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Students Banned From Bringing Pencils To School 426

mernilio writes "According to UPI: 'A Massachusetts school district superintendent said a memo banning sixth graders from carrying pencils was written without district approval. North Brookfield School District interim Superintendent Gordon Noseworthy said Wendy Scott, one of two sixth-grade teachers at North Brookfield Elementary School, did not get approval from administrators before sending the memo to all sixth-grade parents, the Worcester Telegram & Gazette reported Thursday. The memo said students would no longer be allowed to bring writing implements to school. It said pencils would be provided for students in class and any students caught with pencils or pens after Nov. 15 would face disciplinary action for having materials 'to build weapons.'"


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Students Banned From Bringing Pencils To School

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  • by assemblerex ( 1275164 ) on Wednesday November 24, 2010 @10:21AM (#34330644)
    Sure why not when I could just break a chair leg off and bludgeon someone.
    • by Abstrackt ( 609015 ) on Wednesday November 24, 2010 @10:24AM (#34330692)
      I'm not sure a sixth-grader has the arm strength required for such a feat. What I'm curious about though, is why the teacher felt this memo was necessary in the first place; TFA doesn't mention this.
      • by daid303 ( 843777 )

        I'm not sure a sixth-grader has the arm strength required for such a feat.

        I managed to break/take apart just about anything at that age (and still do). Don't underestimate them.

        • by neokushan ( 932374 ) on Wednesday November 24, 2010 @10:35AM (#34330862)

          I was able to completely dismantle a cot while still being young enough to actually sleep in it.

          • Same here. (Score:3, Funny)

            by Anonymous Coward
            I dismantled my crib when I decided I wanted to upgrade. Brought the thing out in pieces to my poor, shocked, aghast mother.
          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by karnal ( 22275 )

            I initially read your post as "dismantle a cat"

            until I read the "being young enough to actually sleep in it" did I realize I was in error.

            • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

              I initially read your post as "dismantle a cat"

              until I read the "being young enough to actually sleep in it" did I realize I was in error.

              Maybe it was a large cat and an ill-advised attempt to recreate the Tauntaun scene.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Ogive17 ( 691899 )
          My mom had to pay someone to put her sewing machine back together after I was left alone with it for about 20 minutes at 3 years of age... twice.

          No point in take the leg off a chair, just use the entire chair as a weapon.
      • by ronocdh ( 906309 ) on Wednesday November 24, 2010 @10:44AM (#34331002)

        What I'm curious about though, is why the teacher felt this memo was necessary in the first place; TFA doesn't mention this.

        When I was in grade school, we used to fling sharpened pencils like crossbow bolts, using several rubber bands for higher tension. It wasn't uncommon to draw blood from these toys... and there would be quite a firefight whenever the teacher turned his or her back toward the class to write on the board. So, I think that's why the summary mentions "materials to build weapons," but it's still a stupid idea to ban pencils.

      • by xaxa ( 988988 )

        In reception class (age 5) we wrote with those thick (1cm) artists pencils.

        On the first day of Year 1, age 5-and-a-bit-more, the teacher explained that since we were now big boys and girls we could write with thin pencils, and put a box on every desk. The boy opposite me took one, stood up, walked round to me, and stuck it up my nose. I remember having a bad nosebleed, but fortunately nothing worse. The boy was forced to use a thick pencil for some time.

        This has nothing to do with personal pencils or sixth

      • by PitaBred ( 632671 ) <slashdot@@@pitabred...dyndns...org> on Wednesday November 24, 2010 @10:46AM (#34331032) Homepage

        If you take apart the cheap-ass Bic mechanical pencils, use a rubber band in a slit in the eraser and then wrapped to the pencil clip, you have yourself a pocket "gun". [instructables.com]

        I'm betting the teacher was tired of that.

        • Oh! You posted a link about building a gun. I'm telling!

          Mr. Malda!
          Mr. Malda!
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by GooberToo ( 74388 )

          Bic pens make the perfect blow gun. The dart is created with nothing more than a sewing pin and thread. Use a dot of glue if you want the thread "features" to stay attached for multiple uses.

          This works well enough to launch a dart roughly 15-20 feet, hard enough to stick in black boards. Obviously it can stick in people and poses a serious risk to eyes!

          Erasers make the perfect place to stow those darts while not in use.

          Extreme caution should be used when shooting ceiling tiles as a miss may result in the po

      • by Chrisq ( 894406 ) on Wednesday November 24, 2010 @10:48AM (#34331068)

        What I'm curious about though, is why the teacher felt this memo was necessary in the first place; TFA doesn't mention this.

