Who are the lions and who are the Christians?
A Baltimore City school teacher was recently sentenced to 10 years in jail with all but three months suspended. Ten years is a long time even though the teacher will not be serving this time. What did he do? Oh, nothing too much, just slammed a skinny 7-year olds head into a cinder block wall causing the child to have a concussion, developmental delays and nightmares. Prior to the injury the boy was very outgoing, now he was too timid to even state his name in court.
What behavior caused this reaction from the teacher? Evidently a couple of other kids told the teacher that the boy had brought a gun to school. According to the teacher’s report, he was trying to turn the boy so he could see to walk to the principal’s office and somehow his head got slammed into the wall. The teacher did not know how that happened!! However, the video of the event tells a very different story. The judge’s comment was that if you saw the video you had to be horrified. In issuing the sentence, the judge called the behavior of the teacher “a monstrous act”. Yet only three months needed to be served! Explain that?
But, in my mind the situation gets worse. Multiple members of the school’s staff showed up at the trial wearing t-shirts supporting the teacher. Over forty-three people sent letters in his behalf. The boy’s mother reported that not a single member of the school reached out to her to say they were sorry or to ask how her boy was doing.
Let’s take the worst-case scenario. What if the boy was a recurring discipline problem. If that were true, there was no mention of it in the news article. He was described as a skinny boy with short hair who was too afraid to approach the judge without holding his mother’s hand. Why were all these school people supporting a colleague who, by the judge’s evaluation, had committed a monstrous act. This was not a conflict of first-person reports. There was a video of the event! I would think that honorable professionals would have wanted this guy drummed out of the corps rather than have t-shirts made cheering him on. Eventually, the “gun” discovered was a plastic cap gun. Sure his mom should not have allowed him to take it to school, but the reaction seems to be a bit over the top.
Last spring another Baltimore City teacher was discharged for punching a student in the child’s stomach. His excuse was that child would not settle down and was pushing him around. That boy was a middle school student. One of the kids in that class told a volunteer “the teacher really doesn’t like us, so we just try to stay out of his way.”
As a profession, we seem to be obsessed with having teachers pass tests to see if they have sufficient knowledge to be in the classroom. Perhaps we are giving the wrong tests. It seems to me we have lost our way if we are staffing our classrooms with people who are violent with our kids and other staff are leaping to their defense. Who are the lions and who are the Christians?