Here’s when you know that political correctness running amok hurts real people: when tiny children engaging in imaginary play are punished for pretending to be heroes. Although it seems impossible, it’s exactly what happened to a seven year old second grade youngster in Loveland Colorado.
LOVELAND, Colo. — A 2nd grader has been suspended from school in Loveland for a make believe game he was playing.
The 7-year-old says he was trying to save the world. But school administrators say he broke a key rule during his pretend play.
“I was trying to save people and I just can’t believe I got dispended,” says Alex Evans, who doesn’t understand his suspension any better than he can pronounce it.
“It’s called ‘rescue the world,’” he says.
He was playing a game during recess at Loveland’s Mary Blair Elementary School and threw an imaginary grenade into a box with pretend evil forces inside.
“I pretended the box, there’s something shaking in it, and I go ‘pshhh.’”
The boy didn’t throw anything real or make any threats against anyone. He explains he was pretending to be the hero. “So nothing can get out and destroy the world.”
Instead of leaving him to his imaginary play and addressing real concerns like student achievement, this school district is punishing a child for wanting to protect others! He’s possibly a firefighter, policeman or (God forbid) a soldier in the making. Why the knee jerk reaction to harmless child’s play?
But his imaginary play broke the school’s real rules. The school lists “absolutes” designed to keep a safe environment. The list includes absolutely no fighting, real or imaginary; no weapons, real or imaginary.
So what are these “absolutes”? What exactly is permitted? According to Mary Blair’s Absolutes Policy (which is a stunning one half page in length and almost impossible for any human child not to violate) each child is permitted two violations of the absolutes before a suspension is levied. But this child was suspended on his first variance.
The policy states: “The ABSOLUTES for Mary Blair Elementary are,
- No Physical Abuse or Fights – real or “play fighting”
- No weapons (real or play), illegal drugs (including tobacco) or alcohol
- No serious disrespect toward people or property (includes, but is not limited: profanity, racial slurs, deliberately refusing to follow a staff directive, graffiti, etc.)”
Essentially, this amounts to a zero tolerance policy that in theory has merit. Fighting, profanity, slurs, open rebellion, these things cannot be tolerated in a school environment without inviting chaos. But to ban imaginative play that mimics the reality of our world: we need heroes. Heroes that run towards a burning building. Men and women that cut children out of cars, disarm bombs and travel the world in defense of the Constitution. These folks don’t drop out of the sky every 12 days, toss on a uniform and get to work: they are little boys and girls that feel an innate sense of duty to protect others. To stamp out that desire is to rid ourselves of a highly needed human commodity.
Zero tolerance policies often run afoul of the unavoidable nature of children, in that they are small impulsive humans! Schools are meant to teach kids about the world in a structured system, while nurturing their talents and abilities for their betterment. This policy does none of that. Instead, it makes children into criminals to be punished for doing what is essential childish behavior: imaginative play.
Alex’s mom, Mrs. Evans is keeping him home until the matter can be cleared up properly, which is the best course of action when presented with nonsense on this scale.