Authority problems.

A story last week out of Fort Wayne brought back a lot of memories. You can read it if you like, but here’s the gist:

A young woman, Kylee Furnish, a senior at one of the suburban high schools, completed her graduation requirements a few months early and joined the Marines. She finished her basic training and came home to participate in her commencement ceremony. Of course she expects to wear her dress blues. The school says no, cap and gowns only. This passage gets to the heart of the matter:

The district cannot place itself in a position where it makes some exceptions for some students but not for others, (the district spokesman) said.

“I understand she is a Marine and I understand that is dear to her and her family’s heart,” she said. “But if we let one student do that we would set a precedent for years to come.”

The district will give Furnish a cap and gown, (the spokesman) said, and is fine with Furnish wearing her uniform underneath the gown.

I saw some version of this story in every public-school district — there are four in Allen County — in the years I was there, and I’m sure there were dozens more that didn’t make the papers. The watchword was “zero tolerance,” the practice was “no exceptions,” and it applied to everything, paired with draconian punishments. Here’s one I heard in a scholarship interview: A junior with a over-4.0 average (something you can do with A-plus grades and AP enhancements), cruising to finish as a valedictorian or salutatorian, has a friend who’s caught drinking at a football game. Pressed to name his confederates, he fingers the honor student. Like the young man of good character he was raised to be, he tells the truth and admits his crime. Bam, instant suspension for the rest of the semester, which means he’s bundled off to “alternative school,” the one reserved for juvenile offenders. Sorry, son, we don’t do AP chemistry here, so his GPA takes a hit it never recovers from.

Here’s another: An exchange student from some eastern European country takes his camera into the locker room after a team practice one day, goofing around. There are one or two shots of his classmates in towels, one of a kid laughing, holding his hands over his naughty bits in the shower. Unacquainted with both American attitudes about nudity and our peculiar fear of CHILD PORNOGRAPHY, he develops the film in his photography class and distributes pictures to his teammates. Big mistake. This brings the harpies down on him. They can’t really suspend him — he’s a living symbol of cultural exchange and international brotherhood — so they double down and throw the book at everyone, including every single kid who’s in a picture, on the grounds they did not immediately alert the administration of this serious breach of school policy. One of the parents surreptitiously taped her meeting with the principal. He asked her son, “Jason, do you often pose for nude photos taken by other boys?”

Here’s another: A kid takes a Thermos of screwdrivers aboard a bus to Cedar Point for a junior class trip. The thermos is passed up and down the aisle, surely mitigating the intoxication possibilities but multiplying the number of lips that touch the forbidden elixir. Of course they’re found out, and of course the investigation concentrates on getting all the names on the table. One of them is a girl much like our scholarship student above, a guided success missile, and her mom’s a lawyer. No one’s keeping this girl out of the Ivy League. I don’t recall how this one played out, as it was under the radar of media coverage, but my vague recollection is that alternative school was traded for something less injurious to her grade-point average.

My point: Zero tolerance and zero deviation from stated policies and sentences are comforting to, and easy for, the people who make rules, but it makes for lousy learning. It’s especially cruel for young women like Kylee, the Marine, and it makes no sense whatsoever. What’s more, the spokeswoman’s explanation is complete and utter bullshit. One exception doesn’t “set a precedent for years to come.” It’s just an exception. A Marine dress-blues uniform is every bit as formal and appropriate in a graduation setting as a polyester cap and gown. Change the rule to allow military uniforms, if need be; the number of exceptions will be tiny, anyway. Letting one kid walk in her Marine uniform doesn’t mean you have to allow another kid to wear her band uniform, or his Wendy’s uniform, or a clown suit, or whatever. The kid survived Parris Island; surely commencement can survive her.

(I should point out that this particular district is hardly Berkeley East. It’s East Allen, probably the reddest part of a red county in a red state, and to call it a pro-military region is like saying you can find soybean fields there.)

Here’s the other thing policies like this do: They breed a culture of distrust on both sides. When there’s no mitigation possible, everyone digs in. The two honor students I mentioned had been raised to respect their elders and relate to them as adults who could be trusted to act in their best interest, which is how they, the adults, presented themselves as authority figures. Like a golden retriever who’s been groomed and petted all its life, these kids suddenly found themselves snubbed on a tight leash to be kicked. The takeaway lesson: It’s best to lie. If you want to wear your uniform, put it on under your robe, then take the robe off as you take your first steps onto the stage. (I doubt Kylee did this, but if she had, huzzahs to her.)


The theme today is in keeping with the bloggage today, a Free Press series on the nightmare suffered by a family when various forces collided to make authorities believe the parents were sexually abusing their children, particularly their severely autistic daughter. It’s a tale right out of Kafka. A strong element is something called “facilitated communication,” where an aide “guides” the hand of an uncommunicative autistic person on a keyboard, to “unlock” the messages within. (You’re thinking, “Oh, like a Ouija board?” So did I.)

The Wendrows believed that FC — despite being widely debunked by educators and researchers — helped unlock hidden literacy in their mute daughter.

Beginning in middle school, they pushed FC, threatening to sue the school district if it didn’t hire a full-time aide to facilitate their daughter. They requested that she be placed in mainstream classes. On her own, the girl couldn’t match the word “cat” to a picture of a cat, draw a circle or count to five.

