Patterico's Pontifications


Boy Samson Prevails

Filed under: Education,Law — DRJ @ 6:28 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

The 5th Circuit upheld a federal court ruling in favor of Boy Samson and his parents over the Principled Principal:

“The 5-year-old boy’s parents, Kenney Arocha and Michelle Betenbaugh, argued their son, identified in court papers as A.A., has a constitutional right to wear a hairstyle that conforms to his American Indian religious beliefs. Arocha hasn’t cut his own hair in 11 years, believing the long braids have religious meaning. His son’s hair has never been cut.”

There are earlier posts on this story here and here.


40 Responses to “Boy Samson Prevails”

  1. Good.

    nk (db4a41)

  2. I wonder if the kid’s father works for a living. Yeah yeah I am a prick but I just figure the “ethnic” father is a scammer and probably has latched onto every gravy train he can.

    AJ Lynch (e54992)

  3. I can see the argument against overriding someone’s religious beliefs. And I’ve often ridiculed school administrator’s lack of simple common sense and useof faddish, education theories based on the most ludicrous concepts.

    But at the same time, I don’t applaud the use of the judicial system to adjudicate every single instance of a dispute in our school systems.

    The use of courts to override the successful attempts of school districts to instill character, values, and discipline in students is not laudable. It is another part of the reason we are seeing the education system fail.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  4. I’d like to know the kid’s grades. If he is doing well and can read and calculate, he can wear his hair as he wishes.

    Mike K (82f374)

  5. “Arocha hasn’t cut his own hair in 11 years…”

    Me neither.

    “…believing the long braids have religious meaning.”

    In my case though, I’m just too cheap to pay barbers.

    Dave Surls (3f74f5)

  6. Interesting.
    FIRE continually hands school districts/administrators/chancellors their heads.
    The kid who had GI-Joe figures attached to his hat eventually won.
    More and more parents are standing up to the “one size fits all” mentality of school bureaucracies, and winning.
    The oil-services industry did not lie down for the Interior Dept.
    AZ is butting heads with the DoJ.
    Polls consistently show that the programs of the Obumunist Administration are not only unpopular, but increasingly so.

    Could it be that the American People are getting a little pissed from the “we know better than you how you should conduct your life” attitude that has infected government at all levels?

    November could be a blood-bath.

    Extra butter please.

    AD - RtR/OS! (2e91a1)

  7. Length of hair has no rational relationship to the ability to learn. Especially for a six year old.

    The principal is a [bad person].

    nk (db4a41)

  8. Comment by Dave Surls — 7/9/2010 @ 7:25 pm

    Can’t/don’t need to cut what is already falling-out.

    AD - RtR/OS! (2e91a1)

  9. More and more parents are standing up to the “one size fits all” mentality of school bureaucracies, and winning.

    That kind of thinking, one size fits all, is called Procrustean and some guy named Theseus was supposed to have put an end to it about three thousand years ago. (His father put a sword under a rock for when he was strong enough to move the rock, BTW.)

    nk (db4a41)

  10. I can think of a few Educrats that should be up close and personal with that sword.

    AD - RtR/OS! (2e91a1)

  11. I don’t like that my daughter’s school took dodgeball out of the gym curriculum, and as a member of the PTA executive board I’m in a position to raise hell, but you pick your battles.

    nk (db4a41)

  12. The policy is designed to teach proper hygiene, promote discipline and avoid disruptions in school, according to Roger Hepworth, a lawyer for the district

    I think we all agree that the ideas behind the policy are good, but the length of hair is at best an arbitrary choice of a surrogate marker and not inherently related to hygiene or discipline. I think it is good not to buck regulations for the sake of bucking regulations, but I am also not in favor of arbitrary rules as a measure of virtue.

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  13. Thank God, I still have all my hair, no bald spots, but I got tired of shampooing every time after I walked out into my yard this summer so I went and got a buzz cut.

    nk (db4a41)

  14. Procrustean

    Does that have to do with being a professional crab?

