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SCHOOLS: No shortage of ‘troubled’ children

Letter by Carol R. Davis, Fircrest on Feb. 23, 2012 at 9:36 am with 26 Comments »
February 23, 2012 10:01 am

I write this with a heavy heart. The shooting incident at the Bremerton elementary school in itself may be “a rare, isolated incident,” (TNT, 2-23), but the number of seriously troubled, damaged children in our schools is not.

This incident is a red flag for what is really plaguing our schools and society at large. The classroom teacher in this incident is quoted saying this boy is a “troubled child” who altered the dynamics of an otherwise peaceful classroom.

Classrooms all over our country are plagued with difficult children who make learning and teaching a struggle for everyone else. Only a teacher knows of the balancing act that must be performed daily to maintain discipline and achievement in the classroom.

Finding real help for these children becomes more difficult as funding and resources are cut. Preventing the damage must be the ultimate solution, but there are so many possible causes. Is it child abuse, fetal drug or alcohol damage, mental illness?

All over our country, families are in turmoil that desperately need help. But where will it come from?

Leave a comment Comments → 26
  1. TSkidmore says:

    How true! The teachers have to “teach” every kid in their class no matter how screwed up they are…and the nitwit politicians and editorial board at the TNT who don’t know one damn thing about education are telling them what to do. The system is failing due to the idiots we have in public office and writing so-called newspapers.

  2. cclngthr says:


    What do you suggest schools do, Place ALL children who are considered troubled in separate classrooms where the label troubled means they are automatically considered unteachables? How about placing all students with ANY disability in a retard class just for disabled students? How about spanking all children who cause trouble and permanently banning them from every school in the nation?

    Unfortunately we cannot do either of these things because federal law prohibits that. State law also prohibits spanking of any student in WA state.

    A troubled child can be anyone in any classroom. Bullied kids are “troubled.” So are those who have simple problems that often come up in classrooms.

  3. SandHills says:

    Schools have taken on more and more in terms of “special needs” that it has detracted from the basic function of education.

    Those facing levy or bond issues need to ask some very hard questions about where the money is being spent.

    Schools now are expected to be reformatory holding pens (that release their inmates every afternoon), soup lines for kids whose parents spend their foodstamps on drugs and alcohol, and treatment centers for every affliction under the sun that require special buses, special ed teachers – and for goodness sake don’t send Johnny to school with a peanut butter sandwich because your income isn’t low enough for the free lunch program – those peanuts may send some kid into a seizure.

    And of course the bottomline are parents – who were probably raised in the very same coddling system of education and expect the schools to raise their kids for them.

    Schools should concentrate on educating those who want to be educated – put the others out on the roads to pick up trash in orange jump-suits as a way to see where their life is headed without education and an anti-social attitude.

    But elementary kids bringing a gun to school to shoot another student? Well those who have such a positive outlook on the future of the human race will have to ponder that question. They will probably be like tuddo or beerboy on this forum and argue that it has always been that way – or worse in the past, and all we need is more money to throw at the problem – a problem that is always societies at- large, heaven forbid any individual ever takes responsibility.

  4. cclngthr says:


    So we have to ignore 80% of the kids we have to teach?

    Are you really suggesting we eliminate special education as it exists and place those kids with legitimate disabilities in “special schools” where they are thought of as incapable of being taught? How about we eliminate all welfare and sterilize all people who are not white, don’t have a college education, own their home, have full time jobs earning over 50K a year, and are able to take care, financially, physically, morally, and other means of caring for children?

    If you are suggesting this, how do you think this is possible where we have federal laws guaranteeing a education of all students?

  5. Theefrinker says:

    One source of problems that I’ve noticed my whole life is a person’s need to “fit in” and belong. Unfortunately, the need to belong is a biological, subconscious survival trait so there’s not usually a lot we can do about that. The issue is that people (especially kids) place this need at the highest priority in their life. When they see everyone around them fitting in with each other and realize that sense of exclusion, it causes them to feel depressed, confused, and more self-doubting. Instead of realizing that there’s nothing wrong with being unique (because it’s such a rarity), it often develops into contempt toward their peers. The peaceful among the outcasts grow up to be philosophers, the weak ones acquire an anti-depressant addiction, and the drama queens take guns to school.

  6. itwasntmethistime says:

    What is it, exactly, you think we can do for “troubled” kids? Just about all of them are troubled because of something going on at home and we certainly aren’t allowed to interfere with what goes on in someone’s private home.

    We’re not allowed to tell people they can’t feed their kids unhealthy foods or let them rot in front of the TV all day and night. We can’t drug test parents on welfare and even if we do know the parents are on drugs we let the kids stay in the home. We can’t suggest to a teen mom with two other kids already that her baby would have a better shot at life if she would place him for adoption. We aren’t allowed to do anything to prevent a woman from shacking up with a jerk who everybody but her knows is going to beat her.

    The funding issue is not that we don’t have enough resources to clean up these messes. The funding issue is that we freely dole out money that people use to create homes in which “troubled” kids reside.

  7. cclngthr says:

    Education is for all students; even troubled students. We as a society cannot legally decide who gets an education.

    Back in the 40’s and 50’s we used to do this:
    1. Refused education to those with a disability.
    2. Refused an education to those of certain ethnic backgrounds in schools that were not dedicated toward their background.
    3. Expected parents to teach their own kids who were hyperactive and sent those kids to outside counselling and mental health treatment to cure that issue.

