Wednesday December 11, 2013
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Ok, don't flip out Tom , John, Tim, or others. But with all the media hyperbole flying around now about who should be checked for having any past or current mental health issues regarding firearm purchase, use, what about Public Education Teachers? I mean, they control and oversee our beloved children the majority of each school day throughout the country. Should there not be a yearly mandatory psych review and process, via a public information request, that produces a list of any public school employee that have had a mental treatment issue, or is currently undergoing psychological therapy, or is taking prescribed medications for a mentaly diagnosed condition? I'm not trying to be a smart alec. But, your mental issues thread got me to thinking about this. Should this not be a parents/leagal guardians right if protection of the children is our goal. If not, why not? Do you see where this can all lead. Students are not just subject to a random act of outside the school physical violence. We all see the news stories about the occasional bad egg teacher for sex abuse and etc. Could these possibly be prevented by the above.
Hi Don: Your concept has some if not a lot of validity. I would have to do some research on the topic of mental illness in teachers and what the Ed. Code might say about it. Personally, I have not ever had a case of a teacher having psychological issues that impaired teaching to the popint of removal from the classroom. Perhaps Tim has some information about Az. Ed. Codes relevant to the topic. A hunch : a teacher that could be identified as having a severe psychological disorder would act out to the degree that he/she would be singled out for teaching inadeqacies and dealt with for that problem. Seriously, children are adept at spoting weakness', exploiting them and making no secret about doing so.
I should have stated earlier that this topic leads me to ask for reevaluation of the removal of Counselors from the Middle School. In a school of 1200 students, I had 3 full time Counselors. Without exageration they spent over half of their time dealing with the personal issues of students. Much of the work was to sort conflicts before they became really disruptive and to give students coping strategies. The remaining time was dedicated to scheduling classes, person-to-person academic planning, parent meetings, giving lessons about learning strategies, etc.
To be honest, I have seen a few teachers I would have liked to have seen doing something else, but I'm not sure that a mental health evaluation would have picked them up.
I tell you what. I'd like to see some research done though. It would be interesting to see what the stats are. If we are talking about danger to kids, which I assume is the subject, it would be interesting to see the numbers, the type of danger, and so on. Before we act we need data. We don't seem to have much now.
I'll tell you a little story along that line. One you may enjoy because it's genuinely funny. Carson Junior High had what I saw as a minor problem. Potential violence was spilling over into the school from two sets of Hispanics, one set being those of American parents, and apparently the other set being mostly kids of illegals. (I came out liking the kids of illegals better, by the way, though that has nothing to do with anything.) The result was some showing of knives, a few scraps, and a full blown gang fight on the footbal field after school one day.
I presume that it all had something to do with drug turf, but the district--with the usual educational hugger-muggery--never really said much. After our little "riot," the district did the usual--it brought in a "consultant."
I was very happy at Carson, teaching my computer classes, something the kids loved. I had a regular little empire, but I really wanted to get into the main office where I could end my career by spending a couple of years helping teachers instead of kids. Trouble was, I was so much a part of the in-group at Carson that when I applied for a transfer I could see heels digging in, and I knew I'd never get out of there.
So when the consutant inverviwed me--as he did everyone--I decided to push a few buttons. It was hilarious! He asked me, "What do you thing teachers can do to hekp in this crisis." I almost laughed out loud, but I put oon my straightest face and said what I knew he did NOT want to hear. "Teachers did not create this problem, and teachers cannot solve it. We should be allowed to teach our classes. We are educators, not policemen."
I swear. I think I made the man's day. :-)
My actual opinion was that we should fence off the campus a little better because I had seen drug deals going down right on campus, and it would only have taken about 100 feet of fencing to complete the job.
Anyway, here came the day of the BIG meeting, the day the "misfits" were to be weeded out. The principal (who knew he was headed elsewhere) handed out transfer slips. About the tenth or so was mine. You should have seen the gasp go up from that crowd After the meeting the people who were to stay gathered around me and said they would walk off the campus if I left, but I just put on my saddest face and said we should just bow to the wisdom of the expert who had been hired for megabucks.
Okay, so much for tha part. Now I'll tell the really funny part.
I was given a few Mesa schools to interview with, and one of them was a school whose name I won't mention except to say that out of 72 schools I would rate it as--say--number 72? I went to that interview first and acted as though I had never in all my life wanted to work somewhere as much as i wanted to work there. When I was offered three different schedules of classes I took the absolute worst one.
Now I will readily admit that I thought I was one smart cookie, but I didn't know something.
The next year, my last year in the classroom (got the job in the main office the next year, as per my plot), I taught science to some of the worst kids I've ever seen, in an all-female science department, which was unusual. And it seemed that every time I turned around either my principal or my department head (I'd been department head at Carson) came in, commiserated with me and talked for an inordinate length of time about nothing in particular. Frankly, the badly behaved kids did not concern me; I just handled them, taught them, went home at the end of the day, and that was that. The school was a zoo, but my classes weren't.
On the very last day of that year, the VERY last day, my department head came to see me and said, "Tom, you are the bravest teacher I have ever seen. I'm sorry to see you go."
Puzzled, I gently asked why. "Well, she told me. You know what kind of reputation male science teachers have on this campus. And to have spent a year in that SAME classroom, with the same kind of kids, without so much as a murmur, and to have proven yourself so fully and completely...."
That was when it dawned on me. It seems that my predecessor had been arrested in a motel with one of his 9th grade female students and was now enjoying state prison. I presume that when I had seemed so willing to teach at that school in the exact same classroom some flags must have gone up. I'd heard about it all, but had never noticed which school it was.
No wonder they were watching me so closely!
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