Wrong Lesson

We do badly enough in educating our children in reading, mathematics and other academic subjects. But when it comes to teaching them common sense, we get an F.

Children who point imaginary finger-pistols at classmates are disciplined. A teenager who wears a shirt bearing a picture of a gun to school is ordered to take it off. Dull butter knives sent with school lunches can earn small children suspensions.

This is crazy.

Another chapter in the idiocy was written earlier this year in Kanawha County, where the judicial system has done some excellent work in cracking down on parents who allow children to miss school.

But a mother who pleaded guilty in court to a truancy charge involving her son got a raw deal. She was sentenced to five days of community service, a $50 fine and court costs, and now has a criminal record.

Her son missed 15 days at his elementary school last fall because he had mononucleosis – as his parents told the principal. The child later did well in class.

The principal wrote a letter to the court and, according to a published report, thought the truancy charge would go no further. He understands the difference between a child missing school because of illness and real truancy.

Apparently neither the prosecuting attorney nor the judge did. Common sense would have dictated dropping the case.

By all means, let’s crack down on truancy.

But let’s not throw common sense out the window.