So the kid in Ft. Benning, Georgia gets a ten day suspension from school for talking on his cell phone to his mother, who had called him unexpectedly from Iraq.
No cell phone use is allowed at the school when it's in session, even
though it sounds like the kids are permitted to carry them.
Allegedly the infraction occurred during lunch hour and the kid was outside the school. Maybe yes, maybe no.
Neverthless, the school starts
getting calls about the harsh punishment. From all over the country. As
a result of this outcry, the ten day suspension is reduced to three
Turns out the young man was also
rude and profane, apparently, to the teacher who told him to give up
the phone. He supposedly didn't tell the teacher that the call was
unexpected or that it was his mom calling from the desert. [One
would wonder why his phone was turned on during school hours when
getting calls was against the rules, but no sense in turning this into
a Dateline investigation.]
Anyway, everybody's got a take on
this one. The school was too harsh. Ten days smacks of zero
tolerance for an infraction that needed to be tempered with mercy. The
boy should have been more forthcoming and less insolent. He wasn't
really outside the school. He was inside. Whatever.
Here's what Mrs. Linklater thinks happened.
Kid gets a call. A teacher, who's
idea of handling kids is to take an authoritative approach, demands
that the little snotnose hang up and give him or her the phone.
Hey, you -- no cell phone use
during school hours -- you know the rules -- gimme that phone.
You're not supposed to be talking to anyone.
The kid just ignores the teacher
and tries to continue the call, maybe with one hand over his other ear.
He probably starts walking away so he can hear better over the teacher
shouting at him.
For all the kid knows his mother
will run out of time to talk to him if he has to stop and explain
everything to the pissed off teacher.
Now the teacher is really getting
annoyed. And probably attempts to physically take the phone away
from the kid. The kid gets mad and uses profanity to keep that from
Dammit this is an important call. Leave me alone.
It boils down to a struggle for
control. A teacher saying do it my way or else. And a kid
who misses his mom and doesn't want to lose contact with her. He also
knows instinctively that the teacher is being an asshole.
They're both at fault. But I
blame the teacher who was probably aggressive and accusatory, because
it sounds like the kid reacted like we all do when we've been verbally
attacked before having a chance to explain ourselves.
There are probably a million other
ways the situation could have been handled. With a better outcome
for the student, the teacher and the school.
Not to mention the boy's mother, who would have had a chance to tell him she loved him without an altercation taking place.
You know you're not supposed to be
on the phone, son, is this an emergency? It's my mom calling from
Iraq. Well, why don't you walk with me down to the office so you can
continue your call there.
As they walked the teacher could
let others know that it was his mother calling from Iraq, which is a
reason to celebrate, not a reason to punish. And there would have been
an easy explanation for a rule being bent.
And it should have been bent.