HAVE YOU HEARD THIS MORNING that Daniel Parmertor, 16, a junior at Chardon High here in Ohio was killed at school? Have you heard that Russell King Jr.,17, badly wounded, has now succumbed? Do you know that the shooter is also 17?
No, make it worse. A third teen, Demetrius Hewlin, has now died. Two more are wounded but likely to live. And what do our leaders in education have to offer to deal with this sort of tragedy? We're going to focus on standardized tests!
It makes me sick.
From U. S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, in 2012, stretching back to William Bennett, who held the office in 1985, none of the loudest voices in U. S. education ever address fundamental problems. The kid who did the shooting, really, who wants him in their school? What plan do we have for helping that kid? Is that plan to avert our gaze, send all the good kids to charter schools, and pretend the shooter went away? Secretary Duncan blathers on about the need to bring better people into the teaching profession. Mean-while, back in Chicago, where he supposedly fixed city schools, you have 300 school-age kids shot in gang-related violence in a typical year.
In the United States today an estimated 400,000 juveniles are gang members. And what does Congress do? Pass a law called No Child Left Behind, promise by 2014, that every child will be proficient in reading and math. Does that include gang members?
We have politicians and education "leaders" who sit on the sidelines and tell teachers what they should do; and they don't acknowledge one tenth of the difficulties and don't save a single child themselves. All they really do is preach.
It was a real teacher, Frank Hall, acting quickly, who dragged one wounded teen into a classroom, out of the line of fire, this week.
Public schools aren't just tasked with saving the sweet little kindergartner, the fresh-faced fifth grader from a good home and the diligent high school senior who dreams of going to Ohio State. The public schools don't just try to save Parmertor, who had hoped to become a computer repairman. They don't just teach victims, like King and Hewlin, who were minding their business in the cafeteria yesterday morning when gunfire erupted. They're tasked with saving the shooter, too, and the gang member, and every kid with severe problems in the home.
Even if you took the guns away, we still have 1.6 million homeless children in America. So, what do our governors say? Here in Ohio, John Kasich is in favor of merit pay for educators. That ass. Maybe teachers need combat pay. In Wisconsin, Scott Walker wants to deny teachers bargaining rights. In New Jersey, Chris Christie makes teachers' unions the villains of his play.
Meanwhile, critics ignore the fact that 72% of African-American kids, 59% of Hispanic kids and 37% of white children are born out of wedlock today.
LET'S PRETEND we haven't seen recent surveys, showing that one in five public school kids has been offered, has sold, or has been given illegal drugs at school. Is that the fault of the schools? Do all problems come down to bad teachers? Can we solve our troubles with vouchers so that frightened parents can take kids away to safer private schools? The shooters, the drug dealers, the gang members? They don't go away. What plan to fix education addresses these issues?
Meanwhile, innocent kids in Ohio are gunned down. We have no plans to fix that. Kids in New Jersey are homeless. We have no plans to fix that. Kids in Wisconsin grow up without the influence of fathers. We have no plans to fix that. The experts promise to fix schools. What plan is there to fix humanity, first, to fix society, to help students with serious mental health issues, to provide homes for the homeless, to lure gang members from the path of violence?
I know what it's like to have a gun in the classroom. Twenty-five years ago a young man brought a gun to school to shoot me and to shoot one of his wrestling teammates. His teammate had been taunting him about his weight and I had caught him drawing an obscene picture during study hall and told him he had to show it to his father. Luckily, he didn't shoot me and he didn't shoot his teammate, either. But ten years later he shot himself. My god, what a tragedy.
We have to stop listening to false promises, falling for absurd schemes, and start looking for realistic ways to help the kids that most need help.
MARCH 1: NEW EVIDENCE AND NEW TRAGEDY in Chicago today, two students were stabbed at Oliver Goldsmith School. One dead, the other injured, a third in custody. This time the school is run by a private contractor, AMIKids, Inc. and the campus for the school served twenty students with behavioral and emotional needs.
Do you know that in this country we already have 17,000 school resource officers roaming the halls? That's "cops," to you. And that's not enough?
My god, my god, what is our plan?