Monday, October 20, 2014

Gun on the Stair Update: A 'Gentle Reminder' about Leaving Hunting Gear at Home

This is a follow up to my "About That Bullet on the Stair" post.  A week after Nonnewaug High School Principal Andrew O'Brien assured us that it was no big deal that he found a bullet on the stair at my daughter's school, another school district functionary sent out this note:

Region 14 Families,
The first day of hunting season is tomorrow, Saturday, October 18.  With the number of staff and students who are hunters, we want to send a gentle reminder to check your pockets, backpacks and cars and remove any hunting related items that are not in keeping with school safety and/or district policies prior to returning to school.

Thank you.

The sender of this message was one Eric Bergeron, the assistant principal of my daughter's middle school, aka, Woodbury Middle School.  During her seventh-grade year, Adella earned herself lunchtime detention during which she was required to write an apology to her math teacher for.  Well.  I still don't get it.  

It went like this:  Apparently, Adella played with her necklace or her scarf in a way that convinced the math teacher that Adella was mocking her.  

How touching your scarf and smiling equates with mocking a teacher, I do not know, and I didn't know at the time.  Which is why I went in to meet this teacher and to find out what the big deal was.  I'm still not clear.  But detention she got, and a letter she wrote.  The same administrator--the guy who sent the gentle reminder to gun-toting teachers and youth--let me and my husband know that we might not know Adella as well as we thought we did.  The smart ones can be tricky, you know.

So, yeah.  I fell over with laughter that the same daddy-o who sent out the gentle reminder to our gun toting kids and teachers to OBEY THE LAW and leave their bullets and guns at home just a few short years ago pulled out all the stops when it came to catering to the whims of a paranoid teacher.  

Which is why so many people have so little respect for public educators.  

Just a few short days after Adella earned lunchtime detention in the seventh grade, her friends a few desks over caught the same punishment for having a laugh before class.  "If you're having a private joke, it must have something to do with me or with this class," the teacher said.  

This is what we do in public education:  we hammer the good kids into the ground over nothing, but we send gentle reminders to the gun-toters to please remember to leave their guns at home.  Because to offend them is just too scary.  They are not the nerds we can so easily intimidate.

Our World Tuesday: Fall Color, Fall Fun

Not a pumpkin harvester, this fellow, he enjoyed the straw while autumn revelers got in line for some corn maze and pumpkin-picking fun.  When you're cute, you can stand around and eat all da!
Our autumn revelers figured out that the best way to get through the maze was to follow the smart people.  Which we did.
These gourds left one fellow in a college sweatshirt visibly and audibly bemused.  "What do you do with it once you buy it?" he asked everyone.  A guy.  Possibly an engineer.  Without children.  These are my guesses, anyway.  He was funny.

Our World Tuesday

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Today's Flowers: Fading Fern

Today's Flowers

White Heron

This morning I came upon a white heron who would have been happy to not have been come upon.  Off the beautiful bird went to the other side of the pond.  A beautiful bird, a beautiful moment.  I was lucky.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

About that Bullet on the Stair

            Sometime today, a security officer at my daughter’s school found a bullet on the stairs to the cafeteria.
            A bullet on the stairs to the cafeteria.
            So the principal sent an email to teachers and made an announcement that they should check their email and business continued as usual.  Students had early dismissal, and they went home at the appointed hour.
            And the principal sent an email letting parents know a bullet was found on the stairs to the cafeteria but everything was fine.  Business as usual.  This is America.
            Later that night, while I waited for my daughter’s concert to begin, my father emailed me to find out what happened at school.  I work in an urban school, so my first move was to google my school to find out what happened.  Nothing.  Of course—and I knew that .  Urban kids don’t get up to the completely fucked up psychological bullshit that rich suburban kids with shrinks can get up to.  Down in the city, we’re about hot meals and the peace of a classroom.  But the suburbs are different.
   I googled Nonnewaug and found out a security officer found a bullet on a stair leading to the cafeteria.  The principal sent an email to parents saying it was all good. 

            I read the email while I was waiting for my daughter’s concert to begin, and I thought, “Fuck you, buddy.  It’s not OK that someone found a bullet on a stair in my daughter’s school.”
            Because the little hunters who attend this agricultural high school should be told to leave their deer-killing ammo home when they show up to learn about history and science and literature.  Not 
one of these disciplines requires a bullet to be understood.

            So how safe is my daughter at this school?

            I’m scared out of my mind.  Last year, when the crazy French teacher who showed every sign of being a pedophile harassed my daughter, I took on the school to get rid of this woman.  She’s gone.  But what a fight to get the principal to get the point.

            How to get the principal to understand that if there is a bullet on the stair to the cafeteria, there is a gun-shooting individual on campus who does not have the sense to leave his deadly toys at home and—a big and, so this is a dramatic pause—is therefore a threat to every student on campus?

            Andy’s not that bright.  He requires multiple episodes of re-teaching.  He’s the kind of guy who takes personal calls from his needy wife while he’s having a meeting with the angry parent of an honors student.  The guy has no idea what is important or even when he should turn his phone off.

            Little boys and or girls are dropping their ammo on the stairs of a public high school in a well-heeled community in a blue state.

            Mr. O’Brien, I promise you this:  If you don’t keep my daughter safe in your school—Nonnewaug High School—the bullet that got past you today will be the least of your problems.