On school safety

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I read Gene Schmidt’s recent letter with some concern. On the one hand, of course we should keep our children safe in school. But on the other hand, we must continually ask of our policies: At what cost?
And what is the real goal? (It is: help children build themselves into independent, successful adults.) Over-intervention instills a culture of fear in children and can disrupt development and destroy futures.
I myself had two issues at LAHS that today would, it seems, be made into Very Big Deals, but at the time (late 90’s) appropriately were not. The first never left the classroom; I brought a flail to class as part of a presentation on the middle ages, and the teacher simply asked me to not bring it back. The second (about which I won’t go into detail in the newspaper) was dealt with internally by the high school in a firm but nurturing way and resolved.
My point is, kids need room to make stupid mistakes that don’t follow them for the rest of their lives. I am now beginning a successful career at the lab. If my two issues had been aggressively disciplined with the involvement of external authorities, as appears to be the style now, that outcome could very well have been prevented.

Reid Priedhorsky
Los Alamos