Monday, November 22, 2004


Here’s something nice: the Greenville (S.C.) public schools are putting in place a new policy -- Profanity-Free School Zones.

Despite efforts to date, students are still cursing and generally using speech that reflects the coarsening of the culture. Currently, if a student is caught cursing, he or she is called into the office or gets a phone call home. Bad or recurring cases result in a suspension or a recommendation for expulsion.

But as teachers all know, the vast majority of the cursing just goes on unhindered. It’s to the point where staff and students alike are sometimes unaware of it, they’ve become so accustomed.

Our daughter Neely, now a college sophomore, was becoming increasingly incensed about the profanity in her upper-level English courses, especially a Vietnam War first-person book which repeatedly had the ''f'' word. In her quiet, determined way, she led student discussions about how unnecessary that word was and that whole book was, since there were Vietnam vets in our community who could come in and give a MUCH more appropriate account of their feelings, sans profanity. I think both the teacher and the students appreciated her courage in facing the matter, and I do think the book got lost after that semester.

But it's sad that it takes a KID to get it done. No wonder there's so much interest in homeschooling.

Well, those South Carolina schools are doing two smart things about this issue:

1. They’re making their own staff members clean up their acts.

2. They’re changing the school environment, which means they’re taking a long, hard look at their own curriculum. There is profanity aplenty in the assigned books from senior year on down to grade school. It’s pretty hard to maintain decorum in the halls when the same words are right there in your textbooks.

How about it, Nebraska schools? With a few exceptions in which the coarse speech is necessary to the literary purpose of the work, I’d say there’s a whole *$%&(@^ bunch of profanity in the assigned reading in Nebraska schools, from what I’ve seen.

If we’re on Coach Callahan’s case so hard for using the ‘’f’’ word, we’d better make sure it’s not in our K-12 playbook, too.

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