Through the years we’ve learned that many things besides the traditional teaching of reading, writing and arithmetic go on in our children’s school’s. Things that should never take place there. Sometimes we learn of these things directly from our children or by way of the parent grapevine. Other times we learn the hard way by which I mean the media. There’s nothing worse then seeing school’s being dragged through the mud on TV or the newspapers by a press who seem to revel in exposing the flaws in the school system or any system for that matter.
Leading the list of school ills is school related shootings and guns on campuses. Since the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December of last year which left 28 dead, there have been 11 school related shootings so far this year, resulting in 8 deaths and 12 injured. A recent study by NBC News in which they searched through national news reports from a one month period, equivalent to 23 school days, showed that there were 48 instances where guns were found on students or in their lockers, roughly 2 incidents per day. And those were only the students who were caught. How many more guns are actually being brought to school? Scary thought.
Then of course there is an ongoing problem with the abuse and molestation of young students by teachers or other school staff. Because of the secretive nature of these acts many of the incidents go unreported. But when they are reported they often make national headlines. Take the incident at Miramonte Elementary School in South Los Angeles for example, where last year a well regarded, veteran teacher was charged with 23 counts of lewd acts upon children. In the weeks that followed another teacher was arrested for abuse and it was reported that two teacher aides had previously been fired after being accused of child abuse. What a mess! A real black eye for schools everywhere.
Then there is the problem of teachers engaging in sex and carrying on relationships with their students at the middle school and high school level. At first glance you’d probably think it was only dirty old men teachers taking advantage of young ,teenage female students, but truth be told it is female teacher -student sex cases that are on the rise in the U.S. Nearly every state is reporting cases. the U.S. Department of Education reported back in 2004 that 40% of sexual attention cases towards children were committed by women and that that number has been steadily rising ever since. I looked for current percentages but strangely enough the DOE doesn’t have any posted. So what’s going on? Women teachers having casual sex and in some cases ongoing relationships with underage minors? I have only one question? WHY? I guess I’ll have to look into it and write about at another time.
Of course shootings and sex aren’t the only things troubling our schools today. In the social arena there are the same old problems that we all faced particularly in middle and high school, peer pressure, bullying, alcohol, and drugs are still an ever present danger. Add to the mix the pressure that is put on students to perform well on state standardized tests, AP exams and college exams like the SAT and ACT and you can see that today’s students have more than enough to contend with.
Then there’s the classroom itself and the multitude of problems within. Each classroom is a virtual Pandora’s box, a source of extensive problems or troubles. One of my college professors always called the classroom the box as in Pandora, because of its potential for problems. And life in the box goes on. Sadly, many teachers simply can’t get the job done. they just don’t know how to reach or handle the youth of today. Many have thrown in the towel and have chosen to become entertainers instead of educators. They have no discernible classroom management skills and are unable to take charge or control classroom behavior. The end result is that very little learning ever takes place and valuable educational time is wasted everyday.
So what is the answer? What can be done to ease the woes of our schools, make them safer and improve the quality of education? Will passing stiffer gun laws and enacting tougher penalties really make schools safer? How do we curb the rise in child sexual abuse in schools and ease tension? How do we ensure that our teacher’s are not latent perverts, but qualified individuals in whose capable hands we can leave our children?
I think the answer is obvious. The time has come to enact much stiffer hiring practices. Potential teachers should be better screened and made to go through the same extensive battery of psychological testing that law enforcement and other high level security employers subject potential employees to, including polygraph testing, and extensive background checks only in this way will the safety of our children be served.
To serve their educational needs we need to work to improve the number of highly qualified teachers available to teach our children. teachers who are better trained, more prepared and organized. Teachers who are not only masters of their subject area, but who can motivate and engage students. Teachers who are passionate about educating children and understand the importance of life in the box. I’m a firm believer that the quality of a child’s education begins with the quality of his teacher.