But when she used FC, the results seemed astounding. With a facilitator guiding her arm, the child who had never been taught to read was suddenly writing poetry and English essays, taking history exams and doing algebra. The middle-schooler who couldn’t put on her coat without help was typing about her plans to become a college professor.

And soon after that, she was typing, with the help of an aide, a high-school graduate with one-count-em-one hour of training, that her dad was touching her. Part 1 is astounding, part 2 — about the police interrogation of her brother, who has Asperger’s — even worse.

OK, I’m way late this morning, I know. Kate was off at 6:45 a.m. to Cedar Point and I went back to bed, for an early taste of the sweet, late-sleeping mornings of summer. Sue me.

But work awaits. So I’m off.

Posted at 10:49 am in Current events |

55 responses to “Authority problems.”

  1. Jeff Borden said on June 14, 2011 at 11:15 am

    I’m glad to see someone raising the issue of zero tolerance because it’s a pernicious practice employed by those who fear nuance and worship authority. We too often read of elementary school students suspended for weeks because their mom made the mistake of including a plastic knife in their lunch box. Or the kid who brings a toy soldier wielding a gun to class and is shown the principal’s office door. At the high school level, these actions can be devastating to a young person’s future.

    No rose-colored glasses for me, but Christ, when I was caught smoking in the high school parking lot my junior year, I might’ve be liable for a few days of suspension, which would have sent my already lousy grades even further downhill. Instead, the principal and a guidance counselor talked to me in an office, chided me about my stupidity and asked me if I could commit to not doing it again. And I said yes and it went away. They used their knowledge of me as a student, their own instincts and took into account the triviality of the charge.

    When we prescribe these zero tolerance policies, we invite the kind of silly, counter-intuitive responses cited above. I guess it makes lawmakers and rulemakers feel all big and tough and strong, but it’s often a stupid way to deal with things.

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  2. coozledad said on June 14, 2011 at 11:30 am

    I vaguely recall reading somewhere that our educational system is based on a punitive Prussian model, developed in the early twentieth century around the new Pavlovian behavioral science to produce obedient little dogs who’d jump to the ringing of a bell.
    It’s survived despite sound, principled educational reform (John Dewey, anyone?) because policing is easier than educating. I don’t know how they’re going about it now, but in my day, they selected school administrators who were products of this model, hence: defensive, spineless sadists.
    It was always a shock for me to meet the children of academics, who’d benefited from a more enlightened approach to learning, in schools that weren’t designed to produce soldiers. They were different from the fearful little shits I was accustomed to. They were much more self assured and quicker studies, too.

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  3. nancy said on June 14, 2011 at 11:45 am

    One of our number who cannot post today directs us to this Wikipedia primer on the Prussian education system. I see the Lutherans are involved. Hmm.

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  4. Connie said on June 14, 2011 at 11:53 am

    Had the same uproar in Elkhart a few years ago regarding wearing marine uniforms to graduation.

    My town’s exchange student scandal: I was in middle school when a Swedish high school exchange student was sent home pregnant. No boys were punished because she couldn’t name names, she could only name the football team. Typical of the times back then.

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  5. Julie Robinson said on June 14, 2011 at 11:54 am

    My high school administration allowed a fairly long leash and ignored my snarky comments about them in the school newspaper, as well as my penchant for sitting on the floor during the pledge of allegiance. I was just blowing off steam, but today I’d probably be suspended.

    Zero tolerance also promotes zero creativity and zero thinking for oneself. To me, this is a more serious threat to our nation than the occasional lewd T-shirt or pill smuggled in for cramps.

    Some years ago, one local principal heard wind of a planned protest of Bush’s immigration policies at his school, one with a high immigrant population. Instead of threatening the planners, he turned it into a teachable moment by allowing the protest and hosting a discussion of the issues. It was the rare case of common sense winning.

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  6. John G. Wallace said on June 14, 2011 at 11:58 am

    When I lived near Fort wayne I thought those policies were too unyielding. I was dead wrong. why do you have to lock the doors at a certain time? To prevent some people and segments of society from showing up whenever and having one family lackey save seats. Why have a zero tolerance on cheering, screaming, shouting, and noise makers? Again, because certain segments of society insist on bringing air horns and even fireworks to graduations.

    I’m half deaf. One week after my son’s 5th grade graduation my ears are sting ringing from the woman (birth parent but bad example) that whipped out an air horn in a crowded gym to add to the hooting and hollaring from her kin, when not one single other person out of more than 1100 thought this would be an opportune time for using an emergency signalling device.

    I would have liked to see her exit in cuffs. I don’t say punish the kid for things like this – how about a one year ban for the family member from any on campus or school sanctioned events?

    You gave some extreme examples of consequences but I believe each of these kids knew they were not following rules. As for the Marine, it’s a great service to our country but with other people always looking for an exception I’d back the school up on no means no. If you give a mouse a cookie…

    I did draw some amusement from the former J-G education writer who previously had to champion these “why me” causes to being the voice of FWCS and answering the “because” part instead.

    Does it sound like I’m still pissed at Madea goes to a graduation? My wife said if I was 15-feet closer I would have proved you can get shot at a 5th grade graduation because I had no problem serving up that “go ahead punk,” glare from across the room.

