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Editorial: What were they thinking?

Dipping into the what-on-earth-were-they-thinking file, drawn from some recent stories that made headlines in North Carolina and elsewhere:
– Grades for money. Goldsboro Middle School didn’t have much luck with last year’s chocolate fundraiser, so this year a parent advisory council sweetened the deal. Instead of selling candy, they proposed selling grades. Students would get an extra 20 test points in exchange for a $20 donation. Rosewood Principal Susie Shepherd signed off on the plan. It was a horribly bad idea in pursuit of a worthy goal ó buying new digital cameras for the computer lab and a high-tech blackboard. After the story made the national news ó it was even spoofed by Jay Leno ó county school officials pulled the plug. The principal has taken a leave of absence and will retire at the end of December. Anybody want to buy some cookie dough?
– 10-year-old Tasered. There’s room for reasonable debate about police officers’ use of Tasers, but it’s difficult to imagine any scenario that justifies using a Taser on an unarmed 10-year-old child. Yet that’s what happened in Little Rock, Ark. A police officer used a stun gun on the unruly girl after being summoned to a home because of a domestic disturbance. The officer said it was only “a very brief” jolt to subdue the girl, whom he described as violent and combative. From the officer’s perspective, this is called justifiable use of force. If a parent did the same thing, it would be called child abuse.
– Return to sender. The U.S. Postal Service is a beleaguered bureaucracy, about as popular as fire ants at a Fourth of July picnic. Customers complain about ever higher rates and the reduction of branch stations in cities across the nation, including Salisbury. Now, in a most bah-humbug fashion, the service has decided to shut down its “Operation Santa” program in the small Alaska town of North Pole. The decision will end a tradition that dates to 1954, when kids began sending letters addressed to “Santa Claus, North Pole,” and volunteers would mail back individual responses, with the “North Pole” postal cancellation mark. In defending its action, the Postal Service says it has had to restrict the Operation Santa program (which will continue at other locales) because of concerns about sex offenders signing up to work as volunteers responding to children’s letters. Certainly, the program should take appropriate precautions to protect children. But pulling out of the North Pole at Christmas? While you’re at it, might as well honor the Grinch with his own commemorative stamp.
Our prediction: You’ll see this decision reversed quicker than you can say “Kris Kringle.”

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