The old adage states that “those who can, do; those who can’t, teach; and those who can’t teach, teach gym.” I’d like to add a fourth line to that old saw. Those who can’t teach gym become school administrators. It occurred to me that if Darwin’s theory of evolution was true and that a species selectively breeds for the strongest and most desired traits, there would be no more stupid people left in the world. Yet, we regularly see that isn’t true, and we need to look no further than school administrators to see the most egregious examples of less than stellar critical thinking skills. One school administrator strip searched a thirteen-year-old girl on the suspicion of hiding ibuprofen in her underwear. An Eagle Scout was suspended for having a pocket knife in an emergency kit in his car. A Texas school district filed truancy charges against a mother for homeschooling her children in compliance with state law, while at the same time demanding private information from the family that went beyond the requirements of state law. These stories would be funny if they were not so serious.
Last February, I read a story that made me wonder whether or not prospective administrators are required to take EDU 522: The Constitution Doesn’t Apply To You. Allegedly, a school administrator at Harriton High School used images captured on a school issued laptop computer web cam to initiate disciplinary action against a fifteen-year-old boy for improper behavior in his home. You read that correctly: improper behavior in his home. The school district has the ability to secretly capture screen shots at any time on a district issued computer without the knowledge of the user. The district also has the ability to capture images through the web cam imbedded in the computer without the knowledge of the user. If a young student leaves his or her school issued computer on and open while changing their clothes in the privacy of their bedroom, the school just might take their picture!
Who in their right mind thought that this was a good idea? In what world do school administrators believe that they have the right to reach into a private citizen’s home and discipline the citizen? Why would they even want to? It’s not as if school administrators lack for things to do. And if the district wins the lawsuit brought against them by the student’s family, and some judge somewhere decides that this is an acceptable action for government-run schools to take, don’t the administrators realize that a precedent will be set for the government to look into their homes, too? I have to wonder if some school officials have somehow mentally disengaged themselves from participating in US citizenship and the US Constitution to become some sort of world citizen-at-large.
I’d like to say that this case is a slam-dunk for the plaintiff, but I don’t have that much faith in the judicial system. I would have thought that the strip-search case was a certain 9-0 decision by the SCOTUS, but apparently Justice Thomas believes that "judges are not qualified to second-guess the best manner for maintaining quiet and order in the school environment.” His words. That’s frightening.
Tomorrow, I’ll post the follow-up to this school computer case.