Our Stupid Schools

We have to reach a breaking point on this. It’s simply getting too insane. Every day brings us more stories of the people who run our public schools acting like total fucking idiots:

Two masked men wearing hoodies and wielding handguns burst into the Pine Eagle Charter School in this tiny rural community on Friday. Students were at home for an in-service day, so the gunmen headed into a meeting room full of teachers and opened fire.

Someone figured out in a few seconds that the bullets were not drawing blood because they were blanks and the exercise was a drill, designed to test Pine Eagle’s preparation for an assault by “active shooters” who were, in reality, members of the school staff. But those few seconds left everybody plenty scared.

The worst part of the story? Several of the teachers involved think this was a good idea. Seriously. They praise it for raising their awareness of what to do in the event of something that has a one in 30,000 chance of happening. Think about what they might have done with that time (and stomach lining). Practicing a fire drill or the heimlich maneuver or sexual abuse awareness would have been a far more productive use of their time.

I appreciate that some children in Sandy Hook were saved because their teachers had training and responded effectively and bravely. I would, however, submit, that having two assholes run into a room and pretend to shoot a bunch of folk is not anyone’s definition of effective training.

But we’re not done, friends.

Eagle Scout Cole Withrow was just a few weeks from graduating with honors from his North Carolina high school, but now the active church member is facing a felony weapons charge and a precarious future after accidentally leaving a shotgun in his pickup truck in the school parking lot.

Most members of the Johnston County community, just southeast of Raleigh believe the 18-year-old is paying far too big a price for an honest mistake. Withrow had been skeet shooting with friends a day before, and only noticed he had left his shotgun in his truck on Monday morning as he reached to grab his book bag, said family friend Kimberly Boykin. When he realized his mistake, rather than leave school grounds, he went to the front office to call his mother for help.

The school is falling back on their usual “the law is very clear” default position. The problem with that position is that prosecutors have discretion to determine when someone has knowingly and dangerously violated the law and when someone has accidentally violated it. I have harped on this many times: that we have abandoned any concept of mens rea in this country. No one cares any more if you have evil intentions. All that matters is that you have tripped over one of the many thousands of laws that surround us.

I’m not opposed to punishing the kid. Rules is rules (although my dad’s school had a shooting club). But felony charges? What is the damned point of ruining this kid’s life? So we can make an example of him? An example of what? The only example I’m seeing here is the example of a bunch of power-crazed idiots who can’t figure out what laws are supposed to accomplish.

We’re still not done:

Kiera Wilmot got good grades and had a perfect behavior record. She wasn’t the kind of kid you’d expect to find hauled away in handcuffs and expelled from school, but that’s exactly what happened after an attempt at a science project went horribly wrong.

On 7 a.m. on Monday, the 16 year-old mixed some common household chemicals in a small 8 oz water bottle on the grounds of Bartow High School in Bartow, Florida. The reaction caused a small explosion that caused the top to pop up and produced some smoke. No one was hurt and no damage was caused.

According to WTSP, Wilmot told police that she was merely conducting a science experiment. Though her teachers knew nothing of the specific project, her principal seems to agree.

Apparently, the kid was just playing around with some chemicals to see what would happen. Again — a complete lack of mens rea. But this doesn’t matter to the needle-dicked prosecutors and school officials in Bartow. She broke the law! Time to destroy her dreams of college.


The problem in this country isn’t people who go to church. And it isn’t Eagle Scouts. It’s assholes who abuse their discretion to charge little girls with felonies for making a mistake in a science experiment. It’s legislators who draft laws that allow such atrocities. It’s media who press legislators for such laws. It’s voters who elect legislators who promise laws under which little girls can be charged with felonies for making a mistake in a science experiment.

And it’s that we, all of us, are too cowardly to see that in our hunt for little monsters, we’ve created a monster capable of destroying us all. That we’re afraid to join together, as a torch-wielding mob, and burn the monster we created to death.

This has to stop. The hysteria over school violence, the zero tolerance policies, the expelling and felony-charging of kids over pranks, mistakes and stupidity. It all has to stop. And it will not stop until we unelect every politician who supports it, boot every school board member who promotes it and hound every prosecutor who says he has no choice. And that will not happen until we quit being spineless cowed individuals who quail at any potential danger and engage in the kind of worst-first anything-for-the-children thinking that enables this. I’ve been to meetings where these policies have been discussed and the hysterics have the floor. Any opposition is seen as the moral equivalent of throwing kids in front of a firing squad.

We can’t be cowed. We can’t back down. One by one, parent by parent, schoolboard by schoolboard, politician by politician, we have to beat some fucking common sense into the country.

Comments are closed.

  1. Mississippi Yankee

    If we can start with allowing Kiera Wilmot to expand her “science experiment” with Jimmah Cathah as her test subject.
    I lay most if not all of the blame at his feet when he created the Dept of Edumacashun.

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  2. hist_ed

    You know, there are protected students in education. Get yourself an IEP and you came blame anything on it. I wrote her e a little while ago about a hellion who lite another kid on fire in science. This was not an accident. He sprayed flammable liquid on this kid’s seat and then lit it as soon as he sat down. Couldn’t expel the asshole because he’s special ed. Ten day suspension and then back to class. But a non IEP kid accidentally explodes something, hurting no one and she’s on the chopping block.

