Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Shooting at Chardon High School

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?


  1. The problem starts at home. This tragedy is nothing to do with our educational system. We have a generatiion of parents or should i say non-parents supposedly raising these kids. My son is a high school student at Sycamore. Two weeks ago i received a call from his teacher stating that he was disrupting her class. I sent a folow up email to his teacher yesterday and guess what? He has not disrupted class since i had a talk with him.That is what a real parent does. regardless of social class. So back to my point It starts at home! Teachers can only inform with no real power to do anything. Bottom line Kids are raising themselves in todays society. That cant be fixed in public schools.

  2. Where is God in the schools? OH,I forgot they took Him out and any control.Now there are gangs and violence. LORD HELP US!!

  3. God Bless our teachers and our children and our coachs , bus drivers and para's and all who are involved in our kids lives oh i forgot we took God out of our schools and we wonder why what a shame I say lets put God back in our schools and let him do His work .

  4. Maybe if his parents had taken the child to Church he might have learn about how we are supposed to be Christ to each other and the shooting might not have happened. When was the last time YOU went to church? One's religious beliefs about God should be taught in CHURCH and REINFORCED at home and NOT at SCHOOL. You create outsiders of those who do not have the same religious beliefs as you. It didn't happen because of no God in school it happened because a lot of PEOPLE failed that boy from day one. I agree totally with John and you are clouding the issue.

  5. Good values help; but I don't think our biggest problem is taking the Bible out of the school. I think taking the dad out of the house is probably more of an issue.

  6. You are right! take the abusive non-parent out. And to go with this God in schools thing. That is such a tired argument. It is not a teachers job to teach my child about God or mohamed for that matter. As a parent it is my responsibility to raise my child with whatever morals or religeous beliefs i want them to have. If you would teach God at home rather than expect a teacher to instill Your beliefs that excuse would be non-existant. LETS ALL BLAME GOVERNMENT AND PUBLIC SCHOOLS FOR NOT ALLOWING GOD IN SCHOOLS. But please dont ask me what i have taught my child about God.

  7. teaching moralistic views and teaching religion are two different things. So please let us not cloud the argument with religion. You don't have to be religious to uphold are teach good moral values.

  8. The "god" argument is nonsense. First off, prayer and other non-disruptive forms of worship are allowed in public schools, but teachers and other faculty can't lead it. Simple. Secondly, a person can be moral without religion, and a religious person is not magically granted morality. Thirdly, religious schools are by no means free of violence and drugs. If kids in these schools are better at hiding it, their ability to do so has a lot to do with their family resources and their drive to do so has a lot to do with the pressure to keep up appearances. Coming from someone who's been in both public and private schools in the same area of the Midwest.

    John, I largely agree with you. I'm uncomfortable with the implication that marriage itself is important to children, given how this argument is used to demonize single mothers (particularly single mothers of color) and to deny rights to same-sex couples. But then, it's important to recognize that the married household is legally and financially advantaged over others if we want to adopt any reform that will help children who live in other kinds of households. (Or we could adopt the Religious Right approach, and try to castigate people until they do the "right" thing and get married.)

    1. Diane, I understand what you're saying. I'm more intent on showing that many of the problems we have "in" schools are related to problems in the home.

      Like you, I don't believe color has anything at all to do with the subject, but I do believe, that two parents at home (and I should say married or unmarried) are better than one. All I had were statistics on children born out of wedlock, though.

      I would suspect, if the parents are together, then marriage certificate or not, the kids are doing better.