I have taught for fifty three years during which time I have seen nice men dressed in suits and women in beautiful dresses mentally abuse the minds of children. Clothes do not provide information as to the thinking or emotions of an individual. David Morales, age 8, wanted to express his feelings of pride for those who serve in our armed forces and designed a hat which contained pictures of some tiny guns. Ah, in the era of “zero tolerance,” when a six year old girl is sent home for the crime of having a plastic knife in her lunch box, what else can schools do but ban the Morales hat on grounds it is fostering hate and violence!! Superintendent Ken de Pietro finally backed down and admitted, zero tolerance can “become restrictive and cann prevent an image counter to the work of our schools to promote patriotism and democracy.”
The boys who killed at Columbine and most school killers are usually outwardly “normal” in appearance. As I always tell future teachers, never worry about the child who openly expresses his or her feelings, worry about the quiet boy and girl in class who never displays emotion. It is from them come the killers of life, not a little boy who designs a hat!!