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Daily Journal
March 7, 2023
#87-66 KDJ

It's hard to be a teacher these days

By Ron Jackson

You do nothing, you get shot. You take immediate corrective action, you get put on administrative leave. It’s a tale of two teachers that demonstrate the constant dilemma that all classroom teachers face. The teacher struggle has become as classic as the opening line from the novel “A Tale of Two Cities”: “It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.”

Very early this year, a teacher at a Virginia elementary school was shot by a first-grade student. Fortunately, she survived. Many opportunities were missed or ignored to prevent the shooting. For still unknown reasons, several chances to intervene didn’t happen. The end result was a few administrators were removed from duty.

In February this year, two other instances occurred with a 6-year-old taking a gun to school. One in Pennsylvania and the other in a North Carolina elementary school. In both cases, the guns were taken before any harm could be done, and two parents have been charged with some degree of negligence.

Meanwhile, thousands of miles from the East Coast, a Texas school district has placed an elementary teacher on administrative leave while it investigates her response to classroom misconduct. The teacher, with the assistance of two students, taped a disruptive 10-year-old to a chair resulting in an “Oh My God this should never happen to a child” overreaction from the administration. And from an appalled parent.

The child was taped to a chair with his arms free because he would not be still. He was not physically harmed, although a classmate apparently influenced by an Oscar’s Award Show did verbally threaten him saying, “I’m going to slap you as hard as Will Smith slapped Chris Rock.”

The threat was never carried out. But it does show the extent of the misbehaving child’s disruption to the learning process. The student freed himself from the tape and went to a designated “cool down” section of the classroom before asking to see the school nurse who reported the incident.

Once the incident was relayed to the parent, the administration removed the teacher from the class. Of course, after the mom’s defense that, “No matter what he did, you don’t do that to a child. He’s not an animal,” the school began its investigation.

The mother, assuming no responsibility, also attacked the school district for not caring or protecting her child, claiming, “My son was in your care and you’re supposed to protect him from things like this but, it seems you’re only worried about the teacher.”

Be it a bullet or behavior, any distraction from the limited time teachers have to fulfill their responsibilities is harmful. Instead of pointing out what teachers should never do, the message should be what teachers should never have to do.

Teachers should not have to interrupt their teaching to be parents or correctional or resource officers. Teachers should not have to physically protect the majority of students who come prepared to learn from 6 to 10-year-old’s who haven’t been taught to respect the rights of others and that they cannot run roughshod over the classroom.

Teachers should not have to deal with defiant kids who tend to know their constitutional rights to act out of order. Teachers should only be held responsible for effectively implementing the skills they were hired to do.

While this teacher has been forbidden to do her job, the child was permitted to return to school the next day to a new classroom and new teacher. Although the parent did not report any corrective method on her part, she did demand that the teacher be fired and charged.

Imagine working in this type of constant disruptive environment while being held solely responsible for the academic proficiency for every student in your charge.

Just a little appreciation before the official Teachers Appreciation Month, can be said best by paraphrasing the title of a Three 6 Mafia rap song, “It’s hard out here for a teacher.”

Ron Jackson can be contacted through the Daily Journal at editors@daily-journal.com.

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