Letter to the Editor: Grow Up Already!

For many years I was a middle school principal. One of my responsibilities was to handle discipline problems that were brought to my attention. I served as a school administrator in a variety of public-school settings, among which were a minority population school district, a blue-collar community, and middle- and upper-socioeconomic suburban school areas. 

No matter where I was serving as principal, student discipline problems seemed the same. When a student was sent to my office for consultation and review of a behavior problem, I would state the reported offense and give each student the opportunity to explain his/her side of the story. I was careful to provide each student with due process and the opportunity to respond to the accusations reported. 

I retired after 35 years in public-school education. By then I had heard every possible excuse that students would give in defense of their misbehavior: for example, “He/She started it”; “I didn’t do that!”; “I didn’t say that”; “It wasn’t my fault”; and the classic “I was only joking.” The blame shifting was expected and predictable. Occasionally, some students would try to turn the table on me and imply that I was the one who was wrong for telling them that they did or said something wrong. Sound familiar?

As I watch and listen to President Trump in press briefings or blaring answers to questions on the White House lawn, he acts and sounds exactly like a middle-schooler. He always shifts the blame and not only implies, but directly states that anyone who questions him is wrong for telling him that he is wrong. 

My point is that by the end of their middle school years, most students mature and display a reasonable amount of self-control. I wish I had the same confidence in President Trump. He seems frozen in pre-adolescence. Judging by his overall behavior, he’d fit in any middle school right now, the sixth-grade level at most. I think he needs a visit to the principal’s office.

Dennis Lonstine

Sister Bay, Wisconsin