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Colorado

Readers — As we enter 2012, there is cause for hope, as this article shows. Legislators in Colorado, home to the Columbine massacre, are taking a new and rational look at their zero tolerance laws. These are laws that REQUIRED schools to act brainlessly and not distinguish between, say, a wooden replica of a rifle and a smoking AK47. Laws that told school administrators they’d be WRONG to treat a butter knife as a butter knife rather than as a deadly weapon. According to the website TimesCall.com:

A legislative committee moved forward with a proposal that seeks to give education officials more discretion over expulsions and police referrals, which lawmakers say became more common after the 1999 Columbine High School shootings in Littleton, where two students killed 13 people and then themselves.

Committee members said zero-tolerance policies adopted during the last decade have tied the hands of school administrators, who are forced to expel students or involve law enforcement for minor infractions.

How wonderful to untie the hands of school administrators and free them to reason rather than to blindly (over)react. If Colorado is where the Zero Tolerance Revolution began, let’s hope that this is where it begins its demise.

The proposed legislation would make expulsions mandatory only in cases of students bringing a firearm to school and would amend school discipline codes to distinguish minor infractions from violations that need police involvement. The proposal would also direct school boards to create discipline codes that limit suspensions and expulsions to cases where a student’s conduct threatens school safety.

Significantly, this new legislation is co-sponsored by a Democrat and a Republican — more proof that, rather than taking knee-jerk umbrage at something the other party suggested, people are starting to use their brains (and not, I guess, their knees). Let’s hear it for rationality, compassion and no longer overreacting to “threats” that don’t threaten our kids at all. — L.

If she brings a butter knife to school, she will no longer be considered armed and dangerous.

Oh Readers —  I can’t take it. Look at this crazy “news” story from the Cortez Journal in Colorado: An unidentified man entered a high school. He used the bathroom, left and asked some students to give him a ride, which they did.  Said the paper: 

No weapons were visible on the man, who was dressed in black, but he was carrying a black duffle bag, Cortez Police Department Chief Roy Lane said.

Despite rumors, the man was not wearing a mask or anything to conceal his face, Lane said. No one was injured, and no property damage occurred.

Is that the definition of a NON-STORY or what? And yet, get this!

Officials did not feel it was necessary to place the school on lockdown after the suspect had already vacated the premises.

In other words: If the stranger were still ON the premises, the whole place would have gone into LOCKDOWN? Furthermore:

The suspect is described as a 6-foot, thin male in his early 20s with dark brown straight hair grown over his ears.

“We’re just as concerned as the parents,” Lane said. “We  would ask anyone with information to call us. Even if they’re not sure who it is, if they think they might know, give us a call.”

SUSPECT? Suspect suspected of what? Evacuating his bladder in a bathroom? Using paper towels he did not pay for? Breathing while male? Shiver me timbers! I sure hope they catch him before he strikes again! – L.

Yiiiiiiiiiiikes!

Hi Folks — Here’s an update from Bree, the Boulder, Colo., mom who sent in her daughter’s No-Science at the Science Fair rules (see post below). Turns out Bree’s parents are living in Myanmar (formerly Burma, as in Shave, as in something you do with a sharp object that children should never get anywhere near) and they happened to visit a local  science fair. Writes Bree:

They told me that not only was EVERYTHING on this restricted list allowed, kids there were actually outperforming kids here in innovation, outlandish ideas, and actual science!!  And they don’t even have electricity, computers, or potable water!  But they were allowed not only to experiment, but also to bring those experiments into their school.

The best part – no one was hurt by plants in soil.

What a relief! And I suppose that a little knowledge turned out not to be a such dangerous thing, either. Time to tell the folks in Boulder!  Or maybe they should just start studying Burmese.– Lenore

Myanmar kids make me hoppy! PHOTO CREDIT: Meneer Zjeroen flickr.com/photos/nuskyn/ / CC BY 2.0

Hi Folks! Here’s the latest — a brilliant Chinese plot to crush America’s lead in science and technology!

