It’s been a rough few days in the K-12 community:
- Highland H.S. student Ryan Vigil is killed, evidently by some guy who was mad about having golf balls thrown at him and just happened to have a gun lying around the apartment.
- The Associated Press puts out an extensively researched national report on sexual misconduct among K-12 teachers and then has follow-up state-by-state profiles on state data and individual cases.
The stories are very different, but in both cases chilling. From what I hear, Highland H.S. has been understandably left in a numbed haze by the killing of Vigil. I wonder how the added “throwing golf balls” element will play into the confusion, hurt and grief over the matter in coming days.
I know it’s self-centered to think from this angle, but teaching at Highland has got to be very, very difficult in coming weeks, if not longer. It’s going to be tough for everybody in that community, and it reminds us that schools, especially high schools, are very much communities.
And speaking of the educator angle, what can you say about the teacher sexual misconduct story? The AP report(s) the last few days are reminiscent of the first organized wave of pedophile priest stories a decade or so ago. There have always been individual outrageous stories about teacher misconduct (recent APS substitute teacher stories, e.g.), but the AP synthesizes all the outrageousness into a package that will probably lead to actions similar to those regarding priests, with the difference being the bureaucracy involved.
One wonders how governments will handle needed changes to teacher screening, policing and enforcement relative to the actions of the Catholic Church in this regard. One also wonders how governments around the country will mishandle, politicize and fragment over this issue in coming months. K-12 education unfortunately combines three elements almost certain to result in mishandling, politicization and fragmentation: kids, sex, and “states’ rights”. Doubtlessly, this will end ugly.
And yeah, it’s a little tough to go to a teaching job you love when all you’ve got on your mind is some dead kid and sex predators. Thankfully, the kids will arrive, the bell will ring, the lessons will start and the beautiful dynamic of teaching will push these sad thoughts back, at least for a short while.
Meanwhile, at Highland H.S. sad thoughts will be the lesson. Hang in there guys. I know it doesn’t help much, but we’re thinking of you.