A Chicago elementary school teacher is being charged with possessing a weapon at school after he was teaching his class about garden-variety tools and displayed a box-cutter and small pocket knife to students, according to The Rutherford Institute.
The story, which was brought to our attention courtesy of Knife Rights, is an example of the “zero tolerance” policy gone too far. The public school teacher was giving a lesson to his second graders on “tool discussion,” which is part of the curriculum, when he showed the class examples of such tools as a 2.25-inch pocket knife, box cutter, screwdriver, pliers and wrench.
There’s no doubt it could have been a potentially dangerous and irresponsible situation if he passed them around to students, but he kept them out of students’ hands and merely displayed them as part of the lesson. Doug Bartlett, a 17-year veteran teacher, now faces strict disciplinary action and even possible termination because of his thorough lesson on widely used tools.
Attorneys of the Rutherford Institute, which is a strong advocate of free speech and constitutional rights, sent a letter insisting that disciplinary action against Bartlett be stopped immediately.
Here’s an excerpt from a press release by the institute:
“The charges against Doug Bartlett are absurd—a gross overreaction to a simple teaching demonstration—and underscore exactly what is wrong with zero tolerance policies in the schools,” said John W. Whitehead, president of The Rutherford Institute. “School officials should know better than to impose such draconian punishments for innocent actions. Commonplace, basic tools such as wrenches and pliers used as part of a classroom exercise are clearly not weapons. Education truly suffers when school administrators exhibit such poor judgment and common sense.”
The teacher was doing everything he was supposed to and even demonstrated the proper way to use each tool, instead of simply ignoring their existence. When these students find these types of tools, they will know exactly how to use them and won’t use them dangerously thanks to Bartlett. Now, he is being punished for teaching proper usage of tools.
As the outcry for civil rights advocates gets more intense, it’s still unforeseen whether he will be punished or not.