- Backpacks, hooded sweatshirts, and even bottled water have been banned at some schools.
- Even seemingly innocent things like the dictionary and the game of tag have been banned.
- It’s not always a security measure – sometimes, it’s about protecting students’ feelings or making it harder for them to smuggle in cell phones.
School is almost back in session, and it’s a good time for students and parents to review what they’re allowed and not allowed to bring onto campus.
The list of things that have been banned at schools contains some pretty unexpected items. Depending on where you live, hooded sweatshirts, bottled water, and backpacks may be off limits. Even the dictionary was briefly banned at one California elementary school.
Read on to see some of the strangest things that have been banned from schools over the years.
Schoolteachers have used the dreaded ren pen to mark up their students’ mistakes for generations.
The sight of red ink became so jarring that several schools in England banned teachers from using it in the 2000s. Many of them hoped that by forcing teachers to make their corrections in other colours, it would soften the stigma of making a mistake.
He continued: “Red pen can be quite de-motivating for children,” Richard Sammonds, the head teacher at Kent Junior School in England, told The Telegraph in 2008. “It has negative, old school connotations of ‘See me’ and ‘Not good enough.'”
“We are no longer producing clerks and bookkeepers. We are trying to provide an education for children coming into the workforce in the 21st century.”
Nowadays, cell phones are far too common for most schools to effectively ban them.
But back in 2012, many schools were trying their best to prevent their students from accessing their mobile devices. One Pennsylvania school went so far as to ban Ugg boots on campus because too many students were using them to secretly store their phones.
Naturally, the ban drew a strong backlash from students and parents.
“If a middle school student is determined enough to have their cell phone on them, believe me they will regardless of the shoes they are wearing,” one parent wrote on Facebook after the ban was announced.
Backpacks are a quintessential school supply, but many schools in the United States are giving them the axe.
Some schools in Iowa and Illinois banned backpacks during school hours because of the amount of space they take up in the class and the congestion they cause in hallways.
Bake sales are a great way to raise money for under-funded school activities. But for New York City officials, the events are just too unhealthy to justify.
In 2009, the New York City Department of Education banned schools from selling “non-approved items” between the start of the school day and 6 p.m., disrupting the typical bake-sale hours for hundreds of schools across the city.
Other states may soon follow suit with similar rules to better conform with federal nutrition guidelines.
“There’s a lot of fear among school food directors that we will have to be the food police,” Julia Bauscher, president of the School Nutrition Association, told The Wall Street Journal.
If you were around in the mid-1990s, you certainly do. The cardboard disks were used in a popular game that swept the nation, and like many other fads, Pogs quickly drew the ire of schools around the country. Many schools banned the game altogether because of the conflicts it was causing, according to The New York Times.
“They became a pretty hot item to steal,” a teacher from Illinois told the newspaper. “We just ask the kids not to bring them.”
“It takes away from your teaching time when you’re trying to settle the problems,” a teacher from Massachusetts said.
Speaking of fads, here’s a more modern one that drove school officials furious: bottle flipping.
In 2016, flipping water bottles became the latest craze after a viral video showed a North Carolina student pulling off the feat at a talent show.
The trend spread around the world, and teachers soon grew annoyed at the constant thwacking sounds the bottles would make. Schools responded swiftly – many of them banned bottle-flipping, and at least two schools banned plastic water bottles completely because of the disruptions they were causing.
For years, dodgeball has been a staple of American physical education classes.
But those days may be numbered if some school officials get their way. School districts in Florida, New York, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Texas have all banned dodgeball over the years, citing the violent nature of the game and arguing that it encourages bullying.
Dodgeball may be too rough for some educators to stomach, but this one takes it to another level.
Even the age-old schoolyard game of tag was banned at one California elementary school because students were getting too physical.
“Students were instructed that physical contact including tag games, touch football, etc. were not allowed on the yard,” Principal David Frankel wrote to parents.
The practice of banning books for their supposedly obscene contents has been around for ages.
One school in Murrieta, California, went a step further and banned the dictionary from fourth- and fifth-grade classrooms after a parent complained that the books contained references to oral sex.
The ban didn’t last long – days later, teachers and administrators voted to bring the dictionaries back into the classrooms. As a compromise, they sent students home with permission slips so objecting parents could opt for their students to use to a different dictionary.
The schools cited safety concerns, and required any student who wears a hoodie to school to keep it in their locker until the day is over.
Meanwhile, the school district in Erie, Pennsylvania, allowed students to trade in their school hoodies for crew-neck sweatshirts or sweaters.
A few schools have taken the radical step of banning homework.
One of them, the preschool-to-fifth-grade Orchard School in Vermont, announced in 2016 that teachers would no longer assign homework to students. Instead, they issued guidelines for students to read every night, play outside, eat dinner with their families, and get a good night’s sleep.
Parents have reported positive results, with some saying their children have more time to pursue outside interests and that they now read more outside of school than they did before the policy.
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