Life in the local urban school district is not easy for its students. This certainly is not new information and should not be surprising. Quality teaching professionals in the city system root for their students. Admittedly, they find the respectful, non-trouble making pupils easier to manage and work with, but that is neither here nor there since there is little choice in the makeup of students in the inner city public schools. But, what if a “good” student ends up being an unthinkable problem?
It does not need to be Halloween season for the reader to see the potential scariness of such a reality. With all the local, state, and especially national news we hear about school shootings, bomb threats, and violence these days, is it any wonder that every urban educator is understandably a little “on edge” as they report to work each day? Even so, local inner city teaching professionals, regardless of their years of experience or anxiety level, in their human condition, naturally tend to let down their guard just a little with those whom they perceive as their good students.
Take one student, who was never a behavior problem – at least, not during his recent high school career. He attended his classes. His teachers had nothing but positive things to say about him and he had no discipline record to speak of. An adolescent, albeit not particularly “bright”, appeared to be on track with his peers to graduate in the not-too-distant future.
Then, one day – bam, pop, screech! For reasons not entirely clear – boredom, stupidity, immaturity, or just plain attention-seeking – a young man makes a decision that will change his life; or, at the very least, will change where he finishes out his high school days in the foreseeable future. Thanks to readily available electronic messaging, a whimsical idea becomes permanent record, exposing a student’s sick minded “jollies”, threatening to mass-destruct an entire school with all his peers’ witness. Surely, this young man had not even an inkling that a few laughing moments would land him upside down and unable to “pass go”.
We live in a new world nowadays and the events of our local urban schools, in particular, spotlight new realities. To be sure, though, there have been great gains in how local city schools address the safety concerns of our era in response to unpredictable times. However, if we cannot be assured of our well-behaved, perceivably well-adjusted youth, what solid footing do we really have? It takes all eyes and ears to protect and maintain a safe school environment for our learners, educators, and the like. Indeed, there is still much work to be done.