I wish this was a clever analogy that referred to testing or lesson plans or anything else school related. Unfortunately, this is about school safety.
Last week, my wife’s week culminated with a gun being brought to school. It was not the first time that a gun had been brought to school. In fact, the same 5th grade student brought a gun previously, but with a group of accomplices was able to pass the gun, keeping it from detection. On Friday of last week, someone heard about the gun and assembled the group and confiscated the gun.
How did my wife hear about it? When a child in her classroom yelled out when the entered, “__________, has a gun.” My wife locked her class door and proceeded to try and get control of the classroom. Not surprisingly, the class didn’t have a good day.
This has been built on consistent threats from students in her class. It goes beyond just the usual tantrums. She has had children scream in her face with no repercussions. She has been caught in a middle of a fight, with no ability to get the child to listen to reason. Just last week, a kid threatened to kill her. Nothing happened to him.
So he brought a knife to elementary school today. Show and tell I’m sure.
Luckily, he talked about it on the bus and it was intercepted before he got into the school. Not that the administration told my wife. She heard about it from a counselor and then the child’s sister. Why would an administrator talk to her about it?
In a meeting last week, it was made clear that once a child is sent to the office, the punishment is squarely in the administrators’ hand. They won’t bother to tell the teacher what happened. They won’t tell them if their child was in a fight on the bus, or the cafeteria or art. Or, evidently, if they had a knife.
Following that start to her day, one of her students threw a marker at her and stormed out of the room. This a child who wouldn’t normally do this (as my wife said), but lost her cool and reacted to an argument. The child apologized and was back in the class by the end of the day.
Later, a second child decided to be silly in the hall, and, wearing her hoodie backwards, put the hood over her head so she couldn’t see (she could). She then proceeded to try and “guess” who people were by touch despite my wife’s protest. No less than 10 times, she told her to stop. Finally, the child stopped. . . .AFTER she groped my wife’s breast.
My wife called down to the office, but no one was available to come get this child. So she walked her entire class down to the office to drop this child off. Assaulted twice in one day. I expect both kids to be in class tomorrow.
Well, this is a district that rewards schools for lowering their suspension rate. My wife’s principal is constantly complaining about how other schools get awards for lowering their suspension rate. Her school is languishing.
So she responds.
Or more accurately, doesn’t respond. Very few suspensions. Kids ending up back in the classroom a mere hour later. No consequences.
Which signals to the kids that they can do what they want.
That’s why they assault teachers. That’s why they throw things at them. That’s why they threaten them. This is why no substitutes will come back to the school unless no other school will accept them. That’s why most kids are fearful. That’s why most teachers are fearful.
That’s why the kids in my wife’s classroom ask her if she is ok just as often as she asks them. They are all just trying to survive.
I wish my wife’s classroom was the exception, but it appears that every teacher is dealing with this. That’s why the office doesn’t respond. Too many problem children. That or the adminstrators are in district meeting watching other schools get awards that they so badly want.
Maybe they can win an award. If the kid with the knife only gets 5 days instead of the mandated 365 for bringing a weapon. Maybe if the child that assaulted my wife and has been a constant nuisance is back in the classroom with no punishment. Maybe then they can get that award.
I just hope that a funeral is not the price that needs to be paid for it.