    No dodgeball- I survived gym class where the combined 7-9 grades played dodgeball (I believe we called it battleball). In general the 7th graders (of which I was one) were like cannon fodder for the 9th graders that shaved. So what.

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  15. But…but…Doc…..

    Y o u … w e r e … a … v i c t i m !!!!!

    AD - RtR/OS! (2e91a1)

  16. We called it bombardment whe I was young, and we used soccer balls. Now they use foam rubber Nerf type balls but I guess the [bad people] still think that’s too rough.

    If I could have my daughter playing dodgeball one hour a day — running, throwing, dodging, hand-eye coordination, hitting and getting hit — I would not care if she had no other physical activity except swimming.

    nk (db4a41)

  17. And all those who “care” about the children wonder why they are suffering from obesity?

    AD - RtR/OS! (2e91a1)

  18. Procrustes was an ogre with an iron (or hardwood) bed. He would layway travellers and put them on the bed. If they were too short, he would stretch them — if they were too long he would trim them. Theseus put Procrustes on that bed and it turned out he was too long for it. He did not survive the operation.

    nk (db4a41)

  19. *waylay travellers*

    nk (db4a41)

  20. So the moral of the story of Procrustes was be careful how you make your bed, for you may have to lie in it??

    I assume this is a bit of Greek mythology that was not in the severly edited version most of us learned.

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  21. It’s actually an archetypal, in the Jungian sense, Athenian myth about the advent of civilization.

    Theseus was the Athenian hero — later elevated to god, as compared to Hercules the Dorian hero also elevated to god. (An important difference is that Theseus was 100% human while Hercules was the son of a god.)

    Hercules killed monsters, Theseus killed monstrous people.

    There’s a temple of Theseus in Athens, worth visiting if you ever pass that way.

    nk (db4a41)

  22. I recommend “A Handbook of Greek Mythology”, by H.J. Rose, if you like that kind of stuff.

    nk (db4a41)

  23. Actually that book and author rings a bell, maybe read out of it in high school. The story of Sisyphus (sp?) is one I do remember.

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  24. I like the myth of Sisyphus, too. It’s about futility, greed, and pride, also lessons in Ecclesiastes and the Koran.

    nk (db4a41)

  25. How about religious freedoms for a teacher that demands to wear a niqab?

    tom scott (066d3c)

  26. There are situations when rights collide. Freedom of religious expression does not allow for human sacrifice, for example.

    I imagine the argument would have to be that there is a public safety risk by allowing people to function with clothes that hide their identity. I suppose the argument could be made that parents have a right to know who is the teacher in with their children, and for someone to be essentially hidden and allowed to have contacxt with children is not acceptible. Not sure if it is a strong enough argument, off hand.

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  27. Theseus killed monstrous people.

    Don’t forget the Minotaur.

    And the story of Hippolytus and Phraedra (his son and wife) is just as much a part of the legend as the Minotaur.

    In ninth grade, we were made to read Edith Hamilton. “Greek Myths” if I remember correctly, as well as a semi-naturalistic novelization of the story; I cant remember the title or author of the book (actually, I seem to remember there were two books involved, the first devoted to Theseus’s adventure with the Minotaur, and the second to the Phaedra/Hippolytus story).

    But I had already learned it from Bulfinch’s Mythology.

    kishnevi (c9b193)

  28. Somewhere along the way, a public school education went from being a priviledge to a right.

    After having served my community as a local school board member for over fifteen years, I can truthfully say that we used to see this kind of crap constantly; always trying to bend or break the rules and constantly trying to chip away at them.

    And it has worked, as evidenced by what goes on in schools now as opposed to what it was forty or fifty years ago. Is it better now? I know what I would say. What about you?

