The Flub-A-Dub Award

by Bruce Weik

The months just fly by. Just last month I was thinking about how long it has been since the District 205 School Board had appeared in either of my columns. I think the last mention they got was when they decided to rotate the President of the Board position on a yearly basis, by seniority. I thought that was kind of silly, but it seems to have worked. Now they have blasted their way back into the news. They seem to have an overwhelming desire to be parents to all our children. While seemingly there must have been some type of misunderstanding at the last board meeting, it has been clear for quite some time that the Board and administration are overly enthusiastic about monitoring our children's behavior outside of the school environment.

Trying to regulate and control the behavior of our children. It's a thankless job, but someone has to do it. Some parents are not so good at it. In fact, some parents can't control their own behavior, much less their children's. In steps the school system. Teaching reading, writing, arithmetic, and how to take standardized tests are not enough. They want to teach them a lesson. A life lesson. One area they have specialized in is drinking and using drugs. Since most students are under 21, this becomes a relevant and popular topic. And illicit drug use is always illegal, unless, of course, you happen to have a lot of money. So these are good areas for school boards to zero in on. Zero is the operative word. Zero tolerance. You use, you lose. Seemingly a good motive, but bad assumptions are made along this righteous path. Being a substance abuse counselor, one of the first questions we ask clients is: When did you first use alcohol? The answer 95% of the time: At age 16.

The board's first assumption is that student athletes are somehow more influential and more sought after as role models than other groups of students. This may have been true in 1950, but is no longer the case. Professional athletes have taken care of that. You couldn't find a bigger group of misfits and yo-yo's. The fact that student athletes are put under a microscope and expected to act mature well beyond their years is an administrative blunder. None of us would be able to live up to these types of expectations. They are unrealistic and not helpful to the students. They promote lying. Just this year that very thing happened. Yes, I drank a beer at a party. Sorry, you're out X number of games. No, I didn't drink. (A polygraph machine would register tilt.) Good, you can play. This is the same mentality the legal system uses. Instead of providing help and reasons not to use, we punish.

The issue of students drinking and experimenting with drugs is highly emotional and controversial. It is a bad assumption to believe that they won't use. To say that a student should under no set of circumstances drink any alcohol is to set them up for failure. We know they do from surveys. We know they do from our own life experiences. To say that I as a parent cannot or should not allow my 16-year-old son or daughter to have some wine at Thanksgiving dinner is both wrong and presumptuous. Teaching children how to drink socially and appropriately is done in almost all European countries. Zero tolerance is the exception in the world, not the norm. There is no right or wrong way to accomplish this task. Hopeful, we each try to do our best. It always boils down to some people should not be parents.

We send our children to school to learn, not to be monitored by the administration for everything they do outside the school environment. That's our job and the legal system's job. I realize it's tempting to want to help the little kiddies with everything, but it's not a good idea. It is a flub to monitor students' behaviors outside of the school system. I wouldn't push it any further than you already have. In fact, I would undo some of what you have already done. It's wrong and carried out unfairly.

Uploaded to The Zephyr Online May 30, 2001

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