The term "anal-retentive" had to have been invented as a description of Colorado legislators and school officials for the consequences of their policies as related in the two articles below.
From Wikipedia: "This term is often used in reference to a person seen as overly worried about small details of form, style and etiquette; who is uptight or distressed over ordinarily minor problems, and unable to adopt a philosophical attitude toward mistakes."I have put the links to two recent Bill Johnson Rocky Mountain News columns in chronological order so that you can get a sense of the story. Needless to say after you read the account, what is clearly lacking is common sense on the part of legislators who pass such 'black-and-white' laws without regard to mitigating circumstances and school district bureaucrats who have more concern for dotting every 'i' and crossing every 't' of the rules than educating young people.
Of course, we've all heard of other stories like this from around the country ... the grade schooler somewhere that was expelled for innocently putting a butter kinife in their lunch box so they could spread their peanut butter ...
Here in Colorado, or at least in the Jefferson County School District, an attitude of anal-retentive nannyism is so pervasive that I've seen children ordered to stop running on the grass because they might fall and skin a knee; I have been told that sixth graders were ordered not to trade sandwiches with a friend at lunch; and I've been informed that despite being a major employer, producing a legal product -- a Coors-identifying logo on the back of a charity t-shirt will get a kid sent home.
This moronic overreaction to the Columbine tragedy -- and that's what this is really all about -- is typical of pandering politicians and risk averse 'educrats'. It is moronic because the case related in the articles below show that good kids are victimized by authority because legislative, judicial and administrative officials feel compelled to turn "ordinarily minor problems" into great criminal prosecutions ... because they are afraid that something might happen.
In the bigger picture, this is why our public schools are doing an increasingly poor job of educating our children. There is so much emphasis on administrative 'accountablity' that CSAP testing now sucks up over a month of learning time. There is so much worry about providing a politically safe and politically correct 'educational environment' that the state legislature is now micro-managing school districts from Denver to Meeker.
More money is not the answer to the largest problems plaguing our schools -- although politicians from both parties will ALWAYS tell you that it is. The problem is that teachers are not allowed to teach nearly as much as they should be -- they are required now to do too much paperwork, they are required to prepare for too much testing, they are required to do too much social work. The state legislature tells every teacher in Colorado how to say the Pledge of Allegiance, that they have present 'anti-bullying' lessons, what kind of flags can be in a classroom, and so on and so on. And let me repeat: both Republicrats and Democans are responsible for this top-down exercise of power.
I believe most individual teachers would love to be free to creatively teach in a way that imparts real knowledge to our young people -- and that is where education reform needs to start taking place. My suggestion would be to repeal at least half of all the laws passed in the last twenty years that mandate what teachers have to do in the classroom, and the salaries of most school adminstrators should be cut in half.
Before we sink millions and millions more dollars into the schools for the same results as we have now ... maybe we ought to try a different approach?
... Sure, she'd had the purse at school, but only in her car, Jessica offered.
The knife was a relatively small one, its blade barely 3 inches long. Her father had given it to her years earlier, after she was savagely assaulted while leaving her job at a movie theater.
"I didn't even remember I had it," Jessica Bralish said, as she sat in the jail lobby. "My dad gave it to me in case a really bad thing happened and I really, really needed it."
She had not brandished it or even taken it out to show to friends. But based upon what happened next, you would think she had waved it like a sword in the school hallway, threatening everyone. ...
... Jessica Bralish's probation assessment noted that she was an A student, altar server, Bible school volunteer and young adult choir member at St. Joan of Arc Church in Arvada who never once had been in trouble.
At sentencing, Judge Brian D. Boatright indicated he wasn't about to send the girl to jail, that at most he would sentence her to home detention.
Prosecutor Ely Pierson, though, argued hard for jail time.
Scott Storey, Jefferson County district attorney, in an interview, lamented the girl's confinement, saying he had personally reviewed her case.
But the law, he said, ultimately had "tied our hands," that it was unfortunate that she became an adult as the case dragged on. ...
... Jessica Bralish turned 18 on Nov. 12.
Her father, David, 49, spent part of Monday fashioning picket signs. He carried one for about 20 minutes in front of the Jefferson County courthouse and DA's office before a sheriff's deputy stopped him, saying he needed a permit.
"No, I don't believe I deserve this," Jessica said softly as we waited. "There are a lot of people out there who have done a lot worse than I have. Still, I don't hold anything against anyone. I just want this to be over with."
Her looming incarceration had been harder on her family than on her, she confided.
In the end, Scott Storey got it right and let the little girl out of jail.
"How do you know I'm a nice guy?" the Jefferson County district attorney had barked in a Tuesday interview.
But after we both hung up the phone, the DA called the judge who'd sentenced now-18-year-old Jessica Bralish about getting her out. The judge, it turned out, needed little persuading.
More than that, Scott Storey then walked from his office to the sidewalk outside where David Bralish once again was walking back and forth, carrying a sign protesting his daughter's five-day jail sentence, and promised him he was doing everything he could to free her.
Nice or not, the DA did the right thing.
He knew the girl posed absolutely no threat to anyone, that it made no sense for her to do five days in jail for a tiny knife she had no idea was still in her purse.
Technically, Jessica Bralish was, indeed, guilty of carrying a concealed weapon at Arvada West High School, which later expelled her. Decided strictly by the books, which the DA acknowledges the sentence was, the mandatory five-day jail term was right on the money.
A blindfolded monkey snatching penalties from a bucket could mete out justice more fairly than those called for by unthinking school zero-tolerance policies and courthouse mandatory minimum rules.
Jessica Bralish walked out of Jefferson County Jail early Thursday, three full days ahead of time, wrapping her arms around her parents and pleading to go home. ...