By Ned Cantwell: State Columnist
Help me with this. At what point in our history did the kids take over New Mexico schools and reduce teachers to pandering servants?
Case in point. A friend invited to speak at Ruidoso High told me he saw a teacher escorting a young man to the principal’s office, being called all sorts of vile names on the way. With that attitude and that mouth, my friend figured, that kid was a goner.
Two days later, back on campus again, he was amazed to see the same loutish kid swaggering around. The animals have taken over the zoo.
It’s that way all over the state. The Albuquerque Journal’s Toby Smith wrote a superb three-part series on the ongoing battle New Mexico teachers have with disrespect, rudeness, total inattention, drugs, and threats.
Rather than continue taking the abuse, many of our finer teachers are heading for other jobs that may pay more, may pay less, but at the end of the day give them their dignity.
It must stop. Forget the “right” to go to school. It’s got to be about the “privilege” of an education. And it’s not free. Ask parents who pay the taxes.
The pendulum must swing back. Start with the dress code. School uniforms are a good idea, but it is not going to happen. So enforce some standards.
You, the kid with baggy jeans hung low over your skinny frame, we know you want to look tough. You know who you are. The one with enough denim sagging over your rear end that a family of raccoons could take up residence there. Go home and put on pants that fit.
You, too, honey. Sure you look sexy with those low-cut, tight-fitting jeans, but save the fanny show for the mall. The only skin we want to see is your little hand taking notes while a dedicated teacher gives you the stuff with which you might make something of yourself.
Come to school with the hair God gave you. If you show up with green locks tinged with orange and purple, it had better be Halloween.
Young man, if you have to wear a baseball cap, put it on with the bill pointing the same direction as your nose. And take it off in class.
We’re going to enroll a whole bunch of you in Respect 101. It will be a huge study hall set up in a tent on campus and the teacher is going to be an off-duty cop.
Here are some of you who will end up there:
• The first time we catch you on a cell phone, we’re taking the phone. Come back with another phone, and you’re out of here. Welcome to Respect 101. Text message your little heart out.
• You kids who are sleeping in class, talking back to the teacher, disrupting the attention of others who are trying to learn, off to the tent. You’ll be happier with the other slackers who don’t give a rat’s butt about getting an education.
• Finally, if you threaten a teacher or call her names, you are out of here. Don’t come back without your parents. And if they don’t really care, sorry. Your luck ran out. Our schools just can’t afford to baby-sit you any more.
Ned Cantwell is a syndicated New Mexico columnist. He welcomes feedback at: firstname.lastname@example.org