June 4, 2008: It will not do -- school is responsible

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To The Editor:
Brian Sweeney’s editorial about the recent incident with second-graders at MCS contained some inaccurate statements. I do not wish to dwell on it or to interfere in anyone’s political domain, however such inaccuracies could lead to bad results and should be addressed.
Children rely on adults to keep them safe and to guide them in correct behavior. It is no mystery why these students planned to attack another student when you consider that this other student was attacking them. If a second-grader comes home with cuts and bruises because he was attacked by another student, he is not in a safe place. If this happens once or twice and then the matter is dealt with, that’s okay. But if it continues over a period of time, then the second- graders are naturally going to take matters into their own hands.
No external influences are necessary for this to happen, nor are the children at fault. This is simply what normally happens when adults fail in their duty. If no one had done anything, the children would probably have taken this as a sign that what they were doing was okay and actually tried to put their plan into action. It is great that the administration stepped in in time, but the problem probably resulted from the administration’s neglect.
Parents are not responsible for the safety of their children when they are in school; the school district is. To point fingers at the district and ask “Why were our children unsafe?” does not turn the district into a scapegoat, it simply places responsibility precisely where it actually lies. It is a measure of how far our public schools have degenerated that discussion of schools no longer revolves around education, but rather the physical safety of our children.
It simply will not do for the school to deny responsibility. Problems are not solved in this way.

Thomas Clark,
Margaretville