"I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power." - Thomas Jefferson 1820

"There is a growing technology of testing that permits us now to do in nanoseconds things that we shouldn't be doing at all." - Dr. Gerald Bracey author of Rotten Apples in Education

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Saturday, December 3, 2011

Are Public School Administrators So Incompetent They Have a 13 Year Old Boy Arrested for Burping at School? Yes.

Many administrators in public schools today are incompetent.  How and why are they incompetent?   Is it because the administrators themselves are inherently incompetent or is it the nature of public education jobs to nurture and expect incompetence?

Look at this article about US Representative Sam Graves and his meeting with Missouri superintendents.  Graves believes districts spend resources on decisions out of their local control, such as having to provide school lunches, programming, etc, set by the Federal Government:

U.S. Congressman Sam Graves told a group of educators he sees public schools unnecessarily picking up more and more responsibilities.

“The frustrating part is that schools are being called upon to do more and more of the parents’ role,” Graves said while speaking about the federal No Child Left Behind Act at Kearney Junior High School on Monday, Nov. 21. “And I think it’s wrong.”

These responsibilities, he said, aren’t limited to the mandate, which requires schools to improve student performance.First, schools were required to provide lunch, he said. Now, it’s breakfast, too, he said.

Graves is correct.   Schools are being mandated on what they must do in social programs and educational content.  The local schools have little input into how their schools operate.  What CAN local schools set?  Not much.  Your local school board and district can:
  • Hire teachers
  • Maintain the physical structures in the district and expansion projects
That is pretty much the "local control" politicians love to tout they want to protect.  Your local school board isn't setting the standards, assessments and in most cases, the curriculum for your student.  It can't.  It's been taken over by DESE and the consortia for Common Core standards.  But on the other hand, it is forced to pay for the Federal mandates which require more staffing to be sure the school district is performing to the DOEd's rules and regulations.

So why do you pay taxes for students in your district when your School Board has no input in how that money is being spent, save for teacher salaries and building upkeep/expansion?  What IS the function, then, of the School Board, the principals, the administrators and superintendents?  This group of bureaucrats is increasingly becoming nothing more than highly paid office workers.  Their autonomy has been stripped.  They do have to stay ahead of the curve on the numerous regulations coming from the Department of Education, so maybe that's why in certain districts (such as mine) they are paid quite well.  It must be difficult to be sure all the DOEd regulations are crossed and dotted so the district remains in compliance.

The teachers don't have autonomy either.  They are increasingly becoming more regimented in what they have to teach, how they teach it and when they teach it.  Many will have to teach to the test because if their students don't perform to particular levels, their job will be in danger.  Theoretically a passing student means competent teachers have taught that child.  But there isn't anything on that test page stating whether the child has special needs, is learning disabled, etc.  The teachers are feeling the pressure and so are the principals because if the principal can get fired if his/her school doesn't pass the required federal benchmarks. 

No local public education official has autonomy and they apparently are afraid of the Federal Government in the public school setting.  Maybe THAT'S why this ridiculous situation occurred:

A lawyer representing a 13-year-old student who was arrested for burping in class says there's a nationwide problem of schools handing off discipline to police. 

"They're calling it the public schools to prison pipeline," says civil rights attorney Shannon Kennedy. "They're criminalizing these delinquent acts instead of the traditional where you have a principal who disciplines children." 

Kennedy is representing a 13-year-old student that she says was handcuffed and charged with a crime for burping in his P.E. class. 

"A seventh grade boy burped once, a bunch of other boys laughed, maybe other people burped. It disrupted the P.E. class to the chagrin of this female teacher who called a school resource officer and had this boy handcuffed and charged with a crime in Albuquerque which is called Interfering with Public Education, a petty misdemeanor." 

Kennedy tells 97.3 KIRO FM's Ross and Burbank Show that the boy, reportedly an excellent baseball player who got an F in P.E. as a result of the incident, had no prior criminal history. 

"It's awful doing this to a child. It's terrifying for a 13-year-old boy who has never been in trouble before, who's not a gang member, who's not a drug dealer, he's facing tough, tough mean kids in the juvenile detention center." 

