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.

Max August 22, 2012 at 04:21 PM
All the inanities aside, it still comes down to the GHS Administration making a reasonable rule that they didn't bother enforcing. That's bad policy in any organization. And now GHS Admin have made an UNreasonable rule that will do more harm than good whether it is enforced or not. Whatever they are smoking in the School Board meetings that got Geneva tax payers into the horrible financial trouble we are in must be wafting into the confines of the GHS Admin offices. Some clear thinking is in order, and long over-due, at GHS.
Terry Flanagan August 22, 2012 at 04:23 PM
THe Beacon article on the Plano/Sandwich rules is interesting. People can read it here http://beaconnews.suntimes.com/news/14509109-418/sandwich-plano-are-among-area-schools-taking-stricter-stands-on-drug-alcohol-use.html. Random drug testing of 9 students will cost each of the school districts $3200 per year and students testing positive for drugs will not be allowed to participate in extra-curricular activities. Nor will students whose parents do not sign consent forms. The article discusses other behaviors that resulted in loss of privileges. School administrators claim the policy was carefully considered and discussed with students and parents. Some parents were upset with what they saw as the schools taking over parental duties. No reason was given for the policy. A lot of space was given to discussing the punishments though. There are a number of problems I see with this. One is using school as a reward/punishment system that places too much importance on extra-curricular activities. The other problem I see is the expanding role of the schools in establishing rules of conduct for studens both on and off school premises. The code of conduct for students is becoming the heftiest tome in the schools. One could almost major in student conduct guides. The amount of time that goes into creating and enforcing policy is prodigious and growing by the minute along with the roles of the schools in raising our children.
Jeff Ward August 22, 2012 at 04:32 PM
Kurt, I tried to tell soccer parents the story about the impending boss as well, but they just laughed. We'll see if they're still laughing when their "kid" is 34 and living at home. BTW, I meant to call you, your piece on Coach Barton was superb! Jeff
Jeff Ward August 22, 2012 at 04:35 PM
Jeff, I was looking over the list of folks I have to answer to; Rick Nagel, my wife, The Big Guy, Terry Flanagan... and whaddaya know! You weren't on it. If you don't get that my point has nothing to do with the rule itself by now, there's no point in continuing this part of the conversation. Jeff
Jeff Ward August 22, 2012 at 04:39 PM
Max, But why should they have to enforce it? Why can't young women choose to act like adults and, in a spirit of cooperation, simply follow a reasonable rule. And any time GHS DOES enforce a rule, folks go equally ballistic. So they're damned if they do or don't. At the same time they banned purses, administratos examined the evidence and are allowing cell phone usage outside of classrooms. Another eminently reasonable shift. Are they perfect? Far from it! But as far as who's smoking something... Jeff
Jeff August 22, 2012 at 04:40 PM
Way to go Plano! Teach your children that they must comply with whatever comes out of the unholy alliance of petty tyrant administrators and a few puritanical parents...that they are under suspicion without any evidence of wrong doing...and that resistance to a surveillance state is futile. Oh, and that parents need to pay to hire staff to craft the volumes of rules, oversee the compliance program, and manage the contractors hired to collect bodily fluids...all so that "a handful of students" in the LAST 3 YEARS can be identified as having "something" in their urine.
Colin C. August 22, 2012 at 04:45 PM
I find it interesting that we seem to be viewing this as a "modern" problem. I've had the opportunity to speak with a good many of my contemporaries about their middle and high school transgressions and have always been surprised by the number who say that they were drunk through most of high school, carried deadly weapons of one sort or another, were engaged in all sorts of dangerous behaviors including fighting, bullying, and in what we would call "very unsafe sex" from an early age. Many did any number of things that they would have been arrested for if caught. These people graduated (most of them anyway) from Batavia, Geneva, and St. Charles High Schools as well as several highly regarded private schools. We all graduated between 1954 and 1959, more or less. Some of us never made it through middle age due to addiction of one sort or another. Nothing new under the sun---again. And so much for the fabled "good parenting" of yesteryear. Different in tone? Maybe. Better? I doubt it.
Jeff August 22, 2012 at 04:52 PM
My bad Jeff! I guess when you miss the point, then a conversation is a bit much to expect from you. So noted.
Kate Bennett August 22, 2012 at 05:59 PM
The purses were a minor issue. I didn't even see anyone defending giant purses. I think most of us were more upset about the pure contempt for females that oozed from every bit of "evidence" of the manipulative whining characters we all apparently possess. I found it really amusing that you tried to claim it was "satire." Perhaps you should look up what satire is. Regardless, you basically tried to use big words to insult half the population, and then say, essentially, just kidding. You have contempt for women, it's obvious from the way you have targeted a couple of female politicians in particular, and from your "article" about purses. To me, and to many others, it seemed you used the purse issue as a way to vent about how much you hate women. Then you turned around with your lame "just kidding" excuse. You are so obviously a woman-hater that I am stunned someone actually married you. Seriously, stunned.
marsha engle August 22, 2012 at 06:40 PM
Dear Jeff, Why don't you spend your time writing about something that is important rather than beating this meaningless piece of journalism any further. I say that if our biggest problem is the size of purses, we have a good thing going at GHS. Enough.
