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A tale of two schools

September 27, 2013

We demand a lot from our schools today. They are supposed to function not just as educators, but police officers and parents. That’s a lot of  responsibility and how that societal role is filled says a lot about the people involved.

In Virginia, a school reacts to what is apparently hearsay reporting on the actions of two boys, not in the school or at a school-sponsored location, but in their own yard by summarily expelling them. Given that the media is prone to taking sides instead of just reporting, maybe there was more to the story than the media is reporting. Maybe the kids had issues with other kids or had been ongoing disciplinary problems at the school. Maybe they were just kids being kids. Who knows? Still, the school took it upon itself to handle the localized problem by ridding itself from having to deal with the students at all.

In Utah, a coach received reports that some of his football team members were cutting classes, and bullying other students. Bullying is a serious problem in our society today, and can and has caused everything from injuries to death. It is a big deal. Still, the coach responded by turning the reports into a life lesson for the whole team. Instead of just having the offenders expelled, thereby removing them from having to be dealt with on an ongoing basis, the coach turned the situation into a life lesson that benefited the whole team, not just the principal offenders. He identified the problem, consulted with school staff, assigned a real consequence for the actions, and applied a corrective measure that had a real reward in it for the student players. 

What’s the difference here?  The obvious one is that “guns” were involved in the first instance. Whether an airsoft pistol qualifies as a firearm is open to debate, but in a world where even kids biting a piece of toast into what someone called a gun shape is subject to a knee-jerk reaction by a school, it is certainly  sure to be seized upon as the “reason” for the extreme reaction. There doesn’t seem to have been any review, attempt to verify the facts or the slightest effort to educate the boys involved on proper gun safety, much less  teaching them to think ahead about the consequences of immature actions.

There is a much bigger difference. One school abandoned the students, and washed their hands of the situation. One school dealt with the problem by turning it into a teaching moment.

Which kids do you think got more out of the respective incidents?

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