        Isn't it obvious, they're worried about weapons. If they bring in pencils they have graphite. All they need to do is purify uranium and they can use this to moderate an atomic pile. Next thing they will have weapons-grade plutonium.

      • by rwa2 ( 4391 ) *

        Heh, my wife got in trouble for sending home a similar "unauthorized memo", saying that if they felt the gang violence at school was too dangerous, they should stay home.

        This was after several kids got knives and guns pulled on them by the library... and somewhat after some gangstas pulled a fire alarm to distract administration while they had a little gangwar to beat up some kids behind the school. She went to the administration first, a few days later the security guy gives the kids a self-defense semina

      • Correction - some 20 Caveman-Build 6th graders have the strength for this. There's a reason they pwned recess.

      • My assumption is that she had an issue in her class with students using pencils in ways that were unexpected by the manufacturers. Remembering fondly my middle school years, I have no doubt this is the case. Hell, remembering my high school years, I have no doubt this is the case. My classmates found all sorts of unique "uses" for writing implements and other school supplies.

        PS. Can we stop linking to articles which include sentences such as "Wendy is too uptight, one night with me she will loosen up, and s

    • Whoa, you're right about that! We need to ban wooden chairs immediately. I'd glad that someone is thinking about the children. Thank you for your patriotism, citizen.
    • Why take the trouble to break off a leg when using the whole chair is almost as effective? Even most student desks nowadays are light enough to be effective, if rather awkward, weapons.

      But this is little more than the next logical step proceeding forward from a paralyzing, irrational fear of weapons and conflict.

    • You know, I remember having conversations exactly like this in sixth grade. "Anything can be a weapon! Heck, my pencil could be a weapon!"

      I'm assuming the teacher overheard such a conversation, and decided to react in the classic way that only a buffoon can.

      • by lgw ( 121541 ) on Wednesday November 24, 2010 @11:26AM (#34331798) Journal

        I rememeber a classmate bringing a (sharp) sword to class to show off to his friends. No one made a stink about it, becasue he was unlikely to shoot anyone with it. We just weren't scared back then. There was occasional serious violence, which was briefly interesting, but we just went on with life.

        When did everyone become so afraid of everything?

        • by Kozar_The_Malignant ( 738483 ) on Wednesday November 24, 2010 @12:24PM (#34332822)
          At my high school during deer and duck seasons in the fall, there were enough rifles and shotguns in the student parking lot to start a small war. There was also an ethic that said using anything but your fists in a fight was the ultimate cowardly act. Sadly, neither of those is true today. Now, get off my lawn.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 24, 2010 @10:21AM (#34330648)

    The pen is mightier than the sword.

    • by Rolgar ( 556636 ) on Wednesday November 24, 2010 @11:15AM (#34331566)

      Sean Connery: I've got to ask you about the Penis Mightier.

      Alex Trebek: What? No. No, no, that is The Pen is Mightier.

      Sean Connery: Gussy it up however you want, Trebek. What matters is does it work? Will it really mighty my penis, man?

      Alex Trebek: It's not a product, Mr. Connery.

      Sean Connery: Because I've ordered devices like that before - wasted a pretty penny, I don't mind telling you. And if The Penis Mightier works, I'll order a dozen.

      Alex Trebek: It's not a Penis Mightier, Mr. Connery. There's no such thing!

      Nicholas Cage: Wait, wait, wait.. are you selling Penis Mightiers?

      Alex Trebek: No! No, I'm not.

      Sean Connery: Well, you're sitting on a gold mine, Trebek!

    • by srobert ( 4099 )

      Ohhh! 'pen' '__' 'is'. Now I get it.

  • Wrong headline (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Sonny Yatsen ( 603655 ) * on Wednesday November 24, 2010 @10:22AM (#34330664) Journal

    Maybe it's me, but isn't the proper headline "Students NOT banned from bringing pencils to school"?

    After all, the district said that the teacher sent the memo without permission of the superintendent and that it did not reflect district policy. So we got an overzealous and whacked out teacher, which is certainly not news.

