Spork Boy Free To Go Back to Dumb School!

Hi Readers! Remember the boy who was suspended for 45 days for bringing his Cub Scout fork/knife/spoon to school to eat his lunch with? Of course you do. Please. We were talking about it yesterday. And the day before. Anyway, here is some great, STRANGE news: After mere worldwide media exposure, including a front page story in the New York Times,  the school has reversed its decision and decided NOT to send the 6-year-old to reform school. It’s almost as if they have come to believe that just because a kid brings what he considers a beloved new eating utensil to school, he is not necessarily a violent felon with murder or at least student-eye-gouging  in his very near future.

Here’s  music to any Free-Ranger’s ears, from the story at KATU.com:

The need for common sense to prevail over the letter of the law was a recurring theme among the boy’s supporters and school safety experts.

“When that common sense is missing, it sends a message of inconsistency to students, which actually creates a less safe environment,” said Kenneth S. Trump, president of National School Safety and Security Services, a consulting firm. “People have to understand that assessing on a case-by-case basis doesn’t automatically equate to being soft or unsafe.”

Hear that? A bona fide SAFETY EXPERT is recommending that we use our brains and maturity and common sense rather than rigid REGULATIONS to decide what makes sense in terms of school safety.

Wow. A return to making actual, grown-up judgments rather than relying on brainless bureuacracy when it comes to how to run our society? This could be the start of something big.

Zacahary, we raise a fork/knife/spoon in your honor. Your mom’s too. Now go forth and eat lunch. — Lenore

30 Responses

  1. Yay for Zachary! It’s so nice to see that a little international shaming can actually convince a school system to do something rational once in a while.

    This morning, I asked my ten-year-old daughter if she wanted me to put a plastic butter knife in her lunchbox, as the pear I was giving her had a small blemish that she might want to cut off. No, she said, if the cafeteria attendants see you with even a plastic butter knife, they freak out and send you to the office.

    I imagine she’ll bite off the blemished part and spit it out instead. I’m sure the people who make these rules would like nothing better than to require us to send our kids to school without teeth, too.

  2. I am really happy about this outcome. But I still question why there is a no knife policy in the first place. I have carried a pocket knife most of my life. And I managed not kill anyone.

  3. I’ve expressed similar thoughts for years as the safety expert states that respect for authority and rules will often be questioned by rational people.
    This often happens WHEN laws are either overly tough, too broadly written, designed to appeal to people’s emotions based on some unlikely fear or don’t make logical sense.
    The old phrase was Question Authority, but its also good to Question Anarchists. (That includes anyone pushing any far fetched claim such as Stranger Danger or poisoned Halloween candy.)

  4. “The seven-member Christina School Board voted unanimously Tuesday to reduce the punishment for kindergartners and first-graders who take weapons to school or commit violent offenses to a suspension ranging from three to five days.”

    It’s still a blanket policy. I’m not sure they’ve got it right.

    And he didn’t bring a weapon to school. He brought a utensil.

  5. Baby steps, Heather. Baby steps.

  6. Heather, apparently the difference between a utensil (or any tool) and a weapon is the imagination & discretion of the bureaucrat in charge. sigh.

  7. Yeah, why is he still being put in the same category as those who commit violent offenses? Actual violence should be a whole separate set of punishments, whether or not a weapon was involved. As far as bringing a forbidden item to school innocently, that should not even be 3 days suspension for first-time offenders. It should be confiscation of the item and a warning, perhaps a phone call to the parents. PERIOD! If the school board does not understand this yet, I still do not see any hope for them.

  8. Joe, you’re using your head again. That’s a very bad, very dangerous thing. Are you sure you’re not a subversive?

  9. “It’s almost as if they have come to believe that just because a kid brings what he considers a beloved new eating utensil to school, he is not necessarily a violent felon with murder or at least student-eye-gouging  in his very near future.”

    Well, almost indeed. More like they realized they’d been made fools of on the national stage and realized backpeddling was the best way to avoid ridicule, and other nebulous reprocussions (if that kid had actually ended up in the recomended alternative school, and been hurt by a violent student, a lawsuit would have been quick to follow, and warrented).

    Glad to hear things worked out for Zach, but I seriously doubt the outcome would have been so happy without all the exposure. This isn’t common sense, it’s just embarrassment.

  10. “Zachary, we raise a fork/knife/spoon in your honor. Your mom’s too. Now go forth and eat lunch.”

    and a bottle opener, too.

  11. Wow…sanity prevailed. Good to hear GOOD news for a change!

  12. “I have carried a pocket knife most of my life. And I managed not kill anyone.”

    Well, that’s just pure dumb luck is all that is. The knife could have jumped out and stabbed someone AT ANY TIME.

    Instead of promoting this weapon pathology, Joe, you should be giving thanks you lucked out.

  13. I wish people wouldn’t keep referring to it as a spork or a fork/spoon/knife. It is a pocket knife, even if it includes a spoon and fork. No, that doesn’t mean I think he should be punished for bringing it to school. I do think we still need to use common sense.

    When I attended at our court house, they took away the fork from my lunch. So I suppose we should be thankful that schools allow any eating utensils at all. Maybe we need to go to international models where flatbreads are used to scoop up soups and stews.

