One of my former students was arrested for murder Monday night. He is accused of murdering a 15 year old boy last Wednesday. You can go to USA today for more information on the actual story. I am not here to write about the facts of the case.
What I do want to write about is the fact that it is now Thursday and there has been no outreach from my District offering guidance or support on this tragic event. No grief counselors to speak with teachers and students. No press release. No statement at all.
The murder took place at approximately 9pm on Wednesday November 6th. The next morning, not 10 hours later, the accused was sitting in his 1st period class. He passed me in the hallway, asked me when my baby was due, and went on his way.
It took my students a few days to hear what had happened. After that, they came to me and my fellow teachers asking “Why?”.
They asked me about their safety and I couldn’t give them an answer. They asked me who they could go talk to, and again I couldn’t answer. Due to apparent avoidance on behalf of my District, the teachers have nothing to tell the students. No number to call, no official statement on the security of our schools.
You can talk to me, I say.
I sit and listen.
I listen to them say that they know that there are gangs and drugs, but murder is a whole different thing.
I listen to their fear.
I don’t tell them that “It will be ok.” I won’t lie to my students anymore. Every urban educator knows that metal detectors and police/safety officers don’t keep weapons out of our schools. Our kids know that as well. They know who smuggles in knives and who they can go to if they need a gun. They know how to hide box cutters in their shoes and how to pass the pat downs.
I don’t tell them that the teachers know this too. That we spend a significant amount of time trying to protect our students from those we know are in school only to recruit for gangs or to sell drugs. That we plead for help.
I don’t tell them that our cries are lost in a broken system that tells us to document behaviors of “difficult” students. We are told that we aren’t being sensitive enough to their home lives, culture, or frankly that the student doesn’t come to school enough to warrant action to remove them.
I don’t tell them that I am scared too. That for the first time in my life, I am afraid to go to work.
That gangs and drugs are one thing, but murder is another.
Maybe it’s because I am 9 months pregnant and a little anxious, but it’s hard to dismiss so easily. Saying that diminishes my co-workers who are also scared and responsible for maintaining a sense of normalcy in their classrooms. Who spent today, as I did, talking not about English but about murder.
We sit and listen to our students, but who listens to us? Who is there to tell us that what we are doing is worth it? That this isn’t normal? That we make a difference in so many lives?
Who is there for Atlas when the world gets too heavy for his shoulders?
Copyright: ©Kelly LaLonde, and urbanesl, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.