Unless you’ve been living underneath a rock, you’ve undoubtedly heard about the recent tragedy at Spring High School. Those of us in the political commentary business (though it pays poorly) often get accused of using tragedy to our own advantage. The left accuses the right of doing it and the right accuses the left of doing it. In point of fact, we all do it. It’s Monday morning quarterbacking at its very best.
This tragedy is really no different. Parents are clamoring for changes at the school and for some heads to roll. One editorial writer claimed that the parents were the main concern. The Chronicle came out with a staff editorial that was a lot more even-handed this week.
I understand the backlash from the educator end. Go back a couple of decades (or more) and our job was a lot easier. No, this isn’t about bad parenting as much as educators would have us believe. There’s a lot more pressure on us to perform on state testing. Superintendents, central office administrators, and principals have it the worst. They pass that pressure down to us and then we have to deal with it.
As you might imagine, some people deal with pressure better than others. Some of us do the best we can and roll with the punches. Others choose to pass the blame down the line when results don’t happen. I regretfully admit that I’ve walked a mile in those shoes as well. It’s easy to point the finger at bad parenting because it’s largely true. You find yourself a large enough blanket and you can successfully generalize to a large enough population.
Whether that sentiment is true or not, it really makes no difference in the day to day operations of a school. We have to do the best we can with what we have to work with. A large part of avoiding the blame game is taking a step back and looking at ourselves in the mirror. If we can honestly say we did the best we could then we go home satisfied. If we can’t then we have to go back to the drawing board.
From the parent end, they have to realize that all educators want what is best for kids. We may not always agree on how that should get done, but no one wants tragedy. No one wants any young child to get hurt or lose their life in school violence. That being said, sometimes youngsters make bad choices and sometimes we are unable to prevent the damage they may wreak.
Whether we are talking about Sandy Hook or Spring High School we have to remember two very important things. First, none of us can control anyone else’s behavior 100 percent of the time. People have free will to make choices and all we can do is teach them the best we can to make the right choice. Secondly, no matter how many rules or laws are on the books, we cannot prevent all tragedies. All we can do is institute policies and procedures that will minimize tragedy as best we can.
As someone once told me when I was young, when I point the finger at someone else, there are three fingers pointed back at me. If each of us can go in to any situation focused on what we can do to make it better then we will likely be much better off than if we simply point the finger at another group and assert that it’s their fault.