William M. Briggs

Statistician to the Stars!

Educators Disease Reaching Epidemic Levels, Experts

If you think this is a gun, you probably have Educators Disease. Contact a health professional immediately.

If you think this is a gun, you probably have Educators Disease. Contact a health professional immediately.

Mr X is a principal at the Martin Elementary School in New Kensington, Pennsylvania (his name is not being released under medical orders). Up until last week Mr X was as normal as any other low-level official of minor authority.

That is, until Darin Simak, 7, came to school with a Nerf dart thrower in his backpack. Little Simak brought the toy to the principal’s office, perhaps thinking it would be fun to Show & Tell. But what happened next has mental health authorities across the nation deeply concerned.

Mr X suspended Simak and threatened to have the boy removed from the school for one year.

Mr X insisted the harmless toy was “a weapon”, and informed onlookers that the school had a “zero-tolerance policy” for guns. Eyewitnesses say Mr X was told that the toy was not a gun, but Mr X persisted in his fantasy. “I’m only following official procedure,” he is reported to have said.

Dr Hugo Hackenbush of the Standish Sanitarium said that Mr X’s condition was not unusual. “A hundred years ago Educators Disease was virtually unheard of. There were scattered reports in Utopian communes like the Oneida Community, but the public never heard of them. Now a week doesn’t go by without another case being diagnosed.”

Dr Hackenbush warned that the disease was highly contagious. “It spreads by contact,” he said.

Proof of that was had in the Simak case. After Mr X lapsed into his condition, he called on John Pallone, New Kensington-Arnold School District superintendent, who probably contracted Educators Disease from Mr X. His case is, however, mild.

“He didn’t have prolonged contact with Mr X, which is what probably saved him. Mr Pallone would only say ‘No comment’ when asked about Simak,” said Dr Hackenbush. “Whereas an unaffected individual would have laughed off the incident and admitted that non-weapons aren’t weapons.”

Professor Otis B. Driftwood of Milan and New York has made a career studying the disease. “There is no cure. Nothing in the pharmacopoeia has had the least impact,” he said. “There are some intriguing results with nicotine, which seems to act as a restorative in some of the patients. Unfortunately, part of the manifestation of the disease is an unreasoning, pathological horror of tobacco. We can’t get near most of the patients without they turn violent.”

Current theory suggests educators contract an incipient form of the disease at college, where educators are found in concentration. “It’s like how the methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA bacterium, is found in hospitals. With MRSA, no amount of scrubbing with alcohol and ammonia eradicates the bug, which isn’t surprising because hospitals are after all where sick people go. And universities are where educators go. It’s a bad situation.”

“Educators probably are infected by the second or third year at university,” said Captain Jeffrey Spaulding, MD, of the US Army Africa Corps. “But the disease lies dormant in most people, until it is activated by some environmental trigger.”

He said that triggers have included sharp pencils, drawings of airplanes, erasers of unusual shape. “There was even an incident where an educator saw a Pop-tart with a bite out of it and swore that it was a weapon. That case was so bad the individual involved had to be institutionalized,” he said.

“Prognosis is good if we can remove the patient from the classroom,” said Dr Hackenbush. “We had one patient who had nearly parted completely from his sanity after at school he saw one young boy pointing at another young boy while saying, ‘Bang!’. But after seven months in the Sanitarium, removed from even a hint of teaching materials, he has stopped foaming at the mouth when shown a picture of a drawing of stick that vaguely resembles a pistol.”

Captain Spaulding said common symptoms are hysteria, in men a loss of manhood resulting in an almost complete feminization, unreasoning severity in mood and attitude, incoherence, a rapid slide into bureaucratic insistence on form and rules for the rules’ sake.

“If you see somebody you suspect has Educators Disease, call 911 immediately. Do not approach the individual. The danger of contamination is too high,” recommended professor Driftwood.

The consensus of the profession is that, as Dr Hackenbush said, “Parents should be extremely careful. Best thing to do is to remove your boys to a safe distance—those with Educators Disease rarely attack girls. Home schooling, or enrollment in a parochial or all-boys school where educator screening methods are superior, are your best hopes.”

34 Comments

  1. Briggs

    June 10, 2014 at 8:18 am

    I’d say horse feathers to doctor Hackenbush. Girls are attacked, too.

    Here’s a story about a girl attacked by a sufferer of educators disease: Honor student charged with 2 felonies for making a volcano as science experiment.