    A Sikh who tried to get through the same court house security with a kirpan raised a big media stink and claimed racism. Sorry guy, but if my fork is not allow (white female), then neither is your knife!

  14. KarenW: we can’t have kids actually getting into trouble for causing harm… that would bypass my entire “bad objects / innocent angels” theory of child development. 😦 When one of the jocks smacks some kid in the face with a book and breaks his nose, it would be a shame to punish the kid instead of doing the logical thing and banning books at school.

    -Randy (who was bullied mercilessly because he liked to read instead of bouncing a ball)

  15. I think you people don’t realize the dangerous precedent this case is setting. If we give this kid a pass simply because he didn’t intend to butcher the whole school with his cutlery it will open the door to treating kids differently based upon such arbitrary things as their past history and accomplishments!

    The day we start treating cub-scouts differently from juvenile delinquents with a history of violent aggression is the day we see our beautiful public school system collapse and we lose all of the glorious equality we have fought so hard for. Next you’ll be saying we should award grades based upon achievement! I smell FASCISM!

  16. And some of you have to be thinking it: had there not been such a loud public outcry against their original inane decision, that boy would still be facing reform school.

    This is a kids whose parents were highly, highly involved in the school, and the board was *still* willing to do that to him, until they were called out on it in the national media.

    Were it me, my kid would be gone from that school. Why subject him to the authority of people who have already demonstrated the common sense of a meadow vole if you don’t have to? His parents fought hard to keep him there, and big kudos to them for doing it, but that would not have been my reaction. I’d still have made a loud public stink, but I would not send my children back there.

  17. My worry is for the other kids who aren’t cute enough to make the cover of the NY Times. I suspect this same story has played out with a different ending. It shouldn’t take a media storm to get some common sense.

  18. Woohoo! Common sense finally wins something! ^^

  19. If this had been a child of race, would this same decision have been reversed?

    I am happy for Zach, but still hesitate to trust the school systems. Period.

    Bet you the adults have who made all these decisions were NOT free-range growing up.

  20. I’ve posted this before, but it seems Joe could use some backing up here. I carried a pocket knife all of high-school, and had the gall to pull it out and use it in class in front of teachers. None ever said a word, though I did have a teacher ask to borrow it once. In primary school I went to one of the lower school classes and asked a teacher if I could borrow a box-cutter-style knife as I figured they were most likely to have one, with all the cutting-out activities little kids (used to?) do. No problem, and off i went back to my class to use right in front of the teacher, absolutely no hassle at all.

  21. As per the website Zachary’s mom set up, I tried to email the superintendent of the district but it got bounced back. Guess her email box was a teensy weensy bit full. Guess what else? The superintendent, Marcia Lyles, is a lifelong NYC educator who just moved down to Delaware this school year after serving as the Deputy Sup’t or some other top post at the NYC DOE.

  22. I just feel for the poor kid who will henceforth be known as “Sporkboy.” : )

  23. I find it hard to believe that the public, the same public who responded to Zachary, would ignore the same story with a child of another race. That sounds asinine to me. When Lenore posted the story I was outraged long before I knew the race of the child. In fact, it never occurred to me wonder what race he was. I’m guessing that was true with most of the readers.

  24. I think that if this wasn’t a cub scout in a middle class school the press wouldn’t have picked it up like they did. If they did it would be slanted differently.

  25. “If this had been a child of race, would this same decision have been reversed? ”

    I think he does have a race.

    “I think that if this wasn’t a cub scout in a middle class school the press wouldn’t have picked it up like they did. If they did it would be slanted differently.”

    If it had been a situation significantly different from a cub scout in a middle class school it would have been less glaringly obvious that this wasn’t a situation where the kid needed to go to reform school for bringing along his pocket eating-kit-including-a-knife. It could still well have been a ridiculous situation, but it’s the fact that it’s so obvious that there’s neither a problem with the child or a problem with the school such that they have to be over-cautious, that made it so easy to create a national furor over it.

  26. Personally, I’d be looking for a new school for this child. As bright and eager as he seems, a Montessouri program may help him continue his exuberance where learning and inquiry are concerned.

    It seems the school he now attends wants to squash all actual interest and individuality out of their students.

  27. I am so very happy for The Spork Boy but do we REALLY need safety experts to tell us that we should use common sense? And we wonder why so many teens today have all this anger inside them! Because they aren’t getting good examples of common sense!

  28. I finally took another look at this article, and realized that’s my former elementary school (I went to Downes K-3). I guess the Christina School District still has it’s issues…

    (Crikey, I took a lot work stuff than a Spork to my first grade class at Downes…)

  29. I would like to correct a misconception: A spork is a spoon with a straight edge and tongs. A combination “knife/spoon/fork” suggests something that is primarily an eating utensil. That is not what the child brought to school. He brought the Swiss Army Knife that also has a spoon and fork. I don’t think his intentions were anything other than as stated, but a Swiss Army knife is a primarily pocket knife. Now, I only have a six year old in training, but I feel this is an aggressive age for a pocket knife. It may be appropriate if he has been taught a little knife safety (as I’m sure is the case due to the Beavers), but I also know that I moderately hurt a kid’s hand with such a knife when I was a tween due to horsing around. A spork at school I could care less about, a pocket knife is inappropriate in primary school.

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