A Miniature Lesson
The last week of school can be a lot of fun for little kids since real instruction is ostensibly over. There are field days, lunches, awards days, “graduation,” and even school spirit days like crazy hair day or hat day.
In East Providence, Rhode Island last week, second graders were allowed to wear hats to school, and David Morales decided to decorate his camouflage hat with miniature toy soldiers. Unfortunately the miniature toy soldiers were holding miniature toy weapons, violating the school’s miniature – whoops – violating the school’s zero tolerance policy for weapons, miniature or otherwise. The principal suggested that David find some miniature soldiers who did not carry weapons.
To their credit, unlike many of today’s parents, David and his mom did not immediately take the district to court, but simply decided that David would wear the hat without the miniature soldiers, noting that he only had one soldier carrying miniature binoculars instead of a miniature weapon.
The retired commander of the Rhode Island National Guard had a meeting with the school administration to request that the policy be changed. In regard to the school’s request that David use unarmed miniature soldiers, the commander declared, “The American soldier is armed. That’s why they’re called the armed forces.”
Not content to leave it at that, the commander later gave the boy a military medallion on a radio talk show for his “patriotism.” He also gave the boy a certificate allowing him to call himself a brigadier general, perhaps unaware that when playing with miniature toy soldiers a kid can call himself anything he wants. Leaping onto the miniature bandwagon was the Rhode Island chapter of the ACLU, which wrote a letter to the district superintendent charging that the child’s right to free speech had been violated. The superintendent subsequently revised the school policy.
There must be a miniature lesson here, and maybe it’s this: Next year, David, just wear a plain baseball cap. Because all of the good judgment shown by some of the adults in this incident could be held in a miniature teacup.