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Calling Me a Cad Doesn't Change the Truth About Purses at the High School

If you want to know who's to blame for GHS banning purses, please point a finger directly ahead and walk to the nearest mirror.

So this is where the journalistic journey ends? Not with a biting column on social injustice, racial inequity or man’s inhumanity to man, but with a piece on purses? I suppose I have to accept the fact that I’m a sexist misogynist (expletive deleted) cad.

But as I read all the responses to on banning all purses during school hours, I couldn’t help but ask myself, when did parenting become obsolete? When did your child become my problem? Yes, it takes a village, but when did it become the village’s responsibility to raise your child?

Though I’m tempted to engage in yet another hackneyed depiction of how times were different when I was growing up, there’d be no point. The parents I’m trying to reach wouldn’t see themselves in this column if you held a mirror directly in front of their faces.

To summarize, District 304 administrators had originally disallowed only , but when that caveat went unheeded, they took it that further step. But instead of teaching their daughters the life lesson that tends to come along with ignoring a reasonable rule, their mothers howled that the school was being unreasonable and they should’ve been enforcing the small bag only rule all along.

How about this? When you noticed your daughter’s heading off to high school with an enormous handbag, you could’ve chosen to say something along the lines of “You ain’t leaving the house with that monstrosity. You know the rules! Go get the smaller one.”

And when she replied that no one’s enforcing that rule, you might’ve added that you just happen to be “someone.”

To be clear, I agree with my occasional Patch compatriot Beth Bales, who aptly noted you have to pick your parental battles, the former purse-size restriction was ambiguous, and lax enforcement can present its own set of prickly problems.

But I’m not the one making a big stink about this whole thing, either. I tried to tell you that life is much better when you follow the spirit of a law, but no one listens to me. C’mon! We all know an oversized purse when we see one.

Though I’ve been the first one to take them to task over questionable decisions, GHS administrators tried to deal with this situation in logical, cooperative and level-headed manner, but it didn’t work. So what are they supposed to do? Set up a TSA checkpoint with a conveyer belt and carry-on baggage template at the main entrance?

Don’t try to tell me this is some sort of male conspiracy, either. When they enacted the ban in 2002, school administrators determined the size and weight of those backpacks were starting to injure students.

Have you ever been at GHS during passing period? The mere prospect would terrify the hardiest of NFL fullbacks. And bloated backpacks and massive purses make it that much worse.

As GHS Principal Tom Rogers told me, “It’s not just the contraband. Our classrooms were not built to handle 30 students and 30 backpacks.”

And speaking of contraband, while I’m not terribly fond of random searches, this simple step actually does make our schools a little bit safer. If I recall, you all were completely behind . Yes! A determined student will always find ways to bring in contraband, but it just got a heck of lot harder.

It’s also important to note that District 304 is not nearly the only district to implement a backpack/purse prohibition.

If it were just the purse flap that caused this collective case of conniptions, you all would be completely correct in accusing me of going Fox News on your posteriors. But this entitlement mentality goes way beyond purses.

Remember when, citing food allergy and obesity issues, District 304 put ? The uproar was so vast and swift it made anything I’ve written look mild by comparison.

told me that 70 percent of his phone calls come from parents unhappy with their son’s playing time.

Every single District 304 principal has recounted tales of parents demanding either a grade change or insisting their child be placed in the gifted program.

So the irony is, while we insist upon foisting the responsibility for raising our children upon the schools, when they finally take us up on it, we react just like we just stepped on a roofing nail.

Instead of being parents, we’re too busy teaching our little darlings that they’re never wrong about anything. We want the schools to rear our children, but only if they adhere to some vague set of unwritten rules. As one sage reader essentially said, there’s too much enabling going on.

As imperfect as they can be, District 304 came up with a simple, reasonable and logical rule, and it was ignored. So rather than waste another second of their time trying to define exactly what a large purse is, purses are no longer allowed at school.

It’s a great life lesson.

Courtney Phelan August 22, 2012 at 11:31 PM
Jeff, Have YOU ever been to GHS during passing period? It's only 5 minutes long. It's not long enough to get our stuff. The issue is that we need things during the day, and without purses or drawstring backpacks, we don't have them. It's simply going to result in unprepared students and wasted class time. I was a GHS student for three years before this, and I never heard anything about large purses. Nothing was printed in the planner about large purses. And as a token large-purse carrier, I would have noticed. But enough about me. I just have one request. Please, please, PLEASE stop insulting my parents. Clearly they have parented me better than to insult people that I have no business insulting, make crude and highly sexual comments about minors, and pick on people smaller than me. So the students of GHS, most of whom have agreed that you are incredibly insulting to our community, and I would greatly appreciate it if you took your sexist nose out of our business and stopped commenting on the horrible communications within our school. You are not a student. You are not an administrator. You are not a parent of a high schooler. Stop it. P.S. Today, I handed out two band-aids, two hair ties, three pens, and a tampon from my purse. So clearly, someone needs to carry one during the school day. Courtney Phelan
Terry Flanagan August 23, 2012 at 03:11 AM
Jeff, Considering how upset you were when the city council followed Zac Ploppert's suggestion and raised the fines on underage drinking, I would think you'd be apoplectic over the school administration spending so much time on such a minor issue. You do recall advising the city council "to stop considering sandwich boards and underage drinking and prepare yourselves for the disruptive budgetary effects of distressed properties counting toward property-tax assessments for the first time in 2012"? Now you're giving the school administration a pass, even going so far as to call tweaking with permitted purse sizes an example of reasonable policy-making, while the budgetary issues facing the school district dwarf those of the city by comparison. Had the school imposed a purse size tax, it might have at least seemed like a fiscally responsible and creative approach to discouraging overly large purses that are apparently clogging our cramped classrooms and posing a hazard to the quality of education. How are kids supposed to learn when when they can't even see the instructor over mounds of handbags? Instead, the school's actions seems like just another case of ill-advised bureaucratic excess. It certainly doesn't inspire taxpayer confidence when the school administration devotes this much time and effort to address a purse size crisis, but still can't figure out where the referendum enrollment numbers came from.
Jeff Ward August 23, 2012 at 03:19 AM
Terry, A purse size tax! I like it! Jeff
Bob Loblaw August 23, 2012 at 04:12 PM
Could it be because the enforcement is rarely objective? The substance use policy and certain athletic teams certainly comes to mind.
Jonathan Rischer August 24, 2012 at 03:10 AM
Bob Loblaw, token non-contributing troll.

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