Terry Flanagan August 22, 2012 at 07:04 PM
Kurt, It amazes me to this day that despite not having cell phones, Twitter, Facebook, and a host of other social networks, that when we did get in trouble at school or in the neighborhood, our parents already had the full story from at least a dozen sources before we got home. I grew up in the city where the back porch network rivaled anything Apple or Google have come up with. From the stories I've heard here, Geneva had a very effective home-grown network too.
Jeff Ward August 22, 2012 at 07:12 PM
Marsha, Marsha, Marsha, The purses are just the symptom - they're not really what I'm writing about. It's the constant abrogation of parental responsibility combined with children who can apparently do no wrong. It's the fact that these young women and their entitled mothers are going so nuts over this that makes it worth writing about. Jeff
Jeff Ward August 22, 2012 at 07:22 PM
Kate, Let's see! I've written that Trader Joe's should take the metal from those kiddie shopping carts and turn it into a cage for kids so I can shop in peace. In regards to Tiger Woods, I've written that I'm shocked any golfer was man enough to have 14 mistresses because golf isn't a real sport. And you probably don't wanna know what I've written about some local politicians. So what you're saying is, just like your average Republican who can't be bothered with conjuring up a single original thought, you can make your final pronouncement about me after reading one column. And I'm surprised someone married me too - just not for the same reasons! When my wife, WHO ACTUALLY HAS A SENSE OF HUMOR, read that column, she said, "Yeah! If you're (men) stupid enough to let us get away with all that stuff, then don't blame us." It was the perfect comeback. I would encourage some readers to look into purchasing a sense of humor, you might actually enjoy it. Jeff
Jon Paul Sapsford August 22, 2012 at 07:26 PM
Children who can do no wrong? They're having their period, how is that wrong, sparky? Holy cow you're a woman hater. How many girls did you get dumped by to grow this level of bitterness toward them? They're school girls, Jeff. Pick on someone your own size for once.
Jeff Ward August 22, 2012 at 07:30 PM
Jon, Get a grip! I'm talking about parents who think their children can do no wrong - not the kids. I'm talking about the parental/student response to the purse ban and not the actual ban. Kids will test limits - that's exactly what they're supposed to do. Jeff
marsha engle August 22, 2012 at 07:31 PM
Jeff, You need some parenting. Enough.
Kate Bennett August 22, 2012 at 07:35 PM
Jeff, Failing to find your "humor" funny, doesn't mean I don't have a sense of humor. It means I don't think you are funny. And I also don't think you were joking. I have read more than one piece of your writing, so maybe you want to watch your assumptions about me after reading nothing more than a couple of my comments? Let me guess, Tosh.0 proposing that a woman who heckled him should be gang raped was also something I should have found funny. Basically, a whole lot of women seem to have found your article offensive. The article in which you mocked and ridiculed teenage girls, and their mothers. And your response is "Hey! Take a joke! Really, this was about purses." Weak. Just really weak. Kate
Kate Bennett August 22, 2012 at 07:56 PM
Wait, Jeff. Is it that kids will test limits because that's what they do, or that the school shouldn't have to enforce the rule because kids should act like adults and follow the rule?
Jeff Ward August 22, 2012 at 08:01 PM
It's both - obviously!
Jeff August 22, 2012 at 08:46 PM
oh, so it's not the purses. And it's not the rule you are writing about. It's not the kids...it's the parent, then? Who are these parents who constantly abrogate their duties, Jeff? Do you know them personally or are they just 'straw people' created to populate Ward's World? I see you dancing but I don't hear any music.
Jeff Ward August 22, 2012 at 08:52 PM
Dear Readers, I've expounded on these thoughts in a blog piece entitled, "I Won't Back Down." You can read it for yourself here: http://thefirstward.net/. Jeff
Jon Paul Sapsford August 22, 2012 at 09:14 PM
Jeff, is that your response to everyone who questions you? Are you that insecure? Besides, you didn't answer my questions. How many women dumped you to make you this bitter toward them. And, how is it parents believing their kids do no wrong when their kids have their period? Since when is that wrong?
Jeff Ward August 22, 2012 at 09:16 PM
Another Republican!
Laurie Grant August 22, 2012 at 09:31 PM
Oh my gosh Jeff - now you are going to make this a political debate with your average Republican reference? Good golly! Word to the wise - DONT FEED THE TROLL!
Kate Bennett August 22, 2012 at 11:03 PM
Certainly not going to feed it blogclicks..
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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