  2. This is so much fun to read.

    I wonder what our friendly (p < 0.05) neighborhood Scientific Ethicist has to say about this disease?

  3. Anyone with a highly divergent (creative) thought process can think of some very creative weapons using paperclips, rubber bands and components of a regular pen. Throw in a few available chemicals from the restrooms and you are set. Those singular items are not weapons. The intent in relation to risk is the weapon.

    The intent was not to create ‘killer’ volcanos or Poptarts.
    I suggest this illness is a subcategory of a broader fatal affliction. For example, a boss of mine who flipped out because someone had the newspaper ads section with *gulp* women in underwear and swimsuits.

    Or the time my office went into a panic because someone walking by thought I had a cigarette in my mouth (pen) and alerted officials…which stopped all work for an hour. My list of examples is a long one.

    – The disease has progressed (regressing in time) beyond the 70’s controls of 5 years in jail for a single pot seed on a car floorboard.
    – It has progressed beyond the morality clauses of the 40’s and 50’s and shame premarital pregnancy (quick, get your abortion before anyone finds out).
    – It has progressed beyond Prohibition to the extreme. It has progressed beyond Puritanism and reached into recesses of Monarchial controls.

    While they avoid any comparison to morality censorship, their censorship is worse because it is hidden behind “we are protecting you” (but are unable to demonstrate any success) “we know what’s best” (and will fake the numbers to prove it)…and we will make laws to enforce OUR ideas. Control is Our Moto and we throw temper tantrums to prove it.

  4. Briggs

    June 10, 2014 at 10:39 am

    All,

    Possible explanation? Earth may have passed through the Estrogena Anomaly?

    Video link.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b-WBKah3uwg

  5. When I was in college the education majors were notorious for being the dumbest students and the psychology majors for being the most screwed up mentally. Looks like the education majors have now taken the psych majors place.

    BTW, your enemies strike again.
    “We can’t get near most of the patients without they turn violent.”

  6. “Unfortunately, part of the manifestation of the disease is an unreasoning, pathological horror of tobacco.”

    May I suggest that they try the newest, wholly natural, and totally not a gimmick, painkiller to hit the drug market: “medical” marijuana?

    Apparently, those who have contracted malum magistra do not have reactions to marijuana, and in fact, often praise it for its “health” benefits.

    What’s really strange is that when you ask them what those benefits might be, they always tell you that it relieves pain, yet they stare dumbly when you mention that there are safer, less addictive, and more effective painkillers already available on the prescription market…

  7. Hooray for the Carol Burnett video–one I haven’t seen before… Is it possible to show this in one of the many “wymn’s study” course now so popular?

  8. Luckily, of the thousands and thousands of schools out there, this kind of thing only happens once in a while. But then, where would silly, simple-minded , broad attacks on institutions be without anecdotes?

    By the way – parochial and many private schools do not background check their teachers nearly as thoroughly as the public schools. Part of the problem too, if you ask me, but you guys leave that out.

    JMJ

  9. JMJ, your comment needs some fact checking. Our Parochial school does background checking not only on teachers, but on anyone who comes in to do volunteer work. The same clearance is required as for public schools. And the same is true at the private school where my son teaches.

  10. I should add that this background check is required in the Dioceses of Harrisburg and Philadelphia. Can you name any Dioceses where a background check is not required?

  11. I am possibly unduly irritated when people make knee-jerk comments, unfounded by facts, against the institutions of the Church…. But then, given the main-stream media, what else can one expect?

  12. BRIGGS,

    You’ve, partly, missed one of your own points with this essay. Please refer to something you wrote [probably years ago] along the lines of ‘you might be a pedophile’ where you noted the logic of the illogical fear of all adults in the vicinity of a playground “might” be a pedophile, an irrefutable logical concern, being acted out in England or thereabouts where all adults needed a background check (or something like that).

    The “disease” discussed in this latest essay is driven, partly, by the same factor — namely, someone “might” be concerned/distraught/anxious when some other kid starts playing with a toy gun (however crude). It’s not just the stuff you mention here, its also an overreaction to the imagined concern of some prospective somebody else that needs to be coddled by nipping the cause of that potential concern ‘in the bud’ by overreacting to some kid’s harmless hi-jinx.

    Your observations here would be greatly enhanced if combined with the core essence of that other piece you did.

  13. The general problem with boys is that they’re boys. The now P-12 (P is for pre-K, the poor things; through no fault of their own, they have been sentenced to an additional year of schooling) is designed to drum out any sense of boyness out of the boy.