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  7. nancy said on June 14, 2011 at 12:09 pm

    As I recall, John, all those strict rules against graduation celebrations didn’t stop people from doing them. And while I share your feelings about them — I remember reading, mystified, about the vuvuzela parties in the audience many times — I don’t see where allowing an enlisted member of the military to wear a regulation uniform to an event like this sets some awful precedent. You can argue on the drinking, but if there’s no room for nuance, why even make school administrators get advanced degrees? Hire some prison wardens and be done with it.

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  8. paddyo' said on June 14, 2011 at 12:11 pm

    Every time I hear about/read one of these stories (and they are legion), my default reaction is, “Where’d common sense go?”

    Then I check myself and realize, in the land of zero-tolerance, common sense long ago left the building. What it takes to overcome this plague is uncommon sense. Yeah, good luck finding any of that.

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  9. Suzanne said on June 14, 2011 at 12:15 pm

    I’d love to see a more reasonable approach to disciplinary measures, but I also know that school administrators often have been sent to this point by unreasonable parents. My kid’s school banned all tee-shirts with slogans because one kid’s parents raised a royal stink when the school (parochial to boot) wouldn’t let him wear some tee shirt with a disgusting picture, although I don’t even recall now what it was. After tiring of the fight, the school board finally said no more logo’s of any kind, unless it was a shirt bearing the school name. And I could write a book on the parochial school parents fighting to let their kids show up in short, short skirts, mid-riff low neck shirts, and the like. Cleavage for Jesus or something, I guess.

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  10. mark said on June 14, 2011 at 12:25 pm

    Great post, nancy!

    The “no exceptions” world raises lots of issues/concerns, and I think your examples cover many of them.

    With the Marine, I side with the school, and John W’s comments touch on the reasons. Some events are intended to be about more than the individual. They aren’t occasions to demand “look at me!” If people don’t like that, they should stay away and keep their air horns and dress blues at home. High school graduation honors all, and pays tribute to the collective as well as the individual achievement. I’m proud of young Kaylee and respect greatly those who choose to serve in the military. But high school graduation isn’t about honoring those who survive 3 months of boot camp it’s about recognizing those who achieve 12 years of education. Her desire to be singled out is just as selfish whether she wants to wear dress blues or baggy pants and a thong.

    Kaylee had a ceremony to honor her basic training achievement, held with others who could take pride in and be recognized for the same achievement. She didn’t wear her high school letter jacket and the crowd didn’t chant “Homestead High! Homestead High!”

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  11. Michael said on June 14, 2011 at 12:26 pm

    My nightmare zero tolerance story involved the honors student who meticulously research his family’s Sottish heritage and then put together an authentic jacket and kilt to wear to the Prom. His authenticity included the ceremonial dagger worn around the leg. You guessed it. Immediate suspension for bringing a weapon to a school event. Zero tolerance, no exceptions. Of all the risks kids face on prom night getting stabbed by this kid was pretty remote.

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  12. moe99 said on June 14, 2011 at 12:28 pm

    John, I suffer from severe tinnitus exacerbated by my chemo. When I am in a situation involving lots of people and noise I take care of myself by bringing ear protection. You have to do that for yourself because in a crowd situation no one knows your status and griping ain’t gonna fix it.

    Sentencing for judges is also in the zero tolerance limits yet we still get abusive men who get free and kill their significant others and like tragedies.

    And if you really want to go to the “we follow the rules no exceptions” let me introduce you to my own private Idaho. Taxing agency in the state I used to represent took that no exceptions attitude as well. They were hell on small businesses. A self employed logger (this is a decision of public record so I can mention it) was audited and assessed unpaid worker’s comp premiums because he couldn’t produce his hourly records. Law says if the employer provides no records at the time of audit, the agency can assess at highest number of hours for highest classification of work for the period of the audit and this agency took that seriously. Guy was assessed $16,000 for a year’s premiums. He was going through a divorce and the ex refused to turn over his records at the time of audit. Law also says if you don’t turn over your records at the time of audit you can’t protest the audit. He did anyway and went to hearing. By the time of the hearing, he had his records and they showed he earned a total of $13,000 for that entire year. So of course the judge (1) allows the appeal and (2) reverses and remands the case. The head of the program I represented is livid and tells me we have to appeal because that’s not what the law says.

    Think that fosters good will in the community?

    Think that leads to an equitable result? And this one was not the worst.

    I resigned two months after my cancer diagnosis and went back to being a simple line attorney.

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  13. Jim G said on June 14, 2011 at 12:45 pm

    I have to go with the school district on this one. It’s not a discipline thing, which, in my opinion, distinguishes it from all the other examples you give.

    Graduation is for celebration of academic achievement (or survival, anyway). I haven’t been to a high school graduation in ages, but I have been to a few college graduations in my day (and recently), and the only variations on the cap & gown theme have been related to academics: hoods for doctoral graduates, cords and medallions for academic honors and societies, etc. Military service, as honorable and valuable as it is, doesn’t really have much to do with graduating from high school. You say band members wouldn’t be allowed to wear their uniforms, but at least that would have something to do with school.

    If this were some other formal-wear event where civilians wore tuxedos, that would be different. But a graduation gown isn’t formalwear.

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  14. del said on June 14, 2011 at 1:06 pm

    Yep, it sure kills goodwill Moe. Borden and Cooz touched on my thoughts. Our schools rest too heavily on Authoritarianism. Administrators who don’t brook fine distinctions not only fail to educate, they undermine education.