    Leonardo DaFinchi (8c0a12)

  29. It’s become quite commonplace over the past few decades for parents, when their children are reprimanded by teachers, to side with little Johnny or little Jane instead of the big ol’ mean instructor.

    In a somewhat similar vein, various school districts, in order to not hurt the self-esteem of students, do not allow the team sports they’re a part of to be associated with the traditional concept of winners and losers and the game scoring that goes with that. Therefore, everyone is declared the winner and everyone receives a trophy.

    Mark (411533)

  30. Is it better now?

    The major problem is that most school districts don’t receive enough funding. Uh-huh, yea, that’s the problem. No wonder more kids don’t do better academically!

    We need to greatly increase taxes to help ensure the excellence of our public schools and make sure the sad, embattled teacher unions throughout America are treated with love, honor and great humility.

    Mark (411533)

  31. I recommend “A Handbook of Greek Mythology”, by H.J. Rose, if you like that kind of stuff.

    Too bad our esteemed President never was exposed to such literary work – it might have done wonders for his world outlook
    (much better than the collected thoughts of Frank Marshall Davis, which I’m sure he’s memorized).

    Mark, you’re too funny.

    AD - RtR/OS! (2e91a1)

  32. If you read the decision, the parents spent a long time trying to work with the principal and school board to find a solution before having to bring a lawsuit, and the administrators come across as typical power-happy bureaucrats who’d rather ruin a 5-year-old kid’s life than permit anyone to question their authority.

    Nels (3e56d7)

  33. Comment by kishnevi — 7/9/2010 @ 9:27 pm

    I would consider the Minotaur a monstrous human — his mother was the queen of Crete and he was a punishment from Poseidon for irreverence. (That’s one of the reasons I think Theseus is a transitional myth where people start telling the gods, “We’d like to grow up a little by ourselves now”.)

    nk (db4a41)

  34. 2.I wonder if the kid’s father works for a living. Yeah yeah I am a prick but —

    No buts

    Icy Texan (7ea4cc)

  35. Dodgeball days were my favorite days, I was a goalie in soccer so I was used to having balls coming at me with some velocity, I was good at catching them. LOVED that game. I mourn it’s passing in schools. There is so much gamesmanship involved in alliances and planning on who you hide behind until you can catch the ball and get the one kid on the other side with aim and an arm out. Then it was just picking off the leftovers.

    We used a volleyball – fully inflated. It left red marks.

    All that to say, it’s a shame that the current, dominant theory of education is all about samey-samey self esteem and not actual learning. And dodgeball. Parents are the ones who are in charge of hairstyles, NOT the school board. If the kid is clean, neat and doesn’t smell – who frickin cares?

    Vivian Louise (643333)

  36. I actually liked dodgeball—my classmates routinely underestimated me, because I was bad at most sports, so I was usually one of the last ones left standing. Once or twice, by luck, I was the last one on the field.

    “In the end there can be only one.”

    Technomad (e2c0f2)

  37. Comment by Technomad

    Now that’s what I’m talkin’ about!

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  38. Somewhere in the deep recesses of my memory there is a little twinge that says Theseus was supposed to be the son of Poseidon.

    The two novels are most likely ‘The King Must Die’ and ‘The Bull from the Sea’ by Mary Renault.

    Having now remembered those it’s time for me to reread ‘The King Must Die’ I recall it as having and excellent secondary theme about the obligations of leadership.

    Robert N. (80f2cf)

  39. Both of Poseidon and Aegeus, but I don’t agree with that. It’s like Virgil’s Aeneiad to me — something made by poets and playwrights much later to please some audience or sponsor.

    Could be by Christian monks, too, trying to reconcile both God and Joseph as the father of Christ.

    nk (db4a41)

  40. The two novels are most likely ‘The King Must Die’ and ‘The Bull from the Sea’ by Mary Renault.

    Thank you! The minute I saw your comment, memory awoke. Those are indeed the books I was thinking of.

    kishnevi (cc1ec4)

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