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Archive for Friday, November 20, 1992

TERRIFIED TEACHERS

November 20, 1992

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A teacher in the Columbus, Ohio, school system is far more courageous and compassionate than a lot of her U.S. counterparts, who understandably are getting out of the field rather than risk bodily harm.

Columbus high school teacher Molly Severns, who stands ``a petite 5-3,'' was forcefully shoved by a 5-9 female pupil who went to school angry over being picked up by police for carrying a handgun on a downtown street. Severns suffered a broken wrist, but bounced back with ``a deeper resolve'' to show students at Rosemont High School better ways to handle anger.

She plans to stay in teaching, wiser and more alert, and try to help youngsters steer different paths.

Severns is one of thousands of teachers who are physically assaulted regularly in or near U.S. schools as the growth of violence in our society increasingly surfaces in the schools. The Chicago public school system averaged 55 teacher assaults per month last school year. Union officials estimate about 10 New York City teachers were injured each public school day in 1991-92.

Big cities have no corner on this disgusting situation. Teachers in both large and small districts, including Lawrence and the Lawrence area, periodically are challenged by troublesome pupils. Most who stay at schools where they encountered injury tend to be demoralized. Meanwhile, a number of victimized U.S. teachers have left the field, in fear, disgust and quite pessimistic about the future. They are quick to stress they cannot create an educational climate when they must devote at least half their time to establishing, maintaining or restoring order in the classroom, the halls and the cafeterias.

Terrified and intimidated people cannot teach as they should, and must, if the nation's educational system is to show marked improvement. In all the talk about better schools, the dangers of declining discipline among students and weakening security for teachers would seem to be an equally important consideration.

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