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Member since: 2003 before July 6th
Number of posts: 46,179

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Well, that opens a great can of worms.

Our constitution, and our courts' interpretation of, for good reason, has historically leaned liberally toward protecting rights even when that means that some people who are guilty of various things get away with it. This is a good thing for a host of reasons, and might make an interesting thread all by itself for someone who has the time to sit with it.

No rights are more sacred, really, than parental rights. There has to be an abundance of evidence, and legal hoops jumped through, to interfere with parental rights. It's a bi-partisan thing. It also highlights the dark side of "choice" that Democrats don't like to air: women who have proved over and over again that they are unfit to be parents, who have had children taken away from them repeatedly, still have the right to produce more, and keep every succeeding child until that child has been damaged enough to meet the burden of proof...again.

What does this have to do with school shootings? How about this: schools, and society, can't force parents to get their kids mental health services when needed, or for that matter, to get family counseling themselves.

A concrete, current example happening IN MY CLASSROOM this year:

A middle school student with a long history of mental health issues and referrals to DHS has been spending his time, instead of working on any academic task in any of his classrooms, drawing page after page of graphic illustrations of him with a gun. Shooting. Others and himself. When approached by others who try to talk to him, he mimes shooting.

We've been having regular meetings since the very first day of school. Every official agency has been contacted. His parent has been contacted. His parent's response? The school is going too far, trying to interfere with his 2nd amendment rights, and taking the boy's "foolishness" too seriously. The parent COULD lock up all the guns so the kid can't get to them, but then, how is he supposed to protect the kid? That's what the guns are for, and he's not going to remove access to the numerous guns in the home. This man is more concerned with perceived threats to his guns than he is with his son's mental state.

In our numerous meetings and contacts, we have set up free counseling for this student with a local therapist. Dad refuses. His first excuse? He doesn't have the money or time to drive the kid to town to see a therapist. When we offered to provide the transportation, he says their family schedule is too busy to make time.

The meetings continue. It's not like we're not doing anything. But at this point, there is no way to force the parent to address the issue. If or when this boy explodes, it will somehow be "the school's fault;" he'll have been bullied, or have been an outcast, or...

He hasn't been bullied. He is somewhat of an outcast among his peers, because they are afraid of him. Partly because he is violent himself, and likes to throw punches and kicks, and partly because they have seen his "artwork."

Of course, we could also point to our for-profit health care system which limits access to care, including mental health care, for many...but until we can ensure that our children are raised in safe, socially/emotionally healthy environments and are allowed to get care when they need it, it won't really matter. After all, we have a community standing by to offer MY student whatever support he needs, and we're not allowed to deliver that support.

And there are many other things we could do before taking that drastic step of intruding on parental rights. We could make every school a small, safe community with plenty of staffing to ensure that kids can't fall through cracks. We could put health services, including mental health services, ON campuses and ensure that all students, and their families when necessary, have full access to whatever care is needed. We could focus our education system on growing the whole child, instead of making schools too-large, too-anonymous, too-over-crowded crucibles of high-stakes testing stress.

As a matter of fact, we could see the bigger picture and do that for our society, focusing our time, talents, energy, and resources on closing class gaps, on making sure that there are abundant, many-layered safety nets and supports for all people. Of course, that would interfere with the neoliberal agenda, and we can't have that.

How misleading.

1. Schools can't "eliminate" Halloween.

2. Schools are not obligated to celebrate holidays; that's not their function.

3. Public schools are there to serve the needs of all students, whether they are allowed to celebrate various commercial or religious holidays or not, and make no mistake,

4. Halloween is a commercial holiday.

5. This article is about inclusiveness, which IS an obligation of public education.

6. "Harvest festivals" are not commercial holidays, are not, and don't have to be, linked to Halloween, and are often celebrated at schools as an inclusive seasonal festival that can integrate all subjects learned.

7. One of the things that SHOULD be taught in health class is how deadly sugar is. THAT's a Halloween related lesson that would certainly fit a "current event."

8. As a teacher who has, in years gone by, had to spend all day in a classroom with 30+ over-sugared, costumed, over-stimulated children trying to focus on the actual learning that was SUPPOSED to be happening until the afternoon "celebration," I was thrilled when I moved to a state/district/school that had the PTA hold an after-school through evening festival, removing Halloween from my professional day, and leaving it up to parents whether or not their child would attend without missing actual school days.

9. As a teacher who, before the move, planned an actual seasonal festival for my class INSTEAD of the Halloween party etc. when I had students who couldn't participate, I remember being inundated by other teachers who dumped their kids who couldn't "do" Halloween on me, overwhelming my space and resources.

10. I also remember how much fun my students had with their harvest festival throughout the day; all while still learning, without excluding any students who had the right to a public education on that day.
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