Day 13: Classroom Assault

I was working on blog post 11 and 12 but stopped.

I hear endlessly that people don’t understand why there’s a teacher shortage, but the answer is simple. We don’t get paid enough. I’m not talking about being paid enough to cover supplies and random things we’d like to decorate our classrooms with. No, we do not get paid enough to put up with mental abuse from students, which some teachers deal with daily; more disturbing is the fear of being physically assaulted by a student.

In the last few months, the national news has been paying attention to two different attacks that happened to teachers. One was a six-year-old who shot his teacher, and the other was a fairly large ESE student who beat the living shit out of his para. If you have seen the attack video, you know there is no other way to describe what happened. While both incidents are horrible in their own right, they are not that unique. 

I have no answer, but reading over and over again that the schools failed is taking the easy way out. As a teacher who sees students of all learning abilities and ages, there is not one answer for why students in the public school system have become so toxic. Just as the mainstream media likes to blame the schools, I could easily blame the parents of these students. However, that’s unfair. I have been a part of parent-teacher conferences where parents do not understand why their children are cussing out the teachers or threatening them. At the same time, I’ve been a part of conferences where the parents are hostile and blame the teachers for their children’s behavior. 

An assault happened to one of my co-workers today, and while I can not openly discuss what happened with the teacher, if there had been a video, I’m sure it would have made the news. I don’t know how to handle discussing assaults on teachers. Yes, the public needs to be aware of the fucked up situations. However, I’m nervous that airing these incidents will cause copycats. 

Even if we never show or name another student in an assault case, students will still act out, and there need to be more severe consequences. I don’t know what other consequences are required, but suspensions aren’t enough. There are students who have told me they would rather get a two-day out-of-school suspension because they will watch Netflix the moment their parents leave. How is that a punishment for verbally assaulting an adult? How is that punishment for assaulting another student? How is out of out-of-school or in-school suspension a punishment for being late to class repeatedly? It isn’t. The students actively seek these out. I have a student that, the moment her boyfriend gets I.S.S or O.S.S. she tries to get whatever suspension he has so they can spend time with each other. 

While venting my frustrations, I suggested we should hold the parents more accountable. Maybe that might make those parents who ignore their children’s toxic behavior to become more aware. Maybe instead of I.S.S or O.S.S, the parents have to pay a fee after a student has received a certain amount of disciplinary referrals. It might make people more aware of the situation.

A lot of these assaults are perpetrated by students who can be classified as EBD. The mainstream media tend not to talk about students with disabilities. This is where a big Catch-22 comes in because we are now discussing disabilities.

A student with an emotional/behavioral disability has persistent (is not sufficiently responsive to implemented evidence-based interventions) and consistent emotional or behavioral responses that adversely affect performance in the educational environment that cannot be attributed to age, culture, gender, or ethnicity.  

Basically, once these students get the EBD label, they act as if they are invincible. Yes,some of these students actually have a disability where they cannot control their temper and outburst, and other things along those lines may happen. However, some students will cause harm and say, oh, I can’t help it because of whatever label they’ve been given.

I believe every child should receive an education and their best education.However, there has to be a line. I don’t think that students should return if they have already been to juvie for assaulting a police officer at the school. We need to establish a clear boundary. When do we put other students at risk because we want to ensure that everything is inclusive?

Not all behavior issues are attributed to disabilities. Some students are outright a*holes. It doesn’t matter their socioeconomic background or how good or bad their parents are. They’re just not good people. And it’s extremely unfortunate because no matter how hard their parents try, the students do not care.

So I am at a loss for what to do. Teachers shouldn’t have to worry about being verbally or physically assaulted by their students. Everybody deserves an education. But how many chances do students deserve before they are hindering everyone’s ability classroom? How many chances before the student causes disturbances that disrupt an entire school? What is the answer? I don’t know, maybe you do.

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