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The REAL Violence in Public Education is the Collateral Damage of Class Warfare

March 3, 2015

Steve Singer’s recent blog post, “The Worst Sort of Violence Against Children” cross posted from The Progressive in Common Dreams describes the collateral damage that occurs when schools are underfunded and, consequently, under-resourced. In the article Singer describes the real violence his students face… not in school… but every day at home and, as was the case in one of his students, overseas where she was exposed to the horrific mall shootings in Nigeria. While suburban parents are raising funds for arguably superfluous safety equipment to protect their children from armed intruders, our country is doing little to help students who encounter real dangers each and every day of their lives. Singer describes the effects of poverty on his students this way:

Students must have their physical needs met first—be fed, have a full night’s rest, etc. Then they have to feel safe, loved, and esteemed before they can reach their potentials.

But meeting these needs is a daily challenge. Our students come to us with a wealth of traumas and we’re given a poverty of resources to deal with them.

How many times have I given a child breakfast or bought a lunch? How many kids were given second-hand clothes or books? How many hours have I spent before or after school just listening to a tearful child pour out his heart?

He emphasizes that he was drawn to teaching because he wanted to help children experiencing distress. But he DOES object to the public’s blaming teachers for their inability to achieve “success” in the classroom:

But what I do mind is doing this alone. And then being blamed for not healing all the years of accumulated hurt.

Because that’s exactly what’s expected of teachers these days. Fix this insurmountable problem with few tools and if you can’t, it’s your fault.

I didn’t shoot up the mall. I didn’t pass the laws that make it so easy for kids to get a hold of a gun. I didn’t pass the laws that allow such rampant income inequality and the perpetuation of crippling poverty that more than half of our nation’s public school children live with every day. And I sure didn’t slash public school budgets while wealthy corporations got a tax holiday.

But when society’s evils are visited on our innocent children, I’m expected to handle it alone. And if I can’t solve it all by myself, I should be fired.

That is where I take umbrage.

The parents in Singer’s school are not worried about intruders coming into school… they are worried about getting a decent meal on the table and a roof over their kids heads. They… and especially their children… are the collateral damage of the class war. And when teachers are expected to do the impossible and lose their job when they fail to do so, they, too, become collateral damage.

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