PA School Institutes Fascist Facial Expression Policy: Smile, Or Else

What is going on with education in Pennsylvania?

It wasn’t too long ago that we heard the proposal from one Pennsylvania school to combat potential mass shooters with buckets of rocks, like third world protesters facing down a tyrannical military regime.

Now another Keystone State school is punishing kids for not smiling.

Yes, students in Pennsylvania’s North Lebanon District will face consequences if they are seen not smiling in the hallways.

Students who don’t have a smile on their face while in the hallways between classes are told to either smile or go see a guidance counselor to discuss their problems.

Fifteen-year-old Julianna Gundrum, a student at the school district, said if you didn’t smile there would be consequences. Julianna Gundrum’s mother, Jean Gundrum, has since pulled her from the school and has enrolled her in the district’s cyber school program.

“If you don’t (smile) you get called to the office or down to see your guidance counselor,” she said. “You have to talk about your problems then. You have to or you get detention.”

Smile or face interrogation. Refuse interrogation and you will be punished. This is some real Barney Fife fascism here. Obviously no one is under threat of bodily harm here, but it’s hard not to think of events staged by dictators where they are surrounded by smiling children.

If a kid is behaving properly and not being disruptive, it is none of the school’s damned business how much teeth he’s showing.

Besides, can you think of anything more disconcerting than a crowded hallway full of sullen teenagers sporting forced smiles? It’s nightmarish.

Even though smiling in the hallways is not a written rule at the school district, it is something that Assistant High School Principal Benjamin Wenger has taken upon himself to enforce, according to several teachers. The teachers who spoke to Lebanon Daily News asked to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation from the school district.

How did you lose your teaching job? Oh, I spoke to the media about my whack job principle coercing smiles from children.

Some people are saying that the school has failed to take anti-bullying rules seriously even though they are part of state law, unlike the policing of facial expressions. (Oh, and there’s apparently also a sex toy scandal involving Principle Smileyface. Any connection between that and his smile obsession would be purely conjecture at this point.)

While Wenger – who has been accused of throwing around a sex toy in the office during school hours (along with High School Principal Jennifer Hassler and Middle School Principal Brad Reist) – may care about whether or not students are smiling between classes, parents and teachers have bigger concerns. Both say Wenger and his fellow administrators don’t care enough about the bullying and harassment taking place in the school district. Teachers are aware that a child without a smile in the hall can be sent to the guidance counselor.

Despite no written rule on smiling in the hallway, there is written policy regarding bullying. State law required schools to adopt an anti-bullying policy by Jan. 1, 2009.

Bullying certainly can be a serious problem in some cases but schools these days tend to blow a lot of things out of proportion like bullying or tangential off campus acknowledgment of the existence of firearms or firearm shaped pastries.

Still, I think this fascist smile policy might just out-stupid some of that silliness.

The floggings will continue until morale improves.