Start with a simple school solution: Orderly classrooms

dlauderdale@islandpacket.comMay 29, 2014 

- — Stock

Put aside if you will the criminal charge that came out of an incident in a Bluffton High School classroom last week: A male teacher allegedly popped a female student on her buttocks.

The courts and the school district will deal with that, but what about the other stuff the police report said was going on in the classroom?

Is this a typical high school class in Beaufort County or an extreme example? You've got to wonder.

The incident took place in a classroom where a fluffy-sounding subject -- "Fashion, Fabric and Design" -- was being taught.

The male teacher walked in and asked the female teacher in charge to sew a button on his pants.

The students were watching a movie.

One student was lying on a table.

Another student was sound asleep.

Is any of this OK?

Among other things it shows a big disconnect between those who theorize and pass laws about what schools should be, and what sometimes happens in real classrooms.

Politicians seem to think they know a lot about schools. At least that's the impression you get when you see the micro-managing they do.

In Columbia this week, a bill was derailed that would have required sex education teachers to offer "medically accurate information" in their instruction. The goal was to reduce teen pregnancies by disseminating information "supported by peer-reviewed research that complies with accepted scientific methods, published in or by medical, scientific, psychological, sociological, government, or public health publications, organizations, or agencies ..."

Also derailed at the last minute was a bill that would require all elementary schools to teach cursive writing and memorization of multiplication tables.

From the birds and the bees to 9-times-9, people who haven't darkened a classroom door in decades seem to have all the answers.

Maybe we've gotten too busy splintering trees to see the forest. We're overthinking education.

Instead of more laws and more tests, we can start with some simple things, like insisting on orderly classrooms where important subjects are taught.

If things get loosey-goosey because it's the end of the year, if books already have been taken up, if movies are being shown to fill time until the last day, it shouldn't take an act of Congress to straighten things out. Common sense would do the job.

Granted, we shouldn't read too much into what a police report said was happening in a single Bluffton High School classroom. That would be unfair. But at the risk of blurring the separation of church and state, maybe we should all write a few hundred times, in cursive, "Idle hands are the devil's workshop."

Follow columnist David Lauderdale at twitter.com/ThatsLauderdale.

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