    A neighbor who moved here from Germany 25 years ago can’t get over how regimented Americans’ lives are, from our schools to our neatly manicured grass lawns. He had expected to find a land of tolerance and freedom. (His front yard is beatiful garden, to another neighbor’s dismay). Even the Prussians see us for what we have become.

    Schools seem to have ramped up zero-tolerance policies since my early high school days in the dazed and confused 70’s. I can only imagine what would have happened to my high school buddy if my freshman baseball coach had noticed him taking a hit from his makeshift bong in right field during practice. I imagine my buddy’s future career as a policeman (from which he is now retired) would’ve taken a hit. Rimshot.

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  15. Sherri said on June 14, 2011 at 1:11 pm

    How can we expect school district to display nuance when the Supreme Court backs up their ridiculousness? Remember Bong Hits 4 Jesus?

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  16. John G. Wallace said on June 14, 2011 at 1:19 pm

    @Moe, you are right. I avoid crowd settings except for work related things, and this was for my child. I am 100% deaf in the left ear, sensonureal hearing loss. I have perfect hearing in the right. The ringing in the left is still somewhat puzzling to my ENT. It seems to me to come from stress and fatigue.

    Prior to the event starting I put my ear bud in the right ear and listened to music instead of crowd chatter. I have no sense of where sound come from and I try to put myself in situations where I know the acoustic levels and patterns I can expect, like certain restaurants.

    This particular sound was absolutly unexpected and didn’t fit with the community. And I wasn’t trying to say it was a black “thing” rather a ghetto thing. Many of the kids who won the President’s Award for Academic Achievement were black, as was one of the top three scorers on the FCAT. It was the crew who rolled in in do rags, and sporting the thug look that pulled this one. My son told me later that was his friend’s mom and his friend was embarassed by what she did.

    So ear plugs and further isolation seems to be required. I can’t compare my problem with yours and I guess if you can make adjustments so can I.

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  17. Bitter Scribe said on June 14, 2011 at 1:40 pm

    If they’d had zero tolerance when I was in high school, I’d have about a tenth-grade education.

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  18. MaryRC said on June 14, 2011 at 2:42 pm

    I get the point about zero tolerance but I have to side with Mark and Jim. Congratulations to Kylee for finishing basic training but her high school commencement is being held to celebrate the achievements of all her classmates in graduating from high school. It’s not a zero-tolerance issue as I see it, it’s about behaving appropriately in a specific situation. Perhaps the school spokesman could have chosen a better way to express this by saying that this is a celebration for all of the graduating class equally, rather than the “If we give an exception to one, they’ll all want it” angle.

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  19. Dorothy said on June 14, 2011 at 2:52 pm

    The first thing I thought of when I read about the Marine was “She’s going to be a Marine and wear that uniform for other special events while she is one. Why does she have to wear it at her high school graduation?” Just my personal opinion – it has nada to do with rigid rule enforcement. It just feels like she (or her parents, if they are the ones pushing the issue) are trying to single her out for special attention for something that really has zilch to do with her high school achievements.

    But you’re right – for the school to use the excuse that it’s going to set a precedent, my next thought was “And exactly how many more students are going to be Marines by the time they finish high school? Sounds like a one-and-done to me.” But I look at it as two separate achievements. I don’t think they need to be joined for this occasion. On the other hand, they could have something in the program about her recently becoming a Marine, so she at least gets recognized for that. (And aren’t there rules for when a member of the armed forces can or cannot wear their uniforms? My son is in the National Guard and I know there are specific guidelines they must adhere to.)

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  20. nancy said on June 14, 2011 at 3:10 pm

    I’d like to hear 4dbirds’ take on this, but I thought that when you’re active-duty military, a uniform of some sort is your default outfit. Obviously there are exceptions, but people marry in uniform, don’t they? She said in the story she’s required to wear it at “ceremonial events,” and a commencement qualifies. Obviously military academy graduates do so in uniform, but what about ROTC officers, etc.? Dunno.

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  21. Little Bird said on June 14, 2011 at 3:11 pm

    It seems common sense just isn’t all that common anymore. Kids can’t even bring nail clippers to school anymore!
    That story about the autistic child broke my heart. That debacle went on far too long.

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  22. Joe Kobiela said on June 14, 2011 at 3:23 pm

    While I was reading about the 101st and 82nd airborne jumping into Normandy one of the troopers was asked what he was thinking when he jumped. His reply was,he remembered his high school class was graduating that night. Wonder if they would have let him wear his uniform?
    Pilot Joe

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  23. Jeff Borden said on June 14, 2011 at 3:35 pm

    I’m with Joe, especially after Nancy has noted the uniform would be UNDERNEATH the graduation gown. It’s not like she’s flaunting her dress blues. She’s proud, yes, but that uniform will be mostly hidden from view. Meanwhile, I guess it will be okay for the “cool kids” to be wearing their blue jeans with plenty of underwear jail house-style showing under their gowns?

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  24. nancy said on June 14, 2011 at 3:36 pm

    No, she wants — or wanted — to wear it alone.

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  25. Julie Robinson said on June 14, 2011 at 3:38 pm

    FWIW, our kids went to a school with a ROTC program, and those kids wore the standard cap and gown at graduation.

    Sorta off topic: I’m a third of the way through The Passage, and those who dismiss it as just another vampire story must not have read it. No dreamy romance here, but a sober examination of how our world reacts to evil along with a dose of good old 60’s anti-authoritarianism. (At least so far.)

