About That Letter to the Editor Concerning “Failing Schools”


The shortsighted missive from the “Correspondent of the week” in the editorial section of this past Sunday’s Winston-Salem Journal was not only condescending and off target, but also a reminder that many who pass judgement on the public school system have really no grasp of what happens in schools and the challenges that teachers and administrators face on a daily basis.

If you did not read it, here is the text.

“Reading about the group of teenagers who beat Bill Bloxham (“New details in assault on homeless man,” Feb. 15), makes me both sad and mad, but mostly sad. I can’t help but feel like our schools are failing.

I don’t know what the home situation is like for these young men, or what led them to such despicable acts, but it’s obvious that the schools weren’t helping them. Maybe if the schools were different, maybe if they were taught to respect themselves and respect God, this would never have happened. Maybe if these young men had been given a choice, they would have taken a different path.

Maybe Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has some solutions. Shouldn’t we give her a chance? What’s going on now isn’t working” (http://www.journalnow.com/opinion/letters_to_the_editor/the-readers-forum-sunday-letters/article_67e55c21-f74f-55cb-830b-7e98cf49010e.html).

It is absolutely tragic what happened to this man who was beaten while sleeping under a bridge near Hanes Park. The three juveniles who did this crime should be punished, and while I am not familiar with the extent of what the law can do, I am sure that it will never give a sense of justice to many who know Mr. Bloxham.

But to blame the schools for what happened? That’s utter nonsense. It’s ignorance. It’s sanctimonious. And it’s wrong.

No sooner does the correspondent express his emotions does he talk about schools failing. Without even really investigating the situation surrounding the relationship between these boys and their school he places the blame on a flagship school in our public system. Never does he mention that the crime was neither done on school grounds or done during school hours.

If schools were solely responsible for the actions of young people and the way they treat others in society, then what this uninformed correspondent is saying is that schools are responsible for most of what happens in the country.

That young adult who sold drugs to others? It must be the schools’ fault.

That person who beat his/her child? It must be the schools’ fault.

That person who later in life embezzled money from a non-profit. Yep, it’s the fault of the schools.

Or at least that is the logic of this correspondent. But that knife cuts both ways.

That person who helped a non-profit feed countless homeless people? Maybe that’s the schools’ fault.

That person who found a cure for a malady that killed many? Maybe that’s the schools’ fault too.

That person who donated money to charitable organizations? Darnit! Schools’ fault again.

That person who does a hard day’s work, pays his taxes, productively supports the community, and volunteers in schools? That is also the schools’ fault.

That person who becomes a loving parent who models the behavior that would make the correspondent praise him? Schools did that.

Yet, I do not think that the correspondent would give credit to schools for all of those positive actions. He might say it was learned from home or church or just God-given.

As a public school teacher, I wish it was that easy; however, when listening to the ludicrous and illogical accusations of a man who simply points and blames schools for society’s woes only proves that it is not that easy at all.

Schools and the communities are more like mirrors of each other. But if the correspondent could ensure that all students came into schools physically, mentally, and emotionally prepared then maybe this conversation does not occur.

It is asinine to claim that what all students do outside of school grounds and out of classrooms is a total reflection of the schools and the teachers. Too much is out of the hands of the education system. Over one in five children in North Carolina lives in poverty and many more have other pressing needs that affect the ability to learn. Some students come to school just to be safe and have a meal.

If the correspondent had any idea as to what the legislature has done to limit schools concerning resources, personnel, and power to help students beyond passing arbitrary tests, then he might actually see that the responsibility of what these juveniles did to this homeless man is a symptom of a much bigger problem that all of society must confront.

If schools were supposed to teach all people to have the kind of respect that the correspondent claims they should, then he might need to go back and take classes because to say that schools shape society alone is senseless and unwise.

If others were to look at the correspondent’s logic and ability to articulate a reasonable argument, then they may actually question how he even got out of school with a diploma.

But that quip about how Betsy DeVos could stop crime before it happens might be true – if the culprits are grizzly bears.