Thursday, June 13, 2013

Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

Early in my teaching career I learned that no matter what we do, we’re going to be criticized in the media for it.

One year a huge snow storm hit the valley and our district decided to cancel classes because of it.  Headlines read something like “Schools closed, parents left scrambling for daycare upset.

The very next year we had another huge snowstorm, much like the one the year before.  Fearing the backlash they got the year before (my assumption) the district decided to keep the schools open.  This time the headlines read something like “Schools open despite snow, parents upset by dangerous conditions, many keep kids home.

I have no idea how many were the same parents complaining both years, but the fact remains no matter what the decision, there was going to be a hissy-fit.

I remembered this lesson as I was reading the comments on this Facebook post:

This 7th grade student from Canada got in trouble with his school for STOPPING a dispute between two students, one of which pulled out a knife! The school says they don't "condone heroics" and he should have ran to get a teacher! Just another example of what is wrong with the world today. I'm glad he had the courage to act, and stop a situation that could have ended badly. LIKE if you think he did the right thing!  Story and interview here.

All of the comments I read (only about 20) were critical of the school’s actions.  Some were downright furious and a few were just this side of asking for the public lynching of the school’s administration.

I’m not saying the kid should be punished for what he did, frankly it would be nice if more kids would stand up against bullies.  And according to the article, anyone who works in a school would realize he wasn’t actually punished.  He wasn’t suspended, issued a detention or even written up for it.

He was called down to the office to answer questions about the incident and reminded that he put himself in a dangerous situation which was against school policy.  Questioning and reminding go on in a school every day, not too many students would consider either a punishment. 

What really annoys me is that these people refuse to look at it from the school’s point of view.  The kid put himself in the middle of a knife fight.  How many of these people bitching and moaning, the parents included, would be even more upset if this kid had got himself stabbed?  “The school should have done something to protect him?” “He should have known to just go get a teacher.”  I would bet a full month’s paycheck that someone would come out with “They should tell the kids not to put themselves in a dangerous situation.”

Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.  My job became a lot less stressful when I finally came to terms with that.


Lisa Shafer said...

Oh, so true!
The boy who shot himself at a school in our district this year: the media's trying to make it the SCHOOL'S fault because the kid had gotten suspended earlier. I'm sorry the boy made the wrong decision, but it was not the school's fault he overreacted to a consequence of some other action he'd performed.
This is also why I don't think it's a good idea for teachers to have guns in school. If they used them to defend someone, they'd be in trouble for using guns in students' presence or for something like "inciting the assailant towards more violence." If they had a gun and chose not to use it, then they'd become nearly criminal for not doing this, that, or the other. It would be impossible to do the right thing, either way.

Max Sartin said...

Oh yea, that one infuriates me. What about the parents? The kid gets suspended from school for bullying and somehow gets hold of his parent's gun. How is that the school's fault?
Good points on the teachers with guns, I'd never considered the no-win situation that puts them in. Don't react - shoulda reacted. react - just made things worse. Guess I'll stop bringing my gun to work now. (Just kidding, I don't even own one.)