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  26. Dorothy said on June 14, 2011 at 3:41 pm

    Okay I called my son just now and asked him a bit about this. He said the Marines are almost a special case by themselves when it comes to uniforms because they are the best damned looking uniforms there are in the US armed forces. He thinks the school should allow the young lady to wear the uniform if she wants to. The Marines do have rules, and it can be a little ambiguous, but as long as the occasion is not discrediting the Marines or the U.S.A., it’s perfectly okay to wear it to such a ceremony. If it were him, though, he said he’d feel funny singling himself out like that and would not do it. Sort of boils down to personal preference I guess.

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  27. MaryRC said on June 14, 2011 at 3:53 pm

    Jeff, the article states that the school is “fine with Furnish wearing her uniform under the gown”, which leads me to believe that she wanted to wear the uniform without the gown.

    That series of articles on the family with the autistic daughter was horrifying, especially the part where the son with Asperger’s syndrome was interviewed by the cop. What was truly sad was the parents’ need to believe that their daughter was capable of following a high-school curriculum, to the point where they virtually harassed the school. From the comments, I gather that the father suggested that another facilitator be brought in to assist the girl in interviews, to see if she told the same story — implying that perhaps he didn’t have complete faith in FC after all.

    Interesting to note how many of the comments on these articles were replaced by “This comment was left by a user who has been blocked by our staff.” I wonder if it was the same guy every time.

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  28. 4dbirds said on June 14, 2011 at 3:54 pm

    I agree, the Marines do have the best looking uniforms. In this case the ceremony is to mark her graduation from high school. I side with the school. She should wear her cap and gown. When my brother graduated from college and received his ROTC commission on the same day, he wore his cap and gown to the commencement ceremony and of course his uniform to his commissioning.

    Military people are allowed and encouraged to wear their formal uniform (as opposed to fatigues, BDU’s, sailor blues) in public. For a lot of young military men, their uniform is the only suit they own.

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  29. Halloween Jack said on June 14, 2011 at 4:51 pm

    I really don’t have a problem with the Marine wearing her uniform–it’s supposed to be a commencement ceremony, and she’s already commenced her post-graduate life. What I would like to see is those parents who violate the rules to get kicked out, and arrested if they won’t leave. Hey, kids, this is what happens in real life if you act like an asshole.

    Those parents in the FC case… I wish that they’d done a little research on FC before they pressed the school to hire the “facilitator”, but they didn’t deserve the hell they were put through. I’m reminded strongly of the McMartin-Buckey case, in which the operators of a preschool were prosecuted for allegations of child abuse brought about by false memory syndrome. I suspect that the people who bring about these situations by putting words in children’s mouths–whether by FMS or FC–are deeply damaged people who are projecting their own history onto the children that they care for.

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  30. alex said on June 14, 2011 at 5:09 pm

    When I graduated, everyone dressed quite lightly under those hideously hot nylon gowns. I can’t imagine wearing a full dress uniform under one of those cursed things.

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  31. Rana said on June 14, 2011 at 5:19 pm

    Regarding the military uniforms – looking over the regulations, what it looks like to me is that Marines are under no obligation to wear their dress uniforms (of whatever variety) unless directed to do so by their superiors, and that it’s the “utility” uniform (the somewhat pajama-like camou option) that one wears when going about one’s ordinary business.

    So if she wants to wear her dress blues to the ceremony, that’s purely choice on her part, not some requirement. Given that I recall that one of the other rules for appearing in public in uniform is that the serviceperson is supposed to comport him- or herself in a manner that enhances the public image of the armed forces, I would think that she’d be better off not making a fuss about it, because it looks petty and self-aggrandizing, and therefore verges on “conduct unbecoming.”

    Wear it under the gown; take the gown off after the ceremony.

    As for the other things, it’s that sort of petty authoritarianism, and the way it aims to teach students to obey authorities unquestioningly, that makes me consider homeschooling, should I be in a situation where I’d be responsible for a child’s education.

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  32. Dexter said on June 14, 2011 at 5:39 pm

    Is Kylee Furnish a smart-ass-in-your-face-girl?
    She’s in the US Marines, and she doesn’t understand the dress code is a daily order and it changes, and an E-2 enlisted woman has no say in the matter? She comes home to participate in her precious high school graduation, a step already taken into the outside world, and she wants to stand out like a sore thumb, dictating the dress code be suspended just for her? What about the other students?
    I think that when she felt she had to join the US Marines even before her class graduated, she moved away from a high school mentality, and forfeited her right to participate , perhaps, but certainly , not to wear her dress blues amongst the cap and gown-clad kids.

    The order of the day was given to her that day by civilian authority: wear the goddam cap and gown while you receive your diploma.
    When a young person enters military service, high school days are over. Only a fool even brings his / her high school ring to basic training (Marines call it Boot Camp).
    Kylee Furnish is in for big trouble if she thinks she can wear whatever she wants while under Uncle Sam’s thumb. What arrogance.

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  33. Jeff Borden said on June 14, 2011 at 5:43 pm

    I made a mistake in my reading of the situation and thought the young lady only wanted to wear it beneath her robe. This does strike me as wavering at the line of pride and arrogance, so perhaps the school is correct on this count. And it would set a precedent that other students might exploit in uncomfortable ways in coming years.

    I’m still no fan of zero tolerance policies, but this is not as open and shut a case as I thought when I made my original post.

