When students assault teachers
My e-mail box was flooded this morning with messages from people outraged by my story today about a teacher assault at Reginald F. Lewis High that was captured on video on a student's cell phone. People are stunned by the statistic: the school system has expelled students 112 times so far this academic year for assault on staff, compared with 98 times at this time last year. And the teachers union is charging that more assaults were not reported.
In reporting a story like this, my fear is that the public will view all city students as "running wild" (as Dr. Alonso said at the board meeting last month, when he asked the union to talk in specifics rather than generalizations). My perception is that at many schools, a few disruptive kids can make the numbers look bad for everyone. It's also important to keep in mind that if a teacher or other staff member tries to break up a fight and a student hits that adult accidentally, that's grounds for expulsion, and those incidents are included in the 112 figure.
At the same time, I hear from a lot of folks who believe that our schools are sending kids the message that inappropriate behavior won't be punished. Now there's a school system-teachers union task force to address the issue of teacher assaults in particular and school violence in general. Members will try to come up with strategies to improve the situation.