What is Happening?

Running in the back of my mind the last couple of days has been the question of where we are failing our students and our community at large. The question is a result of the report about the students in Riverton, Kansas, who posted on Myspace about their intent to conduct a Columbine-like killing spree at their high school.

Within a couple of days, I read about a “foiled plot” at an Alaskan middle school where a group of seventh graders compiled a “hit list” of students and staff members who would be the victims of their assault.

Today as I read The Education Wonks, I learned about three more intentions of school violence planned by high schoolers in Washington, Minnesota and Louisiana.

So, what is going on? What is happening to these kids to cause them to act out in such a vengeful and violent manner? I realize that April 20th was the anniversary of the Columbine shootings, but could the anniversary really be what is inspiring these students to formulate these plans? What are we doing as educators, parents and community members to make sure our children do not fester into these alienated, malicious students (and eventually adults) who are bent on revenge?

I don’t know… maybe I am making too much of this. Maybe this sort of thing happens all the time and the media is reporting on it more avidly since it is the anniversary of Columbine, but even if this is the case, it is still disturbing that within a week’s time there have been so many instances of violent school plots.

So, as educators, what do we do? Do we install metal detectors in all the schools and conduct schools as if they are prisons in lock-down mode? I hope not. I hope we try to figure out a way to reach these students before they get to their breaking points. I hope we attempt to install in our students an appreciation of differences, a love of humankind, a desire to improve their lives and help others. I think this is the only way we will save our schools, our students and our future.

Explore posts in the same categories: Education, Myspace, News

3 Comments on “What is Happening?”

  1. I must admit that my first thought when reading all of the recent news about these incidents was “does all of this happen all of the time and we just don’t hear about it, or is there really some sort of crisis going on?”.

    Regardless of what the answer is — I think overall we can do a much better job of building relationships with our young people. We can do this in a number of ways — through resizing schools so that teachers aren’t responsible for so many students, creating “Advocacy” classes where one teacher works with a group of students to build more personalized relationships and help stay on track with studies, and developing “care teams” of teachers and administrators who monitor student data to watch for “at-risk” indicators, etc.

    The other part of this equation is, of course, parents and community. Parents need to be involved with their students — who their friends are, where and how they are spending their free time, how they are doing in school, etc.

    I hate to lay blame on NCLB — it gets so much heat already — but the reality is that in the past couple of years I have seen administrators in schools cut time allocated for “character education” in order to make more time for test prep.

    When we devalue “character ed” because it takes time away from preparing for the test — what kind of message are we sending to our children?

  2. LeftLaneEnds Says:

    great post and response – these are the kids that I love the most. the ones that don’t think they are noticed, the ones that are bright and don’t feel like they shine. planning actions like this are not an excuse to focus our attention on the ones that slip through, but I have always felt called to look for those that slip through the cracks. as the response indicates, I think that we have more cracks now than ever before.

  3. astephens Says:

    Thank you both for your thoughtful responses. Hopefully after hearing all of the recent news, parents, students and teachers will feel called to begin reaching out to the students who feel neglected, under-appreciated and unimportant.

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