The following event occurred while I was incomunicado on Amtrak’s California Zephyr between California and Missouri, but my e-subscription to Education Week has brought me up to date.Â That site requires subscription, but the story was covered elsewhere:
- CNN.com, 8 November 2005, One dead in Tennessee school shooting
JACKSBORO, Tennessee (CNN) — A high school student opened fire Tuesday afternoon on a principal and two assistant principals, killing one of the men before a teacher wrestled his weapon away, the sheriff said.
TheÂ Education Week articleÂ (subscription required),Â Tenn. Killing Underscores Job Dangers for Leaders, stated:
- The federal government does track incidents of violence involving teachers and students. According to â€œIndicators of School Crime and Safety: 2004,â€ a report by the National Center for Education Statistics, 9 percent of public and private school teachers reported that they had received threats of injury from a student, and 4 percent said they were victims of assault by a student, during the 1999-2000 school year.
It’s no surprise to anyone who reads newspapers or watches television news that schools are no longer the sameÂ safe places they once appeared to be.Â Where bullying was once the greatest fear of some schoolchildren, now being the victim of a murder may be the contemporary equivalent.
What madeÂ catching up on the latest school shootingÂ an object of interest for me, was the coverage given to this incident by the CNN program, Nancy Grace, on the same date as the shooting.Â
- Nancy Grace, 8 November 2005
Good evening, everybody. I`m Nancy Grace. I want to thank you for being with us tonight. First, breaking news out of Tennessee, a deadly shooting as gunfire erupts at a high school in the middle of classes. Police say a student opened fire on a principal and two vice principals, killing one, critically wounding another. The school in lockdown, the 15- year-old student in custody tonight.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. BILL BREDESDEN (R), TENNESSEE: Schools have got to be safe places. And somehow or another, we failed to make that happen in this school. And we need to go back and revisit just anything (INAUDIBLE) see if there`s anything we could have done to weather this tragedy. But the first order of business is prayers for those who were shot and taking care of the children in that school.
Compare that report with the one on another Nancy Grace ‘episode’ in which sheÂ interviewed a psychologistÂ on theÂ recent tragedy in Pennsylvania involving two homeschooled teens.Â Â
- "Well, this might be a Romeo and Juliet horror story where everything went wrong. Look, these two kids were both home schooled."
When a public school teen comes to school and shoots administrators, the same show presents a video clip of the state governor asking for prayers. There is no mention that the kind of schooling received by the teen is related to the shooting.Â When homeschooling is a factor, a psychologist is interviewed.
Why is it that one sort of schooling is relevant to a shooting, but the other is not? In general, either style-of-schooling is a significant factor in both cases, or it is a factor in neither.
I recognize that following years of good-news-about-homeschooling that any sort of tragedy, probably other than accidents (although the Jessica Dubroff tragedy was examined by the news media), is a kind of man-bites-dog story. Homeschool reports have represented all homeschoolers as if they lived atÂ Lake Woebegone.
To keep the Lake Woebegone style of PR from having a backlash when a tragedy occurs, it might be advisable to tone down the hoo-rah homeschool stories. But how do we do that when non-homeschoolers-who-are-concerned-about-homeschoolers want proof that homeschooling ‘works?’ How can we be allowed to be as normal as we know we are without invoking the Lake Woebegone effect?
And with that thought in mind, consider the request byÂ Â the Northwest Indiana Times:
- NWITimes.com, 22 November 2005, Test kids at home to measure their progress
Requiring all students, even ones schooled at home, to take a standardized test each year would be a good way to measure progress toward that goal.
Your opinion, please
I’ll take some time to consider my response.