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  34. Dexter said on June 14, 2011 at 5:48 pm

    Since it is Flag Day, I’d like to call out some grand-standing attention grabbers and let you compare them to someone from the past that was way-more benevolent.
    For Memorial Day, 2011, the Cincinnati Reds made sure the radio and TV guys let us know how the Reds, for one game, had let ten war veterans into the game for free…imagine that! What great patriotism!

    And then, forty-plus years ago, all the while Charlie Finley owned the Oakland A’s American League Baseball Club, he let all soldiers, Marines, and sailors into the Oakland Alameda County Stadium for free, every game. Totally free. I took advantage many times. Old Charlie did this for years, and I bet nobody ever said a damn thing about it. Charlie didn’t want praise for it, but these brash Cincinnati executives sure want praise for themselves, for such a tiny gesture.

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  35. prospero said on June 14, 2011 at 5:57 pm

    If the kid wants to wearccomplished was cool? her dress blues, how often will this come up? As much as I find AmericAccomplished and the tube socks in the jockstrap was cool? American militarisam is odious, what in the world is wrong with this kid wearing her uniform. Weird sports. This is moronic. Did these dumbasses think Mission Accomplished was cool? If these deniers thought there was a way of turning this on the brown-skinned President, they’d do it in a moment. Whited sepulchres. Michael Jordan is famous for saying Republicans buy shoes too. Jordan was a Nixon type of guy. Dirk is more of a JFK sort. This seems relatively obvious. Far as Lord Stanley’s Cup is concerned. Game 1 was handed to the canucks on a horrible missed offside by the officials. The Canucks are obvious homunculi for the Heat. Aholes. Luongo’s bullshit about Tim Thomas’ style was hilarious. Did he give up beaucoup goals? Luongo, feet of clay. What a Lebronuongo. B’s have to be the people’s choice. There have never been worl-class whiners like the Sedins. Gordy Howe would slice them to ribbons. Wusses, and that is not sexist. But Thelma and Louise? Maybe. A real dickhead nonentity, Rome, takes out the Bruin’s best player. Wow that’s fair. And then he whines. What an ahole. He should have been arrested for assault. Two hands on the stick, back of the skull. And Vancouver fans are complaining? Seriously? What a bunch a maroons. It’s really hilarious that LA fans have picked up on the Vancouver whining. Were they actually watching anything that actually happened on the ice?? Am I wrong, or is Dirk a good guy? He plays to the bone. He is tough as nails. What if somebody had decided it was OK for him to travel and to reach in? What if somebody had said that was alright for Larry and J to just cheat? You know, walk, reach in. Tell me jordan didn’t do this shit. You would hurt yourself if you claimed otherwise. What an immense crock of shit. The travelling was beyond comprehension. He was an absurd cheater. He also reached in beyond comprehension. Guy cheated like a bastard. How did this avoid the obvious consideration? He cheated his ass off. He is one amazing piece of shit liar. And he killed his dad.

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  36. brian stouder said on June 14, 2011 at 6:16 pm

    Last evening I went to the Fort Wayne Community Schools’ Board of Trustees meeting, because our Superintendent was slated to deliver an in-depth report update on how our schools are doing, and what challenges and opportunities she foresees.

    I got there shortly before the 6 pm start, and headed for home shortly before 9, having never sat down in the meanwhile(!) It was a packed house owing to many end-of-school recognitions and presentations, and it was nonetheless quite good….and in fact, the subject Nance brings up was directly addressed by her old WGL colleague Mark the Shark GiaQuinta, when (late in the evening) state-mandated modifications to the FWCS parent/student handbook came up for discussion.

    He essentially voiced the Nall-line, of reasonable flexibility and proportional response to whatever issues arise. But of course, being a policy-making board, it will be difficult to delineate that; and indeed, higher-level policy makers (ie – the state legislature) are constantly muddying the waters and/or precluding local decision-making and policy.

    And to John W at 6 above, indeed, Ms Stockman is a genuinely pleasant personage at all events; and she has a job I would never want. Everytime it snows (for example), a blizzard of complaints are sure to fill her official Facebook page – heatedly arguing why the district was wrong to do whatever it did.

    Delay? It should have closed! Closed? There was practically no snow at all, when I drove to work! No delay or closure? Good God!! You’re gambling with the safety of our babies! etc etc

    On top of all the academic challenges FWCS is currently (and I strongly believe, successfully) navigating, they are also now forthrightly dealing with a suddenly balky teachers’ union – and contract negotiations have formally reached “impasse” status….which triggers several more layers of official (and largely arcane) mandatory actions – most of which have never been utilized before.

    God love the teachers; but their timing on this is particularly vexing.

    By way of saying, I can see why Ms Stockman and her reporter husband still write a wine column, too

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  37. moe99 said on June 14, 2011 at 6:50 pm

    This, This is one damn fine rant:

    …• Oh, Christ: Virginia Postrel, “Need a Light Bulb? Uncle Sam Gets to Choose: Virginia Postrel. By Virginia Postrel. June 10

    Reader, I’m assuming you’re an adult, which means you’re just as flummoxed as I by the phenomenon of people over 25, with IQs at or above bathwater, openly proclaiming themselves libertarian. I’m assuming you’re aware that every man-made object you’ve touched today involved some degree of regulation by government, and that you probably understand why, and perhaps are even conversant with 19th century fatality rates from railroad and industrial accidents directly attributable to laissez-faire. Or, if you’ve only been paying attention since the dawn of the 21st century, you might recall how large-scale domestic processors of meat, eggs, spinach or peanuts have behaved when they thought no one was watching, let alone how the Chinese believed a soupçon of automotive solvents added that certain something to pet food.

