Public School Violence and Rumors of Violence in South Georgia
A parent just called asking us to watch for strange people. (He says that there was a drive by shooting this morning at Colquitt County elementary school in Moultrie Georgia and that several bomb threats have been called in and all students have been sent home. I cannot confirm this online.)
However, the message from the superintendent from yesterday says the following:
On Thursday, April 19, 2007, a message threatening violence was reported to have been sent from the home computer of a freshman student at Colquitt County High School. It was investigated and the student was removed from school. The police were notified. During the evening hours rumors began spreading of acts of violence to occur at Colquitt County High School today to commemorate the anniversary of Columbine. The rumors continue to be investigated, but at this point there has been no indication that there is a basis. The Moultrie City Police and the Colquitt County Sheriff’s Department are maintaining an increased presence at the schools and particularly Colquitt County High School. School officials are on alert for any actions that may be out of the ordinary. I ask your help in addressing any rumors as together we work through difficult times to assure student safety and to eliminate rumors.
Leonard McCoy, Superintendent, Colquitt County Schools
*Note: Mr. McCoy has also sent a phone message to all Colquitt County Schools parents with the contents of this message.
There's nothing on the Internet yet but I'll share more when I find it. Who knows if the rumors are true.? Yet another reason for a text messaging notification system! What if something DID happen but parents were assured on this old message? What if something didn't happen and people panicked because they don't trust administrators to post the most current information? We want our kids to be safe and know each moment if they are!
I do know that the Albany school system yesterday was on code yellow and the teachers were there until after 5pm yesterday getting the students home.
But its not just south Georgia
Look at the headlines today on Google News:
- Classes Cancelled at Lewis-Clark State University because of threat
- School Districts Nationwide Scramble to Handle Threats (from the Police Com website)
- School Threats Surge following Virginia Tech Tragedy
Perhaps by glorifying Cho and his viewpoints, the media has unwittingly made him a martyr and symbol for many disenfranchised, disincluded youth.
This is what we need to learn from this on the day of mourning for the Virginia Tech victims and the anniversary of the shooting at Columbine:
1) Children cannot learn unless they FEEL safe
(aka Maslow's heirarchy of needs) Such things as have happened unsettle us all. The environment right now in our public schools is one of unrest. That is what people are telling me. How can a student do well on their test when they are worried about dying? (Whether it is a real or perceived threat.)
2) Every child is important! It only takes just one to greatly effect others.
3) We need SMS notification systems using cell phones to help create better safety nets for our children.
(So we can text issues to parents immediately. We're going to use Airset which is a free system and put it in this summer. We don't trust a website without a date on the posting. And when such messages are posted, they should be dated with a date and time and updated frequently to give parents peace of mind!)
4) We need to throw our hearts at the problem and not just throw money at it. Students need people who care!
We can create metal detectors but no heart detector has ever been created that will find evil plans in the human heart. A good teacher is the closest thing we will ever have to a heart detector besides a good parent.
5) We need to trust teachers.
Teachers saw the danger coming at Virginia Tech. Trust the teachers and listen to them for indeed many of them have insight into their students rivaled by only their parents.
Will a glass wall between the student and teacher make it safer? Will kids learn?
I think of my friend at another school that I was talking to yesterday. There are thinking of installing glass walls to protect the teachers from the students. How can learning theories be adjusted for such an environment!
You can't give an F
Another teacher says that after she turned in her grades last period she was given them back and told, “You cannot give anything below a 70.” We can't pass them to another grade level if they do not pass your class. So, you have to pass them. No choice. She was told to change her grades.
My grades are sacred. Students earn grades and any time they are given, it teaches students that they have a right to be given other things they haven't earned.
If you give an F you have to write an essay
Another public school teacher piped up and said, “Well, they allow us not to pass students but then we have to write an action plan that takes at least 3 hours and so the teachers have said they are just going to give 70's.”
The idea of not passing kids to another grade level unless they pass is a noble one. The idea of giving 70's to keep too many kids from being held back is repugnant.
Teaching is a noble profession and superintendants and principals who participate in such behavior, although it may be for valid budgetary reasons, are asking teachers to be untrue to everything they stand for!
No one has the answers
I don't profess to have the answers. I do profess to bring the controversial to my blog so that it will bring it to the attention to the many of you who read here who know more than I do about the answer. If you have insight, share it. Blog it. Comment it. If you have wisdom in this matter, I believe it is your responsibility to help all educators move through a tough time.
Testing, Thinking and Mourning
This is also the time of year that we test. I am very sad today. Sad and thinking. Thinking about what our country needs to be and where we're going. Sad because every child deserves to be safe and every child, teacher, and administrator deserve to be treated with respect. Just sad.
The Darkest Times create the greatest men and women in history
But I know this. The greatest men and women in the history of the world have risen to the top not during peace and prosperity but during the darkest hours of human existence.
Do not give up and cocoon but make a difference where you are!
Tell your students that you love them. I don't know about you, but I admire professor Liviu Librescu who held the door closed to the gunman while his students escaped through the windows. CBS news says:
At 76-years-old, the engineering professor blocked the door to his classroom on Monday morning to allow students to escape out the window. Some of the last ones to make the jump looked back to see Librescu killed by bullets from the gun of Cho Seung-Hui.
Good Teachers hold the door every day
A good teacher can save lives. A good teacher pours out their own life, maybe not in a moment as professor Librescu did but every day.
Teachers stand between the world an anarchy. Teachers are the bridge from one civilized society to another. Teaching is a noble profession and out of every profession on this planet, I am proud that I am a teacher.
I will love my students. I will comfort my students.
I will hold the door every day of my life.
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