    That said, when I was young (go ahead and cue the violins), especially on the last day of school, many of the males of the species brought (i.e., smuggled) in squirt guns and water balloons. That last day was a battle royal between the boys and the teachers (who confiscated “loaded” weapons; if your gun was dry, you could likely keep it). That was the punishment–the offender lost a 25-cent piece of plastic. (This was before the “super-soakers”, which I can see would cause much more havoc; but then again, the big guns are much harder to tuck into one’s sock.) No one was suspended. No one was detained. No one’s parents were summoned for a court appearance. Everyone knew the charade and played their part, and when the last bell rang, peace was restored.

  14. Mr. Kurland, I know this from personal experience in dealing with one of the largest diocese in world.

    You obviously just hate the notion of public education, and that’s what this is really about.

    JMJ

  15. JMJ, name that diocese? And if I had children of school age they would indeed not go to the “public” schools….Did you know, by the way, that home schoolers exceeded public school students scores on the SAT by a considerable percentage?
    See
    http://www.forbes.com/sites/billflax/2013/01/22/want-to-tell-the-state-to-stick-it-homeschool-your-kids/
    The same is true in our local district comparing parochial school scores with public schools–unfortunately I don’t have a web site for that.
    And by the way, the graduate students in my research group called me Bob or Doc.
    People I know well, or choose to know well, call me Bob. Others call me Dr. Kurland. The only ones who call me “Mr. Kurland” or the help agents on the phone.

  16. Brandon Gates

    June 10, 2014 at 2:44 pm

    Briggs,

    Your lede:

    … Darin Simak, 7, came to school with a Nerf dart thrower in his backpack. Little Simak brought the toy to the principal’s office, perhaps thinking it would be fun to Show & Tell.

    The actual lede:

    A Pennsylvania 7-year-old was suspended and faces possible expulsion after accidentally bringing a toy gun to school, despite turning himself in.

    Soo, way I remember it, show & tell didn’t take place in the principal’s office. But I would never snark about a ridiculous story, would I. 🙂

    Bit further down we find:

    Mr. Simak told the Valley News Dispatch that his son was suspended twice before this incident but is not violent. One suspension was for pushing his friend during an argument, and another was for teasing on the school bus.

    Some potential double-speak going on here. Not knowing father or son personally, I want to give them both the benefit of the doubt. However, I just can’t completely suppress a slightly raised eyebrow. You know, that thing Nimoy does just before laconically uttering the word “fascinating”.

    In this case, the father feels a suspension is the wrong response to a child who was simply telling the truth, saying, “He did the right thing, and we’re trying to teach him the right way…and now they’re teaching him the wrong way.”

    Man has a point; especially if his kid is really is the normalish sort of mildly pugnacious 7 year-old lad with generally good soul.

    I haven’t tallied up any numbers, but it seems the worst school shootings are perpetrated by the unpopular kids. Not the more popular ones — who also tend to be the teasers, not the teasees. Kind of puts school administrators in a bind, dunnit. Reverse-profiling issues aside, I’ve been musing about what might really be going on.

    When I was 7-10ish, I quickly learned that ratting out the kid who stole my pencils or called me a skinny nerd only made things ten times worse. If the teacher happened to catch this going on with the eyes in back of his or her head, it was only marginally less worse. So when a kid shoved me on the playground, I learned that decking him a few times in the face thereby giving him a fat lip and a nosebleed worked wonders. Even if I got a black eye and a sore jaw for my troubles. Occasionally worse. Always worth it in the end though.

    Could it be that sensitivity training for bullies really is the wrong approach? I did have one principal who gave me some badassery lessons once. And when I got suspended (for a fight I started) Dad said, “Not good to fight, but sometimes you’ve gotta give the bastard a lesson.” Correct lesson, wrong scenario, but I eventually put it all together in the right way.

    This is a suburban district problem as I see it though. Urban districts handle plenty of real guns and knives, depending on the locale. And being that many “problem” districts are often like the Siberia of the education system — I’m 100% serious — this smacks just a little of being a first-world problem.

    Master Simak is lucky that getting suspended for bringing a Nerf Gun to school is thus far the worst of his problems. That’s not to say that there isn’t an issue to tweak here. But downtown, parents worry about their kids coming home in a bag, having been permanently expelled from school for the unpardonable sin of not being bulletproof.

