Schools don’t need fixing

Published 10:21 pm Monday, January 29, 2018

By Joe Bass

There have been several news reports recently of violence in Suffolk schools. These include fights between students. One student had a handgun at school. Of course, guns and violence in schools are not new, at least, not during the last several decades.

It is important to recognize that reported negative conditions in schools do not reflect everything that goes on in them. Many good things go on. There are excellent programs offered by outstanding teachers and taken advantage of by students striving to get a good education. But the negatives should not be ignored. The causes of them should be identified and addressed.

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Being a really old guy, it is amazing to me how different schools are today compared to the schools I attended in the late ‘40s and ‘50s. What is even more amazing is an important question is never asked about this. What factors caused the changes?

It doesn’t seem to me that social conditions change because of random chance or because the stars are realigned in the nighttime sky. But there is no public, governmental or media discussion about what caused the changes during the last 50 years. Discussions only focuses on new negatives not previously seen, including fights, problems with weapons in schools, shootings and so on.

Improvement efforts only focus on trying to “fix” negative conditions such as having more police officers on campuses. I have a really good memory. There was never a police officer in any public school I attended as a child, teenager and young adult. There was no such job classification as a “school resource officer,” a police officer with a different name. There was no police department at my undergraduate university.

Shouldn’t there be academic research and public discussions to identify the factors that brought about the negative conditions? What changes were made in American society that resulted in the negative results? Shouldn’t research compare positive conditions in schools in the ‘50s with negative conditions today and identify social activities that brought about the negative results? Clearly, the changes made were great failures. Shouldn’t they be identified and addressed?

But our major problem is that there is no such effort, no public willingness to frankly discuss such things. Although there are excellent programs offered by outstanding teachers and taken advantage of by some students, the negatives clearly reduce these. And the real needs of the students acting out are not met.

Schools are not the problem. The problem lies with adults, unwilling to examine the real issues and address them. It was not students that promoted the harmful social efforts that resulted in the negatives that hinder their youthful strivings. It is not the students that shirk adult responsibilities to face the realities of yesteryear in comparison with today’s.

School programs, teachers, and students do not need to be “fixed.” Adults in our society must become brave enough to face realities and make frank assessments of the causes of our social challenges and develop successful approaches to overcoming them.

Joseph L. Bass is the executive director of ABetterSociety.Info Inc., a nonprofit organization in Hobson. Email him at ABetterSociety1@aol.com.