Send all the students to the ‘office’

Published 7:55 pm Tuesday, June 24, 2014

I’m from the old school and remember those dreaded words, “Go to the office!” There might have been a time when the trip was painless, but when it had that exclamation point behind it, it wasn’t good. I’m thinking San Quentin and the chair.

If my mother reads this, she might feign surprise that I was ever sent to the office, but if she would allow the truth in, she would know that her son deserved that long walk to the office of the principal. Once again, it wasn’t good.

One of the reasons that we might be sent to the office was talking back to the teacher. I didn’t do that. Another reason might be that a little spitball was shot and I got caught with the weapon, a rubber band, in my hand. That happened.

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One more reason that a teacher might send a student to the office was a lack of diligence in doing homework. In my day, homework wasn’t all that voluminous; in other words, we didn’t have all that much. But what we did have was expected to be completed.

At school, when the teacher asked for the homework, many creative excuses were given for failure to accomplish.

“Ma’am, I started to do my homework, but my pencil-sharpener wouldn’t work and there were no knives in the house.”

“Mrs. Turnbull, I was working on my homework and almost had it finished, but an isolated tornado came through the house and blew it away.”

“Mrs. Applegate, I had it with me this morning, but Freddie, on the bus, was reading it and window on the bus was open and it blew out and the bus driver wouldn’t stop and let me get it.”

Here is one not so original. “Miss Waters, the dog ate my homework.”

The Bible says, in Ecclesiastes, “There is nothing new under the sun.” That verse came to mind as the situation about the missing IRS emails came to light. The fact that the important emails from the infamous Lois Lerner are missing and irretrievable is pretty close to “The dog ate my homework.”

There are differences. We are not dealing with pencils and paper. We are dealing with modern technology. Computers have been a boon to communicating quickly and effectively. I use email as much as I use any kind of communicating these days and, yes, I have lost emails. Some were not retrievable by me.

That doesn’t mean, however, that they were not retrievable by someone. There are plenty of people who know technology better than I and, if something was really, really important to me, I would think I could get it back somehow. There is the saying, “Where there is a will, there is a way.”

The difference, it seems, between my old school and homework and the whole Washington scene is that there is no fear of being sent “to the office.” John Koskinen, besides having a name that is hard to pronounce, seems to have no fear of punishment.

To quote the Bible again, it says that “fear [of God] is the beginning of wisdom.” The fear of being sent to the office turned many a foolish activity back toward a wiser course. It’s too bad that the simple concept of a firm hand and serious consequences seems to have been lost. If we had a firm principal, we’d have a full office.