  17. Brandon Gates

    June 10, 2014 at 2:52 pm

    Jersey,

    Luckily, of the thousands and thousands of schools out there, this kind of thing only happens once in a while. But then, where would silly, simple-minded , broad attacks on institutions be without anecdotes?

    Hey, it looks like you’ve gotten one half of your brain unscrewed at least. ‘Grats. But, from yesterthread:

    We the people, through our elected constitutional government (that conservatives loathe), have to make sure that the moral vacuums out there (ie; people on the Right) aren’t spewing contaminates into our food, air, water, etc.

    You made any progress on that one having slept on it? Or is this one of those “the-ends-justify-the-means” thingies?

  18. Hey…to everybody (including JMJ):
    it’s either “Bob”, “Doc” or “Dr. Kurland”…as suits your fancy…
    Please, no “Mr. Kurland”

  19. Okay, Bob, I don’t know you enough to go farther with that subject, but I would suggest if you want to find out all you’d have to do is call and ask what the standards are. I know what you will discover, but I think you need to find out for yourself. Forbes magazine is probably not going to get to this particular issue. It’s not a big selling point for alternative education.

    Also, education is really a local matter, with varying influence of the states, and a small influence from the federal government. So the effective systems we have in place for back-grounding, qualifying and such on teachers vary widely from place to place. Here it has to do with the states a little more, but the parochial regulation for all that is usually a minimum that most all publics exceed.

    I’m not bashing the parochials, either. Overall, they’re just as good if not better than most public schools.

    Brandon,

    Slept on what?

    JMJ

  20. Okay, Bob,

    I don’t know you enough to go farther with that subject, but I would suggest if you want to find out all you’d have to do is call and ask what the standards are. I know what you will discover, but I think you need to find out for yourself. Forbes magazine is probably not going to get to this particular issue. It’s not a big selling point for alternative education.

    Also, education is really a local matter, with varying influence of the states, and a small influence from the federal government. So the effective systems we have in place for back-grounding, qualifying and such on teachers vary widely from place to place. Here it has to do with the states a little more, but the parochial regulation for all that is usually a minimum that most all publics exceed.

    I’m not bashing the parochials, either. Overall, they’re just as good if not better than most public schools.

    Brandon,

    Slept on what?

    JMJ

  21. JMJ: using anecdotes like wallpaper paste instead of filling in fine detail where required.

  22. Jersey McJones and others who think like him are missing the larger point here.

    Sure, these examples are extreme, but the fact that this can ever happen at all, in school systems run by supposed adults with critical thinking skills and a sense of good judgment, ought to be sending up all kinds of red flags.

    It signifies an attitude that — almost certainly — is pervasive at many or most of the school districts across the country. A ridiculous, hyper-legal, and passive-aggressive level of paranoia about things that could not possibly be less minor, combined with draconian penalties and way too much reliance on zero tolerance (which itself is a bad idea), hiding behind idiotic policies, and calling the cops way too quickly and frequently. Combine that with union protectionism and retirement feather-bedding, and the fact that most Ed schools (teaching the teachers) around the country are feminized, largely anti-male institutions dominated by the ideologies of social justice loons like Bill Ayers, who spend lots of taxpayer dollars to indoctrinate the mostly inferior students (not all, of course, there are many fine teachers out there, but … ) that go to Ed schools today.

    That is an awful lot of toxicity right there. Ask yourself what is the cost to our kids, en masse, when put into that system for 13 years. Multiply by millions. We should all be thanking God every day that so many kids survive it, and we should start firing people who are responsible for implementing it. It’s not like our achievement is anything to brag about, and it’s getting worse, not better. It’s a mess and it needs fixed, now.

  23. Ray: Thank goodness I had a double major–Chemistry and Psychology. Otherwise, I might be turning in kids for bringing nail clippers to school (I have really cool picture of how a nail file can puncture a hollow door so I think this would hold up.) Luckily, or not, all that chemistry kept me grounded in what is and is not a weapon.
    I do wonder why the girl did not go the traditional vinegar and baking soda route, however.

    Background checking only helps if the person has exhibited bad behaviour before applying and was caught. If the behaviour begins after hire or was well-hidden, they are useless.

    Katie: Excellent point.

    Bob K: Not all homeschoolers actually school their children. I knew of two whose children never did graduate, take a GED or anything. They were basically uneducated children. Some are good, yes, but not all.