Listen to Attorney Shannon Kennedy:Boy handcuffed for burping in class

97.3 KIRO FM host Dave Ross says in his day, school officials provided ample authority for in-school enforcement. 

"When I was going to school. That guy was the vice principal. He was usually the scariest adult in the school. Ours had actually a withered arm so we were doubly frightened of him. And all it took was one look from him and you would immediately stop burping even if you had to." 

"The principal should be the one handling these situations," says Kennedy. "It's a failure of leadership." 

Kennedy is correct.  It IS a failure of leadership. With the climate in public education today, the local administrators are too incompetent to even handle age appropriate adolescent behavior without calling the police.  

The incompetence may not be due to an innate incompetence of the individuals at the schools, rather, it may be an inability to make autonomous decisions for fear of reprisals.  Should education be considered a "profession" any longer or is it now just a job for those who are good at taking orders and not being able to use good judgment in dealing with a burping 13-year old and giggling boys in a PE class?

This response from an answersyahoo.com comment says it all.  Maybe the administrators in Albuquerque should take some common sense advice on how to deal with teenage boys and harmless behavior.   It's from a young person responding to the question "why do boys think burping and farting is funny"?

That is a generalization; not all boys think burping and farting is funny. That's like me saying why do all girls care about how they look, when in fact not all girls care about how they look.

Anyway, the reason they do find it funny is because they're thirteen-years-old. They don't know how to act mature, as they're still very young. After a few years, they'll eventually stop burping and farting, and they'll stop laughing at it. Until then, you just have to roll with it. You can't expect much more from young teenagers.



  1. You have got to be kidding, they called the police for misbehavior, poor manners, and being silly at 13? Burping! Bunch of incompetent school officials. What a waste of taxpayers dollars.

  2. Gretchen, Sandra-- I was reading a few months ago about an 11 year old in Loudoun Co Virginia who now has a felony assault conviction for spit balls.

    A few generations ago nobody really got that upset when boys that age brought frogs and snakes to school and turned 'em loose in a classroom or put them in a girls desk...

    Don't get me wrong, the kid would have been cleaning blackboards after school for a long, long time...

  3. As a retired rural public school adm. I can assure you that many principals and teachers cant discipline students and are forced to do many things that are ineffective and stupid. Dont touch the student in any way {hug or break up a fight}, all statements to student will be second guessed including your handling of the problem as the help you need may only be a report taker. Parents and outside agencies threating legal action and investigation of you. Now add in teacher unions in some places that will only complicate discipline and its commen sense implication. You now will get the absurd things you hear about. Just bear in mind in Missouri you still have your rural schools that are doing the best they can NOT to be in these situtations that is relatively commen in urban schools. Yes folks test scores absolutely drive your childs education in ALL Missouri schools! These tests I have personally adm. are many times poorly written and stress too often nonsense as would be viewed by a most parents and teachers. The state doesnt want you to see these and hangs over the local school board threats of reprisal. Sadly many of my staff felt there only real teaching began after the "teat" till the end of the school year.

  4. "The incompetence may not be due to an innate incompetence of the individuals at the schools, rather, it may be an inability to make autonomous decisions for fear of reprisals. "

    Perfectly explains why liberty is preferable to tyranny, why state run economies fail, and free markets succeed. And why we are in sooo much trouble.

  5. I used to teach in public schools in CA. Fear of lawsuits must be driving this. The teacher is a sitting duck for accusations. I am glad I left the mess where I used to work. It's like a Dr Suess story in its absurdity. Lord help us as it will just get worse.

  6. Teachers in vocation are forced to deal with disruptive behavior in the classrooms and in Physical Education classes. The school environment has become challenged at schools. Mainly because of the lack of positive character being effectively enforced within the school, and perhaps mostly absent in the home. Administrators with no backbone are to blame. Disruptive behavior is destroying teacher morale and our classes. Every time a few students or more show disruptive behavior, a teacher who cares has to stop his or her lesson plan to try to discipline these students. Who is really getting hurt? The teacher who wants to teach within the standards set forth and the students who care about getting an education. Unnecessary disruptions rob everyone from a great learning experience.


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