Dress’d in a little brief authority

Most ignorant of what he’s most assur’d —

— William Shakespeare, Measure for Measure

In September, the California Legislature passed, and the governor signed, a bill forbidding public and charter schools to suspend or expel any pupil from kindergarten through eighth grade “… who disrupts school activities or otherwise willfully defies the valid authority of supervisors, teachers, administrators or school officials.”

We are told this curiosity was intended primarily to ensure that minority children would no longer dominate the disciplinary statistics. In due course, word of this shift in the authority structure from Ms. Jones to Little Miss Muffet will get to every child; from there on, things will be unpredictable.

As a confirmed pessimist, I fear that various species of pandemonium will come to flourish in more than a few classrooms. Over the long haul, this invitation to self-expression by the children could have a profound effect upon both neighborhood and charter schools.

Brassy kids are not unknown even to the chosen so-called “public” schools of California’s wealthy suburbs. Of course, this toleration of puerile rant could, and might be, taken by every child as the invitation to maturity some defenders expect it to be. As myself an enthusiastic would-be classroom agitator of the 1940s, I find that hope a bit romantic. But then I was made to pay the price of my sins, hence my restoration!

Did the governor and company consider the effect of puerocracy upon the appetite of teachers to stick it out and of would-be teachers to join the profession? There was already a certain heroism entailed in the role of these necessary people; how many who were on the brink of volunteering will choose to be bankers? Did the teacher union simply miss this reality?

What could seem equally worrisome for our doughty legislators is the reaction of those suburban public school pilgrims whose fifth-grader recounts over dinner the classroom excitements of the day. These folks may be ready to shift Susie once again – this time to a private (or home) school where class just might be more peaceful.

Such a curious outcome; the supporting union will have shot itself in the foot! Of course, it would still have the poor in their inner-city cloisters, but … well, peace be to them all.

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