    Brandon: I suspect that sensitivity training for bullies may have the same effect “DARE” did for drugs–teaching kids to make better drug choices and avoid detection. Has anyone considered that the real problems with bullying are that (a) kids are taught they are helpless against bullies and (b) it’s preparation for the massive bullying of the government and those in charge, having been taught they cannot confront bullies. We say “don’t bully” and yet every bit of politics today is nothing but bullying, all the way to top.

  24. Sheri, in Pennsylvania there are inspections and tests for home-schooled kids…I don’t know about other states. The curricula, texts and all else for home-schooling are supervised by the state board of education here..

  25. Bob: Six of nieces and nephews were “home schooled” in Pennsylvania. As far as I know, not one of the six ever took the GED or graduated in any other way. One attended public high school for a year, after which her mother said she had to “correct” all of that learning. It seems you can drop out of homeschooling just like regular school after a certain grade. I have no idea how the kids learned math or science, since their mother and father are huge fans of pseudoscience. Somehow they apparently managed to meet state requirements.

  26. Well, Sheri my anecdotal evidence and yours don’t agree–I thought it was a state thing for supervision, but it must be local. If I look at the State regulations* there seem to be standardized tests required up to the 8th grade, and submission of a portfolio as requirements every year for courses…There are counties in PA where I would guess that maybe standards might be…how shall I say..relaxed? I’m in a rural county, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. The two home-schooled students whom I know of have gone on to pretty good colleges (little Ivy league and selective State University).

    *http://www.education.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt/community/overview_of_homeschooling/20312

  27. That’s the problem with anecdotal evidence, isn’t it? I suspect the difference is that not all parents keep their children out of school not to educate them but rather to keep them in the dark about other’s ideas.

    The “up to 8th grade” seems to fit. I think my relatives did take said tests for a while. When they reached the point that no one was actually checking on them, all the education stopped.

    It would be interesting to see how many home-schooled kids do go to college, etc. Probably are stats out there somewhere—maybe I’ll look that up sometime.

  28. One comment on the Briggs’ story of the student with the toilet bowl cleaner experiment:
    While this is definately over-reacting, calling the police (though there are reports that police are involved when someone builds one of these “bombs” and leaves it out in the open), toilet bowl cleaner is not something you should be using in a school setting. Hers was apparently toilet bowl cleaner and aluminum. The cleaner itself is HCl acid and the reaction creates hydrogen. Neither of which are appropriate for school projects. And she had it in a plastic bottle. There are all kinds of websites telling you how to make this as a “bomb”. It’s not a minor mistake.
    Additionally, mixing toilet bowl cleaner with anything is a bad move. Some react with bleach and create a toxic gas.
    Perhaps a better choice of punishment would have been to have the student research why we don’t bring toilet bowl cleaner to school as part of an experiment.

  29. Brandon Gates

    June 12, 2014 at 1:08 pm

    Sheri,

    I have no earthly idea what effect DARE has had on kids, so I can’t speak to it. Your assessment is plausible given what I know about drug culture in general as well as some anecdotes from people I know who have been incarcerated on drug charges: namely that jail is a great place to learn how to be a better drug dealer/consumer.

    (a) From my own experience, I was wrongly trained in two ways.

    First, the universal injunction about fighting back — go tell a teacher. WRONG move. Second, parents and school administrators asking, “Well, is there something that YOU’RE doing to bring the teasing and hitting upon yourself?”

    On that second note, yes, there was something I was “doing”: I was not very well socialized to begin with. I was in a news school every year until 5th grade. A shy, socially awkward new kid with a different cultural background gets picked on. I began to believe it really was me because adults reinforced it.

    Cascade, self-fulfilling prophesy.

    (b) Oh, very good point. From a childhood bully’s perspective, which I can only guess at because I was not one, the administration likely does feel like bullying to them as well. The principal in this story behaved in an arguably authoritarian way. My understanding is that extreme cases of child bullies, which Master Simak is likely not, often come from abusive homes themselves. Physical and/or emotional. Emotional is quite enough to do it. They bully because it gives them a feeling of power that they don’t have at home.

    Cascade, self-fulfilling prophesy. Right into adulthood and up the foodchain into national-level politics.

  30. Yes, an example of doing all the wrong things in the name of fixing society.

  31. Brandon Gates

    June 12, 2014 at 6:43 pm

    Fix ourselves and society will follow. 🙂

  32. sorry…I don’t know how to do html tags yet…. old dog and new tricks. That should be the comic strip Mallard Fillmore for the link.

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