    • by eln ( 21727 ) on Wednesday November 24, 2010 @10:33AM (#34330830)
      Sure, then the district disciplines this teacher for excessive nuttery and everyone goes back to their day to day lives. Several weeks later, some kid stabs another kid with a pencil on the way to school and the victim ends up with a piece of graphite permanently lodged under his skin. Now you have someone with a PERMANENT DISFIGUREMENT because this teacher's sage warning wasn't heeded. That kid becomes a poster child for our schools' failure to keep our children safe, and before you know it we have the TSA moving in and strip-searching the kids to look for pencils before they can enter the school building. Meanwhile, the disciplined teacher goes on to a successful career as a security consultant working with the Department of Homeland Security to help prevent future attacks using graphite-based WMDs (Writing implements of Minor Disturbance). After that, it's only a matter of time before the Department of Education gets absorbed into the DHS.

      All of this could have been avoided if we had just taken this warning seriously and immediately banned all sharp writing implements from schools. All pencils and pens should be replaced with nice blunt magic markers. For math classes or other times when frequent erasing is needed, they can use an Etch-a-Sketch (tm). This seems like a minor sacrifice to ensure the safety of our children.
      • by xaxa ( 988988 )

        I have some graphite permanently lodged under my skin. It's been there since I was 15. In a pretty relaxed lesson someone on the other side of the room said "catch, Xaxa". I didn't catch it very well, and the over-sharpened tip hit my hand. I couldn't get the graphite out then, let alone now.

        I've assumed it's not dangerous.

      • by wwphx ( 225607 )
        The Teaching Safety Administration?
    • So we got an overzealous and whacked out teacher, which is certainly not news.

      That is what Slashdot is all about . . . good, clean, wholesome fun for the family . . . let's get outraged at news, that isn't news!

  • First stab! (Score:4, Funny)

    by ArsenneLupin ( 766289 ) on Wednesday November 24, 2010 @10:22AM (#34330670)
  • Promotion ! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by burgessms ( 464499 ) * on Wednesday November 24, 2010 @10:24AM (#34330690) Homepage

    A warm welcome to the future head of TSA.

  • Trustworthy (Score:4, Insightful)

    by The MAZZTer ( 911996 ) <<megazzt> <at> <gmail.com>> on Wednesday November 24, 2010 @10:24AM (#34330698) Homepage

    Wendy is too uptight, one night with me she will loosen up, and she might even provide the students with switchblades.

    Yeah, THIS site is a respectable, trustworthy source of news.

  • Ok, seriously seriously. I ask this honest question: Is a big percentage of American people really stupid and paranoid like that? Students can't bring pencils to schools? What should they bring, then, their PSPs?
    • It's not the district, it's not the administrators, it's just one teacher who sent it off without permission. Let's not judge all Americans by a singular nutcase.

    • by jav1231 ( 539129 )
      Understand that progressives have long held our academic system hostage and thus our children. Political Correctness is the first consideration of any policy in the public school system as a result. Most parents, and the general public, look at these policies with disgust. However, most people can't afford to pull their kids out of public school (unfortunately) and the teachers union has a strong lobby that keeps idiots like this dumb broad in her position no matter what she does. So you have a system that
    • by morcego ( 260031 )

      Is a big percentage of American people really stupid

      Not exactly. A big percentage of people (everywhere) is stupid. Don't single out americans.

  • Pencils are certainly dangerous weapons, and books are hazardous too. I suggest a technical approach to child safety. Encase each child in a special pod that takes care of feeding and waste while connecting their minds to a central instruction program that provides enhanced virtual instruction. The excess body heat could even be recovered to provide energy to the school.
  • Students really should be hog tied and gagged. This will stop them from using their bodies as weapons (fists, feet, teeth, sheer mass pushing another mass, etc). Also, put each child into a little divider/cubicle so none of them can give "evil glances" that might emotionally harm another student. Completely immobilize and segregate each child, no harm can be passed from one to another!
  • But North Brookfield is too cowardly to use either
  • Sure why not when I could just break a chair leg off and bludgeon someone.

    You let your pupils sit!, in chairs?!?!? When I was a schoolboy, our classroom was in a paper bag, by the side of the road . . . etc.

  • Sometimes, the line between a school and an airport with a looming terror phobia is paper thin.

  • that I lived in the US, but have you completely lost your minds ? Have you become so paranoid that kids with pencils are a threat ?

    Imagine, 1000 kids, each with 10-20 pencils ... OMG A weapon of mass destruction :)

    • Yes, all sanity has been lost. I'm waiting for Emperor Palpatine to take office any day now; he will surely save us from this and provide safety to all.
  • ... and ban students from schools. But then hordes of them will be hanging out on the streets, sharpening their pencils, and finding some trouble to get themselves into . . .

  • Yet another FINE example of intellectually stunted individuals being put in a position of educating our children.
    And another FINE example of said intellectual amoeba eschewing proper channels, or even common sense in implementing something that's utterly pointless and only generates an aura of fear and distrust in what is, ostensibly, an educational institution.

