Learning from tragedy

My heart hurts for the community of Chardon, in northeast
Ohio. I know people who live there, and they are in deep shock and pain over
Monday’s shooting at Chardon High School. I send my deepest condolences to
everyone impacted by these events. As both a professional observer of Buckeye
State public education and as a mom, two things stand out from Monday’s
tragedy. First, there has been a tremendous
focus
here in Ohio
on anti-bullying
efforts. Many people initially assumed that bullying was the cause of Monday’s
shooting—an assumption that has been largely dispelled. The suspect told law
enforcement officials that he chose the victims randomly, and the prosecutor in
the case believes his story. We absolutely need to address bullying in (and out
of) school. But children, like all of us, can be deeply troubled and in need of
help, even when they are treated kindly by others. Second, it appears as if the
school, its staff, and its students did everything right when it came to
responding to the situation. It is a Fordham mantra that no school can be
everything to every student, but we all agree that all schools have a
major responsibility to keep students safe and sound when they are in their
charge. Emergency response drills and preparedness plans are important. Yes,
they take away from “time on task” and force us to confront some of our worst
fears, but they simply cannot and should not be overlooked. The leadership and
staff of the Chardon school district deserve to be commended for understanding
this, and likely preventing far greater tragedy. In this time of mourning, it
is worth noting, once again, the vital importance of caring, professional
educators.

“Ohio
school shooting: Drills, cell phone use paid off,”
Cleveland Plain Dealer, Wednesday, February 29, 2012

“Suspected
Chart shooter’s appearance in Geauga County Juvenile Court offers little
insight on his mindset,”
Cleveland
Plain Dealer,
Wednesday, February 29, 2012

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