DR. WALLACE: I received a B on an algebra test because I missed one of the assigned problems. But the problem that was marked wrong was actually correct as written on my test! I'm not sure if our teacher or perhaps her assistant corrected and graded my paper. Should I show the teacher that my answer to the problem was actually right? I don't want the teacher to be upset if she graded my paper, and I don't want to appear pushy. My parents have often told me to be polite to others and not to be pushy in public. — Actually Correct, via email
CORRECT: Teachers and their assistants are human, and sometimes, they do make mistakes. You earned an A and should be rewarded with an A. The teacher should be given an opportunity to review your test paper once again. I'm sure she'll be happy to correct the error and be pleased that you really earned an A. Teachers love it when students do well on tests; it's a sign that they've done their job.
The bigger lesson here is this: If you are certain you're right, don't be afraid to stand up for yourself — but do so diplomatically in all instances, not just in this one instance at school. This is a life lesson well worth learning and practicing.
YOU DESERVED THE SEVERE PUNISHMENT
DR. WALLACE: I have been suspended from school for the rest of the school year because my locker was illegally searched by the school principal. He heard I had a gun hidden in there. Some student told the school nurse and said he saw it there. What he found was a starter pistol that fires "blanks" — not bullets — and is used to start races, like at track meets. I took it to school just to show it off to my friends, not to do harm. A lawyer told me that the police couldn't search a school locker without a search warrant, but a school principal can search a locker legally without a search warrant. Why is this? — Anonymous, Detroit
ANONYMOUS: The school operates such that school authorities can do what a reasonable parent might do in times of stress or possible danger. Since the school is responsible for the safety and welfare of all of its students — not just the student who has a locker in question — school authorities can search without permission if they think something harmful to the student body might be present in a locker. Even though the "gun" was a starter pistol, you made a serious error bringing it to your school. You should have known better than to bring anything that remotely resembles a weapon to school in this day and age of so many school shootings. You made a bad mistake and deserve the punishment given to you. From here, I suggest that you apologize to everyone involved and seek to be reinstated at your school at the beginning of the next school year. Perhaps, you could also write a letter of apology and submit it to your school's student body and administration. In the meantime, seek another school to continue your studies so that your education can progress.
Dr. Robert Wallace welcomes questions from readers. Although he is unable to reply to all of them individually, he will answer as many as possible in this column. Email him at [email protected] To find out more about Dr. Robert Wallace and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.