    What I’m saying is there is no way you can believe this shit and claim to’ve thought anything out. And in a country which has seen armed international conflict over the shooting of a pig, mass panic over a science-fiction radio broadcast, injury to hundreds of its citizens who thought a picture of a lemon on a free sample bottle of dish soap meant it would zest up a glass of iced tea, and the career of Sarah Palin, the Great Light Bulb Rebellion is absolutely the stupidest political movement of all time.

    However, we’re nothing if not a resourceful race, and there’s nothing so dire, misinformed, or risible that mentioning The Ol’ Perfesser can’t make worse…

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  38. coozledad said on June 14, 2011 at 7:10 pm

    moe99:On the other hand, I like it when someone lets me know they’re a libertarian. That way I can begin an immediate assessment of their empathic dysfunction and whether they’re borderline personalities, sociopaths or simply stupid enough to buy that mountain of shit and breathe it in as deeply as possible.

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  39. moe99 said on June 14, 2011 at 8:10 pm

    Coozledad, You realize that the Alred Krupp built his office over a pile of shit because he thought that smelling it inspired him? This is from William Manchester’s The Arms of Krupp:

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  40. coozledad said on June 14, 2011 at 8:41 pm

    I thought I was just being obtuse. You really can’t make shit up.
    Those German industrialists were even worse than Grosz portrayed them. And Hitler had that predilection for Cleveland steamers.
    Here’s a title for an enterprising scholar- The Authoritarian Cacaphony: Misuses of Feces From Casanova to David Vitter.

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  41. basset said on June 14, 2011 at 8:45 pm

    I held the job equivalent to Ms. Stockman’s in the Nashville schools for nine and a half years, carried a pager 24/7, took shit from anyone who wanted to deal it out anywhere I might be (for example, the car wash, the grocery store, any social gathering, the Houston airport on the way back from vacation… even got accosted on a sightseeing train in Alaska but she was nice about it), and I hope her stress level is a lot lower than mine was.

    Every time I went to the doctor for anything during that period, his first words were “You quit that job yet?” Eventually we had a regime change and the job quit me, turned out to be for the best. Don’t know anything about wine but I have a glass of cheap Malbec in front of me right now, good enough for government work.

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  42. moe99 said on June 14, 2011 at 9:42 pm

    You really need to work the term coprophagia into that title too, C’dad.

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  43. Deggjr said on June 14, 2011 at 10:05 pm

    The uniform question is not straightfoward. A couple of years ago at a big local high school, a few students pushed the uniform question and wore their uniforms at graduation. The context was ‘we support President Bush and his war’ so the question was not as neutrally presented as with young Kylee.

    But, three or four (or more) graduates of that high school have been killed in Iraq/Afghanistan. They didn’t start the war under false pretenses; they were just willing to sacrifice their lives at their country’s request and they did.

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  44. coozledad said on June 14, 2011 at 10:14 pm

    Moe: Some people would say “Vitter” is a kind of code for “Plate Job”, but only the girls at Mme. Planousset’s Bistro of Eternal Shame know for sure. Given your description of Krupp, I’m thinking the preface of the book is going to have to include a lengthy discourse on the Delphic Oracle. Maybe Victor Davis Hanson won’t be afraid to get his hands dirty with some field work.

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  45. Deborah said on June 14, 2011 at 10:32 pm

    Fascinating post and comments today. When I first read Nancy’s post I was 100% in agreement with it about the wearing of the uniform. Then I read the comments by some about the opposite, that wearing the cap and gown was the right thing to do and I started to agree with that. I have to say that I can see it both ways and I can’t decide which way I think is right. I don’t feel bad about that, I think that’s what makes life interesting. Does there absolutely have to be an answer one way or the other? I think not.

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  46. brian stouder said on June 14, 2011 at 10:33 pm

    Basset, you have my respect.

    I’m fairly certain that I’d want no part of being a public official, even on something as (seemingly) innocuous as a school board of trustees. Our school board has 7 members, and they are non-partisan elected officials. In gabbing with one of them, I learned that the occasional death-threat is part of the reward that one gets, for daring to immerse oneself in the minutia of policy-making and oversight.

    edit: and here’s a video that made me think of Nance’s better half…although I’d bet a case of ice-cold Diet Coke that her commander wouldn’t foul up as comprehensively as this catamaran cap’n did

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  47. MichaelG said on June 14, 2011 at 10:38 pm

    In my view zero tolerance equates to zero brains. With it (as someone noted) we don’t need administrators. Just clerks. No judges. Just clerks.

    Even murder prosecutions are nuanced, for heaven’s sake. Circumstances are carefully considered before charges are leveled. Murder, manslaughter, involuntary manslaughter, etc. The same goes for sentencing those convicted. Zero tolerance is in the same sack as “tough love”, that punishment category beloved of sadists and the ‘one kid fucks up so all kids suffer’ school of justice. You know, “Johnny farted so none of you get to go on the circus field trip”.

