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Education's "bizarre obsession"
Two recent cases highlight why the preoccupation with "help and support" for misbehavior can be so harmful
Originally published by the Moultrie News.
Your article about the teacher who was shot by her kindergartener is an extreme example of disorderly conduct. But students like that need our help and support, not treated like outcasts and criminals.
You picked a bad week to make this claim.
There’s a bizarre obsession in education with providing “help and support” for shooters, bullies, disrupters, defiers, predators, intimidators, and general jerks. It’s a bona fide obsession because it focuses exclusively on service for these individuals without a glint of attention for the students and teachers they terrorize.
Where was the support for Georgia teacher Tiwana Turner? On January 30, she was viciously attacked by a ninth-grade student for having the audacity to redirect the girl’s off-task behavior. Before grabbing, pushing, and striking the teacher repeatedly, the student yelled, “I don’t give a f— if you’re an adult or not!”
Throughout the violent assault, other students — who eschewed helping the teacher in favor of filming her attack — reacted with whooping and laughter like spectators at a wrestling match. Tiwana’s leg was broken, and she has been hospitalized.
The student in Tiwana’s case was arrested and suspended — too late, obviously, to do Tiwana any good, but at least that’s more support than schools offered 14-year-old New Jersey student Adriana Kuch, who, on February 1, endured a lynch-style attack with tragic consequences.
The 5-2, 98-pound Adriana was jumped, struck repeatedly in the face with a 20 oz. water bottle, and brutally battered by a group of female classmates. The assault (stop me if you’ve heard this before) was filmed on cellphones while students cheered. The video ends with one student proclaiming, “That’s what you get, you stupid a— b—.”
Which of the following could be considered “help and support” for Adriana? That no one bothered to call an EMS, though she blacked out during the assault? That principals did not bother to report the attack to police? Or was it that Adriana was issued the same school suspension as her attackers?
Don’t think this collage of staggering indifference was an oversight. It’s educational policy. Adriana’s superintendent, Triantafillos Parlapanides, in one of the most repugnant quotations ever uttered by a community servant, said no police report was filed because “We normally just suspend. If a parent wants to press charges, they can with the police. We’re not going to double-whammy a kid where they are suspended and then police charges as well.”
That statement graphically flaunts the bizarre obsession that is destroying our schools, repelling our teachers, and killing our children. He’s telling us that it would be wrong to “double-whammy” the assailants with both suspension and police intervention because that would be … what? Unfair? Unjust? Hard on their self-esteem?
And if Adriana insisted on justice and protection, well, according to her superintendent, that’s on her parents to figure out. Hear that, Mom and Dad? If you want your daughter to feel secure in school, you have to bear the entire load. But if your daughter bullies and berates, then school policies and federal law will have her back — and will provide all the “help and support” the system can muster to ease her struggle. No responsibility from you is required.
What backward age are we living in?
Tragically, two days after students distributed videos of Adriana’s beating online, she ended her own life. Her father, who reported the assault to police in the absence of school intervention, said, "Getting hit with a water bottle didn't hurt Adriana. What hurt her was the embarrassment and humiliation.”
On February 8, (stop me if you’ve heard this before) disgusted students at Adriana’s high school walked out in protest of a system that is intentionally failing to protect them. On February 11, Superintendent Parlapanides resigned. Unfortunately, his replacement will likely inherit his attitudes as they adhere obediently to current educational dogma.
One student protester, sophomore Roman Valez, told reporters, “Adriana took her own life because nobody at the school was able to help or care or step in. I would actually like to teach the people who bully what they're actually doing."
So would I. And not just the bullies, but the administrators, school boards, politicians, and superintendents who aid and abet them with their bizarre obsessions.
Read the original column here.
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