Hands-off ?tag?? It?s a touchy subject

26 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Hands off: School district faces backlash over tag-less recess policy.

Tag was banned on the island earlier this week, with district communications director Mary Grady telling Q13 news that “… students are expected to keep their hands to themselves. After stories about the Mercer Island schools’ ban on the game of tag went viral this week, the school district would like to clarify that, no, it has not declared war on the playground game.

A school district in Washington state has taken a decisive step to protect the “emotional safety” of its children by banning them from playing tag. They’re often well-intentioned ways to cut down on violence and bullying and the like, and they’ve been driven in part by fear of school shootings. As in, the game that involves running and being tapped, which is far less than what I endure any time I take public transportation,” wrote Katherine Timpf in National Review Online. “Tag, as we know it and have known it, is reinstated,” the district said in a statement. “In addition, students may continue to play ‘flag tag’ as they wish. The rationale behind this is to ensure the physical and emotional safety of all students. “Good grief, our kids need some unstructured playtime,” mom Kelsey Joyce told the TV station. “It’s a game that practically everyone has played – but if you go to public school on Mercer Island, keep your hands to yourself. But they’ve also led to bizarre rulings — the third-grade girl in Delaware expelled for a year because her mother sent a knife in with a birthday cake, the Baltimore second-grader suspended because his Pop-Tart looked like a gun, the kids who get in serious trouble for bringing cough drops or mouthwash to school, to say nothing of Ahmed Mohamed.

Moms and dads found out when the kids came home and told them, KCPQ reported. “The Mercer Island School District and school teams have recently revisited expectations for student behavior to address student safety. Because the policies are entirely inflexible – that “zero” part – the decisions often seem like they’re made by a machine, not a human being with a sense of balance and judgment and what we used to think of as common sense. It’s important for their learning.” “He has been spending most of his recesses wandering around with his friend talking about video games, which is the last thing I want him to be doing,” said Kelsey Joyce. While striking a defensive crouch — as with any bureaucracy defending itself — the district fessed up to making a mistake, implementing a rule that wasn’t “tagged” by those it was supposed to protect. “The ‘hands off’ policy intended for unstructured play and recess, however well intended, has led to confusion, false reporting and is clearly not supported by many staff and many parents. As Ian Urbina wrote in the New York Times: Education experts say that zero-tolerance policies initially allowed authorities more leeway in punishing students, but were applied in a discriminatory fashion.

Over 330 people have already joined a Facebook group Neher created to protest the ban, a significant amount given that Mercer Island has only about 20,000 people. Although this plan was focused on keeping students safe, it lacked stakeholder participation and support,” said the district’s statement. “Each school principal will reach out to his/her parent community and staff to determine whether or not expectations during unstructured play time are well known and shared. Many studies indicate that African-Americans were several times more likely to be suspended or expelled than other students for the same offenses. “The result of those studies is that more school districts have removed discretion in applying the disciplinary policies to avoid criticism of being biased,” said Ronnie Casella, an associate professor of education at Central Connecticut State University who has written about school violence. Other districts around the nation have banned contact games and, in some cases, balls and other playground equipment, as education officials try to balance safety with playtime, said Jonathan Blasher, executive director of the nonprofit Playworks.

Our hope has always been and continues to be an expectation that students respect others’ personal space and respect their individual and unique differences.” In 2006, some Spokane elementary schools prohibited tag over concerns about student safety. “I think a game like tag is wonderful,” Blasher said. “You can play it almost anywhere, it’s universal. For all the criticism, though, most of these policies have barely budged. (In some cases, individual cases have been reversed, including the girl with the birthday cake.) But a strange dispatch from the Northwest both shows just how bad things have gotten and how a pushback against one aspect of zero-tolerance policies may be building. Around the same time, a New York school required tag games to be supervised by a teacher, while also banning balls because they could end up hurting kids. Tag is not banned.” “The school promotes competitive sports like football, which is like tag only instead of gently tagging someone and saying ‘you’re it’, students will viciously tackle their opponents,” he wrote. “Further, the school also provides for wrestling; again, considerably more violent and dangerous than a game of tag.” “The only difference I can find behind this kind of hypocrisy is that they charge students $190 per sport in order to participate (this fee was recently raised $15 ‒ perhaps that will go to counseling for the players ‒ they likely will suffer emotional damage from all the rough play, right?),” he continued. “Or perhaps the school can’t charge $190 for tag, so they’ll ban it.” Over 400 parents have joined a closed Facebook group called STAR MI (short for Support ‘Tag’ At Recess in Mercer Island Schools), which calls for the district to bring the game back to the playgrounds.

A mere shout of ‘you’re it?’ How close would the existing ‘it’ have to be to the target ‘it’ before a shout of ‘you’re it’ is permitted?” School staffs are working with students in the classroom to ensure that there are many alternative games available at recess and during unsupervised play, so that our kids can still have fun, be with their friends, move their bodies and give their brains a break. Let’s hope Mercer Island’s parents keep stirring up resistance here to the notion of “tag-like running games.” If they restore tag today, maybe schools will someday be safe again for Pop-Tarts, mouthwash and homemade clocks?

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