Oh wait. Seems it is just one Colorado school’s list of  science fair rules. Thanks, reader Bree, for sending it in. The list:

For safety: Project displays and posters may NOT contain any of the following:

NO: Organisms (living or dead).

NO: Microbial cultures/fungi/molds/bacteria/parasites.

NO: Plants in Soil.

NO: Chemicals.

NO: Flammable Substances.

So I guess if you are doing a science experiment involving the effect of dust on a desk, you’re ok. But beyond that, it gets very tricky.  And, worse, interesting. And so it is verboten. All for the safety of the kids, of course. — Lenore

Not welcome at the fair.  PHOTO CREDIT: Meneer Zjeroen http://www.flickr.com/photos/nuskyn/ / CC BY 2.0

Hey, this is just terrific news! Eagle Place Townhomes in Colorado has lifted its ban that forbid ANY CHILD UNDER AGE 16 FROM PLAYING OUTSIDE WITHOUT ADULT SUPERVISION.

Let’s hear it for the power of the press!

An article in the Boulder Camera earlier this week highlighted the Townhomes’  bylaws that began, “While children bring such joy to our lives and we all love seeing them outside playing in their carefree world, we cannot have them unsupervised.” (Excuse me: Does that not sound EXACTLY like Dolores Umbrage in Harry Potter?)

Anyway, one a spotlight shone bright on the anti-kiddie complex, scholars (and TV news teams) started pointing out that  requiring parental supervision for all kids at all times is not even legal.  So now the complex is merely “suggesting” it.

Which, of course, is still insane. Still cover-your-you-know-what. Still a weird, sickening sign of the times — suggesting that every person under age 16 SHOULD have an adult by their side at all times. But it is LESS sickening than it was, which is why this Outrage of the Week has been demoted to, “Weird Sickening Sign of the Times of the Week.”  Woo hoo! — Lenore .

Hi Readers — It’s summer! Time for kids to run around and ride their bikes and play like puppies till the moon shoos them home.

Unless, that is, they’re living in the Eagle Place Townhomes in Lafayette, Colorado. There, no children are allowed to play outside, unsupervised, until age 16.

That’s right. No kids. Outside. Without an adult. Period.

That’s the new, written rule at the 60-home development and can you guess the reason given? Of course you can! You can recite it in your sleep! Quoth the property manager: “We just want them to be safe.”

 This article, in Boulder’s paper, the Daily Camera, details the “ghost town” the development has become. Said one dad, “It feels like prison.” Another said he has received letters from the management company saying his 5 and 8 year old kids can’t ride their scooters OR play on the grass between units OR play on the property’s playground without an adult present. Before this new rule, up to 30 kids would get together and play.

 Playing on a playground? Imagine that.

Eagle Place management even forbid a 15-year-old from reading a book on his porch swing. Talk about proactive danger management. His 12-year-old sister babysits in the complex. Now she is forbidden to take her young wards outside to play.

The impetus for all this seems to be twofold: One, management says that children are vandalizing the property. And two, recently a child got his foot stuck in an air conditioning unit and his parents couldn’t be reached. Instead, 911 was called. For this reason, management wrote in a letter to the residents, “Each time we find a child unattended they will be instructed to go home until an adult can accompany them outside.”

(The letter also said, “Children bring such joy to our lives and we all love seeing them outside playing in their carefree world.” Then comes the “but.”)

As bizarre as all this sounds, it is not the first time I’ve heard of such draconian laws. Other parents at other developments are dealing with them, too – and I’m not talking about retiree developments that specifically want nothing to do with kids. I’m talking plain old, all-American neighborhoods.

What’s terrifying is that this is what “all-American” may become: Neighborhoods so safe – at least from law suits – that the kids are locked inside or shuttled from supervised activity to supervised activity.

Of course, that sounds a lot like what America is becoming even without bylaws like the ones at Eagle Place. So much for our soaring spirit of adventure. The Eagle has, indeed, landed. It’s inside, playing videogames and  eating a Fruit Roll-Up. – Lenore