Posted by: Eric Givler at October 26, 2006 10:13 AM

Ah yes, class sizes!

My grammar school class at St. John's in Peabody, MA, from the early 50s to 1963, was 65 (reduced by one death to 64) boys. One nun in black was all that was needed to get all but one of them into high school (they let him 'graduate' so he could be drafted.)

Posted by: John H. Costello at October 26, 2006 10:38 AM

I love the rancor posted in theese comments!
Every been around POW just taken and kn ow what oftenhappens to them?

As a former teacher, perhaps the child did not make clear what the teacher was saying or tryhing to say: that has happened once or twice in the past.
And as a teacher I wouldn't touch such issues to begin with! Patents and PTA are all over the place, ready to p[ounce

Posted by: fred lapides at October 26, 2006 10:40 AM

Egad! I just clicked a link at Instapundit that brought me here -- and I InstaDeparted this site. What kind of horrid FONT are you using here? I can hardly read it! Bye bye.

Posted by: Heather at October 26, 2006 10:48 AM

I agree with Jay, twice:
1) there is no more important issue facing us than to treat foreigners who don't wear uniforms, hide weapons in schools, shoot at troops from hospitals and place of worship and kill innocents, with kid gloves lest someone be offended.
2) the best way to do this is to give misleading info about domestic politics to 9 year old children.
So there, nay-sayers.

Posted by: Jim,MtnViewCA,USA at October 26, 2006 10:53 AM

The tag ban would have sounded ridiculous to me too, if my son hadn't broken his wrist in a school playground accident two years ago. His lawyer asked the school to reimburse me for his medical expenses ($9 K). He probably wouldn't have had a case but for the fact that the part of the playground he was playing on was out of the line of sight of the teachers, and thus the kids there were unsupervised. He got a check for $9 K, less his lawyer's cut. Any future medical expenses are my responsibility.

So now I can see it from the school's perspective: tag is potentially dangerous, and if the school can't supervise this activity adequately, it leaves the school open to liability. If parents feel strongly about letting their kids have the tag experience, they can always host a party and let the kids do it there.

Posted by: pat buchanatar at October 26, 2006 11:53 AM

Thanks to Chuck for correcting Permagrin's claim that we don't need recess or gym for our kids. We don't only if all our kids are female. Boys need a break from sitting still and being quiet and have to release pent up energy.

Chuck's assertion that the boys would be drugged with Ritalin is one option, but in the majority of cases, nothing is done. There's a reason most high school dropouts are male, and even among HS graduates, fewer boys are going on to college. The current gender percentages in college are 47% male and 53% female, and it's getting worse.

Fred Lapides made a huge point that it's possible (probable?) that the daughter misunderstood what the teacher said. You can't fully absolve the teacher, since it's a complex, contentious topic filled with political posturing, which argues for not mentioning it class except to kids old enough to grasp the controversy.

Heather, bye to you too. I got here through instapundit, and I had no problem with the font. You may need your eyes checked. I'd never judge a site by it's font - someone might think I'm a shallow airhead!

Justin, nice site. There's no one place to find blogs from my home state (although I grew up In Fall River), so I'm happy to add this to my favorites.

Posted by: Larry at October 26, 2006 12:07 PM

"It is interesting to speculate: what if a US citizen in transit to the US had been taken off a plane while it stopped in Canada to refuel; what if the US had refused to imprison its citizen, what if Canada had then deported him to Syria and informed the US days later. I suspect there'd be a lot of anger in the US."

Syria doesn't have a "do not let this infidel in our country or we will torture him" watchlist with American names yet?

Maybe it's just an unwritten list. Actually I don't remember anything about this apparently Canadian citizen being tortured in Syria, just that he was sent to his native country after Canada refused to accept him (because they didn't want to imprison him, why not just lie and tell the US you will certainly throw him in jail when he gets to Canada and then not do it). But yea, Syria is pretty bad.

"The danger with this sort of behavior is that sooner or later, foreign governments -- even close allies -- are going to start treating US citizens in the same way."

So what did we do that got Daniel Pearl killed?
:(

"I don't think ICE, TSA and associated TLA bureaucracies are very competent."

Indeed, however if this guy was on a "no fly" watch list or something, and an innocent man was horrifically tortured due to a bad policy of rendition, then this is an abberation as opposed to a pattern of abuse. Which is the only positive spin to put on a situation like this. Damn facts getting in the way of my preconcieved notions.

Posted by: jows at October 26, 2006 12:07 PM

It's a shame that sometimes kids get hurt when playing games like tag. But you know what? That's part of life. Boys get hurt doing things that boys like to do. The porblem is not tag but parents feeling like they have a right to sue a school because their kid fell down and got hurt. That's what health insurance is for.

if a school wants to stop kids from playing traditional, reasonable kid games for fear of liability, the proper response is to pass laws that limit the school's liability. If your kid falls and gets hurt playing football, it's not the school's fault. People in this country need to get over the idea that whenever something goes wrong there has to be someone else to blame who should pay for it.

Posted by: KeithK at October 26, 2006 12:37 PM

No one ever imagined that maybe the fourth grader came home and messed up the explanation of what she learned in school?

It's always a liberal teacher undermining our youth. Maybe it's a bad teacher who wasn't simple enough on the point for the fourth grade level. Maybe the kid is dumb and didn't learn it correctly. Both of those things happen ALL THE TIME with respect to non-political things in the classroom. But everyone just looks for evidence for liberal bias (or conservative bias, for that matter). Has anyone gone and asked the teacher?

Posted by: Daniel at October 26, 2006 12:42 PM

Adult supervision at recess. Is that such a complicated concept?
That said, I just hope the anti-tag folks aren't the same people complaining that kids don't get enough physical activity and are getting fatter than ever.
BTW, Kcom, I played that game back in elementary school in the early 70s, and wound up at the bottom of a few piles. It ended (without lawyers, mercifully - just a concussion and a few stitches) after one of my classmates took a header into a tree.

Posted by: Rhody at October 27, 2006 11:23 AM