    Parents blowing horns at graduations and otherwise misbehaving are another category altogether from cap and gown discipline. You can’t compare them to the Marine kid. Those louts are not subject to school rules or school disciplinary procedures. The administrators should have called the cops and had the jerks removed.

    That said, I am truly conflicted over what to think about decision concerning the ill-advised Marine girl who wanted to wear her uniform. She seems to be a narcissistic exhibitionist but who knows who else is pushing her. Sadly, this doesn’t seem to me to be a hill to die on for either party.

    There are those who don’t think Marine uniforms are the coolest thing around. I mean bright blue pants with red stripes. White hats. That’s high school band stuff. When I was in the 101st Abn we called them clown suits. We thought our simple, tightly tailored khakis with spit shined jump boots and glider caps were it. We weren’t the least bit opinionated.

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  48. Upsy Daisy said on June 14, 2011 at 11:57 pm

    OK, it’s not about Prussians or other high-level issues, but my 11-year-old daughter was suspended from school last week for a day because she passed a mean note to another 11-year-old. Shouldn’t have done it, but is this really suitable to the “crime”? I say phooey to zero tolerance.

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  49. Connie said on June 15, 2011 at 12:04 am

    Well Brian, I guess you could say I’m a public official, and have been for most of my adult working life, though employed, not elected. Sometimes it’s a struggle, and sometimes it’s mostly pleasant like now. One of the worst parts is reading the nasty comments in newspaper forums, where I learned over and over again that I have wasted millions of your tax dollars. Not an issue here where the local news is weekly and the daily news is the Detroit Free Press who could care less about western Oakland County.

    And while I’ve never been an Apple person, tonight the township board decided the township would replace their 7 year old laptops with ipads, and that the seven top level managers – including me – would get ipads as well. So cool. And it’s not even coming out of my budget.

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  50. prospero said on June 15, 2011 at 6:48 am

    Connie, the entire idea of public servants wasting money is unadulterated idiocy. Calling government bureaucracy is so moronic it stretches disbelief. GM isn’t a bureaucracy? Microsoft isn’t? Do people have the slightest clue what the word means? Apparently, they are too GD dumb. The money wasted in corporate America dwarfs anything government is capable of. And everybody pays. Including That twisted misanthrope Krautheimer. Meanwhile, I’m getting a Why shouldn’t I try this?. I realize it’s nuts. but what the hey? It’s like Repoman. A great movie.

    Zero tolerance leads to the Jean Valjean idiocy of three strikes. Obviously the most grotesque perversion of common law there ever was. Life sentences for idiot junkie shoplifting? Because it was number three? What particular sort of officious moron does this require? Scalia? Thomas? Remember when conservative aholes were all het-up about activist judges? Well they shut up about that shit, didn’t they? Because, they are the activist judges. Cops can pull you over for no reason and search your car. The corporate Kochs are a person and can fund character assassination. Swift Boaters aren’t slanderers, that’s free speech. And the ultimate clown, Incurious George W. was the President appointed by Scalia, and he didn’t fuck the economy by running two invasions off the books while cutting his own freaking taxes..

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  51. basset said on June 15, 2011 at 7:29 am

    Appreciate that, Brian.

    I don’t know that any of our school board members got death threats, but they might have made some – we had one guy in particular who was elected on a throw-the-bums-out platform and announced at his first board meeting that the board was all wrong and he was there to oppose everything they did.

    He hated Macs for some reason – why buy expensive computers when you can get them at the unclaimed-freight place for a lot less? Every penny spent was a waste, the entire central office was useless bureaucracy, run it like a business, cut, fire, punish, so on, so forth. And, as you would expect, he got frustrated and quit before his first term was up.

    We issued Mac laptops to the board for awhile, I remember that one of them came back smashed after the member who had it – different one – didn’t get re-elected.

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  52. nancy said on June 15, 2011 at 8:00 am

    Amazing, Basset. In some ways, that guy sounds like a guy who was on the board in FW for a while. One of the radio lip-flappers claimed he — the board member — told him the brand-new Olympic-size swimming pool the district had dared to build at an “inner-city” high school was useless for district meets. Why? Because the contractors had mis-measured, and the pool was one inch short of the regulation distance. What else could you expect? Government can’t build anything right.

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  53. prospero said on June 15, 2011 at 9:31 am

    Kylee wears the uni, no brainer. This is stupidity. Sorry Nancy, Government builds things right. Always did. Roosevelt understood. Bush got it wrong. Start an invasion where the oil will pay for itself. Utter maroon.

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  54. Connie said on June 15, 2011 at 9:43 am

    Nancy’s comment about the school pool reminds of a millage election when I was in high school. It was to include a pool. A letter to the editor opposing the pool stated “I learned to swim in a ditch and so can they.” After several failed millages the school expansion with pool opened in time for my 8 years younger brother to attend.

    And for Indiana folks, I mentioned working for a township earlier. Townships in Michigan are real governments similar to cities, unlike the almost useless townships in Indiana (assessments and poor relief.) Also in Michigan local municipalities handle their own assessing, tax bills, etc., whereas in Indiana all that is handled by the county.

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  55. Suzanne said on June 15, 2011 at 10:04 am

    I get crazy when people claim government should be run like a business. I’ve worked for a few businesses in the last couple of years and talk about waste and inefficiency! I am amazed that several of them are still in business at all. And as you said, so eloquently Prospero “The money wasted in corporate America dwarfs anything government is capable of.” Amen!

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