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Friday, November 23, 2007

Sleepwalking Parents

Glenn Ivey, the State’s Attorney for Prince George’s County, recently threatened to fine parents and incarcerate them if they did not have their school age children immunized. The parents of more than 2,300 students were given until September 20th to comply with the mandate to have their children immunized or their children would be barred from class. Unbelievably, almost two months after these children were suspended, the majority of them still had not been immunized. It was not until Circuit Court Judge C. Philip Nichols ordered parents in a letter to appear at the courthouse and either get their children vaccinated on the spot or risk up to 10 days in jail that many parents complied with the vaccination requirement.


Am I the only one curious about parents who would neglect their children’s health and welfare by refusing to have them vaccinated and permitting them to remain out of school for two months? But then one must also question the oversight of a school system that did not aggressively encourage compliance with the immunization requirement within days of the students’ absences. And to add to this paradox, these school officials expect excellence from our students.

But before I stray too far off the beaten path, it is not my point to inject common sense into the matter of the childhood inoculations. In fact, I believe that Glenn Ivey and Judge Nichols have done the right thing by requiring accountability of somnambulant parents. However, I would like to see them take the same aggressive action against parents of disruptive and delinquent children. Some schools in Prince George’s County are so disorderly that teachers must spend valuable instruction time trying to bring order to the classroom.

I have visited a number of schools in the county and found them to resemble the local playground instead of an institution of learning. This type of atmosphere poisons the climate for academics and betrays the standards of excellence that our schools should promote. Teachers have been coerced into roles that they didn’t bargain for when they accepted the challenge to educate our children. Many of them have become quite adept in the classroom as referees, mentors, counselors, juries, judges, surrogate parents, butchers, bakers and candlestick makers; spending more time trying to preserve a semblance of calm to the learning environment than actually fertilizing the nimble minds that have been placed in their care.

Sometimes the government must save us from ourselves, and if a stiff fine and/or jail time for parents will motivate some to control their unruly children, then let’s baptize them so they can receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. Children who are infected with preventable childhood diseases are a risk to fellow-students and teachers, but children who distract from the learning environment through their disorderly conduct may one day grow to become a threat to every decent, law-abiding citizen in Prince George’s County.

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