    So a few years ago I had a crappy student who was an amazingly gifted artist. He drew a picture of me as a video game cover-big muscles, holding a handgun. Great picture done in pencil.. I put it up on my wall and the damn admin told me I had to take it down because there was a gun in picture. Mind you, I teach US history. That includes the world wars, the civil war, the holocaust, etc. I teach lessons about machines guns and poison gas, the effects of modern artillery and submarine warfare, and use images and archival film for all of them. But a pencil sketch that includes a handgun-fuck no can’t have that on the wall.

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  3. AlexInCT

    But a pencil sketch that includes a handgun-fuck no can’t have that on the wall.

    Even pictures of guns kill you insensitive buffoon!

    /leftard off

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  4. Hal_10000 *

    Always good to hear your perspective on education issues, Hist_Ed! Wow, he’s lucky he wasn’t suspended for drawing a gun.

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  5. Seattle Outcast

    The mistake is that people assume that this sort of BS isn’t deliberate. It is a widespread indoctrination program to make even thinking about guns to be considered evil and against the rules of civilized society.

    That it is massively pissing people off is not being considered by these people – you notice that they aren’t budging the slightest bit? That’s how powerful the teacher’s unions, the DOE and the education lobby is: you mean nothing to them, and your complaints and outrage are just the whines of poorly educated hillbilly idiots that don’t know what’s really good for them.

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  6. AlexInCT

    The mistake is that people assume that this sort of BS isn’t deliberate. It is a widespread indoctrination program to make even thinking about guns to be considered evil and against the rules of civilized society.


    In fact, I just the other day had some liberal tell me they thought guns where icky, dangerous, and evil unless wielded by agents of the state, and more importantly,since they would never get one, they felt nobody else should be allowed either. It’s just fairness to basically want nobody else to have something you don’t. Fucking morons.

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  7. Xetrov

    There’s no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren’t enough criminals one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws. Who wants a nation of law-abiding citizens? What’s there in that for anyone? But just pass the kind of laws that can neither be observed nor enforced or objectively interpreted – and you create a nation of law-breakers – and then you cash in on guilt. Now that’s the system…that’s the game, and once you understand it, you’ll be much easier to deal with.

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  8. Xetrov

    It’s funny. My wife is spending the morning at my son’s first grade class. Right after reading Hal’s post, she posted a picture on Facebook of him. He’s wearing a Star Wars shirt, with Vader on the front wielding a light saber. My first thought was I hope he doesn’t get expelled for having a weapon on his shirt.

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  9. pfluffy

    Sorry to be so offensive to hist_ed, but my son is on an IEP for language arts. Without it he would be lost in the classroom. With it he can keep up with most of the curriculum. I can assure you that it isn’t so that all will be cool if he blows up the science lab. Anyone that thinks differently can fuck right off.

    *pfluffy untwists her panties*

    That said, I do hate nanny stating and the encroaching police state. I suppose there is a left-wing component to the picture of a gun (asinine), but some of this is a consequence of “tough on crime”/”ignorance of the law is no excuse” stuff from the right. If we can prosecute a teenager for adult crimes up to rape and capital murder, then why is it such a stretch to expel a kid for having a shotgun in his truck or blowing up a science lab?

    For a parent, there isn’t much scarier than worrying about your kid doing something stupid in school that is misinterpreted by school admins. It is way to arbitrary and random. It appears to me that people that had a hard time in school have obtained upper level positions in education and are trying to right the wrongs of their childhoods.

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  10. hist_ed

    No offense taken. IEPs for educational reasons are important and I do not object to them (hell for many students I have taught I absolutely embrace them). I object to behavioral IEPs trumping everything including common sense. I don’t care what your malady is, if you deliberately set a kid on fire, then you should never be in a science lab again. I can’t imagine the conversation between my principal and the burned kid’s parents. It’s why I could not be an administrator, I would quit before having that conversation.

    There is a difference between “my kid has a learning disability/problem” IEPs and “My kid is just an asshole and I figured out how to game the system” IEPs.

    I should note that the student was not seriously injured or disfigured. They were using alcohol burners and my colleague got it out in a few seconds. He did lose some hair and had some painful burns, just nothing 3rd degree.

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  11. InsipiD

    This has to stop. The hysteria over school violence, the zero tolerance policies, the expelling and felony-charging of kids over pranks, mistakes and stupidity. It all has to stop.

    I’m very against zero tolerance policies. My greatest offense to them is that they aren’t applied to criminals outside of the school situation. To draw parallels between people of the same age (and the whole IEP situation), compare Cole Withrow’s situation (violated a rule by accident and tried desperately to do the right thing) to that of Kieth Cozart, AKA Chief Keef. Cozart has been routinely violating laws for several years, including drugs and weapons charges. He’s been in a shootout with police. There has not been any meaningful punishment given to him, probably for many different reasons. Why should Withrow’s life be ruined while Cozart is “Finally Rich?”

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  12. HARLEY

    I guess its a good thing that there was no CCW holder there at the school at the time of the “test”…….

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  13. InsipiD

    I guess its a good thing that there was no CCW holder there at the school at the time of the “test”…….

    CCW or not, what would’ve happened to someone who beat the grease out of one of the “shooters?” They just shouldn’t do a surprise “drill” of realistic emergency circumstances. Fire drills aren’t done by having smoke pour from a utility closet with a hot door. Tornado drills don’t begin with blowing gravel against windows until they break.

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