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Front Page » August 23, 2011 » Opinion » Staff column: Teacher abuse takes place every day
Published 968 days ago

Staff column: Teacher abuse takes place every day


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By RICHARD SHAW
Sun Advocate publisher

Teacher abuse takes place every day Everyone hears about the teacher who hits the kid or does something else to a student for disciplinary reasons that they think is wrong. It always makes the news. Usually the teacher gets in big trouble, often losing their job and being banned from education for the rest of their lives.

But what few of us hear about is the abuse school staff must take from students, and from parents as well. Unless someone is murdered this seldom gets reported.

I worked directly in schools for 10 years in this state and spent another five as an adminstrator at the district level. I wasn't a teacher, but instead staff and I saw what school personnel have to put up with day after day. And that was a quarter of a century ago, supposedly a kinder and gentler time than today, although by my recollection it was neither kind nor gentle.

There are days now when I have to put up with a lot of garbage from people mad about this or that. I often get calls chewing me out on my voice mail; of course the person that calls using the foul language or derogatory terms in their message never leaves their name or number. The days I spent working in education prepared me well for those situations because I learned that cowards never give you a chance to defend yourself.

One of the things I also learned is that people get madder about something that has to do with their kids than they do anything else. I have never, even on the worst days here at the paper, taken abuse like I saw doled out against educators at one time or another when I worked in education.

Most of us relate school today to what happened to us when we were in school as students. Consequently I am not going to tell you about how things were when I was in school (you know the walk to school in three feet of snow uphill both ways). Regardless if you were a student in the 1950s or the 1980s things are a lot different now from then, just as it was between those two time periods. But it seems impatience about things and rudeness to others has grown over time. This is a disturbing trend.

As a school employee I had students and others throw things at me, call me the vialist of names, and threaten me physically (as well as with my job). As a government employee everyone thought they were your boss. I talk with educators regularly and they tell me about their trials and tribulations. I can't imagine what it must be like today. Maybe its my old age, but I wouldn't put up with what they do. I would blow my top and the powers that be would throw me out of the joint.

I guess my question is why anyone would even want to work in schools anymore? School employees get assailed from every quarter; by students, parents, politicians and the media. Sometimes it seems they are not regarded as normal human beings, but as slave servants that can be ordered and pushed around.

Last year at a high school in this state, a teacher pinned a member of one of his classes against the wall and came close to beating the tar out of the kid. The teacher was reprimanded, suspended and I know there is still a court case hanging over his head for the "assault". The media was all over it casting this teacher in the worst of light. The guy had a long career and outstanding credentials; was loved by much of the studentbody. What we didn't hear from the upstate media was why this happened and what led up to it. Of course the teacher is an adult and should have kept his head, that can be said. But in talking with the editor of the local paper in that community, this kid had been on him for a long time, saying things about him, his family and finally the thing that broke the camels back, the man's wife. The words the editor of that paper told me the kid used I will not print; suffice it to say that this kid would have pushed almost anyone's buttons. And he is known for it. Of course the parents said the kid was a good kid.

This isn't like the days of Eddie Haskell when kids were polite to parents and authority, and then were jerks and lowlifes to their peers. Today, it seems, everyone is a target.

As school starts parents and those who patronize schools need to remember that teachers, administrators and others who work at the schools are not perfect. They are people like the rest of us. They have dreams and aspirations, and they really want to do what is best for kids. Most do their very best to make sure your kids learn and work hard so they can have the skills to face the world.

Parents need to be fair when their child has a problem at school and weigh all the sides of what is going on. Sorry, but in the days when a teacher said one of my kids did something wrong in school the kid got the punishment, not the teacher. In my book he or she was guilty until proven innocent, because I knew my kids so well, and I realized how difficult they could be.

Respect comes from and starts at home. Youngsters who are taught that everyone should be respected despite their position or point of view seem hard to find these days.

Parents need to take the responsibility they have and teach the values of respect to their children.



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