  • ... the pen(cil) is mightier than the sword after all.
  • I herd the TSA has offered the school to install full body scanners at the gates. Apparently a class room was almost hijacked the other week by six year old terrorists carrying sticks of grey plasticine and safety scissors.

  • by hey! ( 33014 ) on Wednesday November 24, 2010 @10:46AM (#34331036) Homepage Journal

    So much so that they'd rather take some dudgeon mongering website's word for what happened than to google the original sources and find out this is a non-story. Well, I don't mind being wet blanket, so I did it for you.

    If you must know, a couple of sixth grade teachers got fed up with students playing with toy pens, then losing them and disrupting the class looking for them. So they decided to ban student owned writing instruments altogether, but rather than come right out and tell parents that their kids are badly behaved, they used a pen modified by one of the students to shoot spitballs as an excuse for the ban. Since using a writing instrument as a "weapon" conjures images of students stabbing each other in the eye with a pencil, that naturally garnered a lot more attention than the teachers expected. The acting superintendent stepped in, reversed the policy and wrote a memo explaining everything and suggesting everybody calm down.

    But of course the story of a couple of beleaguered teachers being too timid to tell parents they'd raised a mob of brats isn't as much fun for people who like to complain about the nanny state.

    • by GodfatherofSoul ( 174979 ) on Wednesday November 24, 2010 @01:54PM (#34334368)

      I worked in a high school for 2 years. Parents don't want to hear that they're kids are brats. They want any evidence they can get to rationalize the myth that poor teachers are the problem with our education system. One quick story...

      The junior class at the school was turning into a bunch of fuck-ups. Poor academics, drugs, mediocre sports performance, etc. So, the principal who was a really good guy calls an assembly, sends *ALL* the teachers out except for the VP and has a "man-to-man" talk with the whole junior class. He basically told them they were screwing up their lives and needed to straighten up before they've ruined their opportunity there. Well, all the kids run home and tell exaggerated...scratch that flat out lies about what he said to them. Saying he called them worthless, stupid, etc. This caused an uproar with all the parents bitching to the administration for daring to suggest that their sweet little babies could be anything short of Sainthood-candidates. I'd been working at the school for a while at this point and I knew the deal, and I was a computer lab tech. Kids would come in all the time to hang out during breaks. So, I'd get the lowdown from them and surreptitiously steer them into telling me *exactly* what he said. Of course, it was quite different from the cry baby story they all ran home and told mommy and daddy. And, that's our education system in microcosm. Parents sending less disciplined children to school to be simultaneously educated and parented because so many of them aren't getting the job done at home.

      Coincidentally, about 10 years later I found out a friend had attended that school when I struck up a conversation with her mother. Just to reinforce the point, her daughters were habitual skippers (though they did get their acts together). But, she blamed the principal when he threatened police action (I never knew you could be charged with this!) if she didn't get her girls to start coming to classes. Kind of sad to hear her mother saying this, because her daughter was really hot too (really turned me off on the girl after seeing that side of her family).

  • Are they going be like banks and chain pens to desk's?

    whats next no forks or spoons in the lunch room?


  • Take a couple rulers, one with that groove in the middle and the holes. Add some braided rubber bands and a firing mechanism using the holes, and you have a quite dangerous pencil crossbow.

  • Who writes in pencil in sixth grade anyway. I recommend they all bring in a pen. [ammoland.com] }B^>

    D@mn, people.


    Johnny is staying home from school today principal, he told me, "My body is a weapon."

  • I have to admit there's a "dark passenger" part of me that loves this shit, and thinks the people of this country deserve every damned scan, grope and pencil ban that the government can dump on them. Is that wrong? It's not a big part, but it's there.

  • It was also retracted more or less immediately - http://www.telegram.com/article/20101116/NEWS/101119746 [telegram.com]

    As TFS says, it was just a single teacher...

  • by RichiH ( 749257 ) on Thursday November 25, 2010 @11:01AM (#34342588) Homepage

    Dunno, when I was in school, I had at least one knife on me every single day for most of my school years. Plus lighters and a torch.

    End result? Teachers came to me instead of walking down to the main teacher's lounge when they needed to cut anything or start the Buthane in Chemistry.

    Now I am working. And I carry a Victorinox Swiss Tool while doing desk work.

    So yah, ban all them weapons!!!111

Q: How many IBM CPU's does it take to execute a job? A: Four; three to hold it down, and one to rip its head off.