  8. SandHills says:

    Ccingthr – typical over the top response. Obviously, all that has been done so far – and all the money spent, has not exactly put us on top of the worlds educational level of competence.

    Given a still suffering economy, how much more can be done? The reason China, India, as well as Japanese and Koreans, excel in education is that they realize the basic fact that not every single kid coming down the pike is going to be the next Bill Gates or Einstein. Very hard entrance exams are given to get into college – and those who earlier on recognize college isn’t for them are the lucky ones and have productive lives, maybe on a Kia assembly line, or an Apple warehouse/factory/dorm in China – but certainly not producing more children to be raised from cradle to grave out of the public coffers. Growing up I took the view most people had of Ebenezer Scrooge about “excess population” – but I am now convinced this is what manifests itself in many issues facing the human race, be it global warming, or education.

    But the main aspect is excusing the basic aspect of parental responsibility from the equation of education of our young. That somehow our education system must cater to each and every special need under the sun. We are finding out under tax revenue constraints that we may have hit a brock wall, where expectations of those like you are meeting the reality that (1) our education system has not served us well and getting left behind on the world stage, and (2) we no longer have an inexaustible money tree from tax revenues to feed the beast that has not served us well regardless of how much money we throw at it.

    Kinda like a swamped boat – and some in the boat never did any rowing even before we got swamped and not doing any bailing now. Some would say we should all sink before we make any distinction about “lightening the load” of dead weight and that those of us who were doing all the rowing ( and now bailing water) must double our efforts to keep an obviously sinking boat from sinking due to this dead weight. Some others would say we might have to look at lightening the load… As horrific as that idea might be to your sensitivity.

  9. cclngthr says:

    One thing I mentioned to you yesterday in the boundary invasion letter that teachers cannot deal with issues other than what is involved in the curriculum.

    Being troubled can occur with issues at school, namely bullying. Bullying now does not stop at the school door. It makes the transition from school to home.

    We used to tell young teen mothers that their child is better off adopted, and encouraged them to give up the child by placing them in homes like the Faith Home and similar institutions where caseworkers managed the pregnancy and adoption process.

    Back then we also did not have unwed pregnancies much because society not only frowned upon the practice but also ran unwed parents out of town.

  10. cclngthr says:

    We legally cannot exclude those kids with special needs; i.e. those with disabilities. Are you recommending we not serve them? What type of situation would you place these kids?

    Your response is typical of those who are in an income that is high enough to support children and think others whop do not fall in the category within your definition should have access to kids. You probably think those other people are not people at all. This is a typical antisemitism theory where those who are the fittest get services and those who are deemed unfit should be left to be eliminated as soon as possible.

  11. BlaineCGarver says:

    cclngthr, I think you are playing a class warfare game. Children also have a right to achieve their potential, and that can’t happen with the teacher spending a predominate amount of time tending to disruption. Laws are made to be changed. Give the good kids a chance without fear and boredom. Sheesh…

  12. cclngthr says:

    All children have a legal right to an education in a mainstream society. It has been proven that we cannot have a separate type of education for each and every type of condition theyu may be going through.

    This kid may NOT have a disability. Kids who are normal can have meltdowns because the innate need of belonging is absent. The same type of kid also can be bullied and this does not stop from home to school and vise versa.

    If I were treated in a classroom in your proposal, I would not be educated because I have cerebral palsy, a cripple in your mind that must be constantly dependent upon all things.

  13. MarksonofDarwin says:

    Taking all disabled children into public schools sounds great, but in practice can be a nightmare.

    I know a special ed. teacher who has 4 kids in her “class” that are on feeding tubes. She spends the majority of her time feeding them and changing diapers. These kids are NOT being educated…they are being nursed.

    At some point, we really do need to find a happy medium between those with disabilities who are there to be educated, and those who are there simply to give parents respite from their burdens.

    I know many of you (one of you?) don’t want to hear that, or even rationally discuss it, but it’s the truth….

  14. spotted1 says:

    CCl, we can’t exclude those kids from education, it is a law that we are required to follow.

    But we don’t have to educate every kid in the same way. You fail to address the issue that most students that have IEP’s will never go to college. They need job skills that they can earn a living at, not a pipe dream of college degrees. Yes, some will overcome their disability, but the reality is, those with disabilities will most likely not attend college. Maybe we should accept that fact and educate them to a level they will achieve. Not necessarily college.

  15. cclngthr says:

    Those 4 kids do have IEP plans that likely are focusing on socializing them into society where the kids learn to interact with their surroundings. They ARE being educated; not in sense of math, reading, writing and other academics, but how to interact with others and interacting with their surroundings.

    I once taught at an elementary school where 3 kids of this type of severe disability were within a regular education classroom. They were included within that environment as much as possible to teach them how to interact with others and their society. Comparing these 3 kids to others I have worked with of the same type of disability, these 3 kids (3rd grade age) were more aware of their surroundings, were calmer and were able to interact more appropriately than those children with the same type of disability being housed in a separate classroom.

    I also have taught in a kindergarten classroom where a parent of a child with Downs Syndrome was placed full time with an assistant in that classroom under the direction of their attorney, who dictated the teachers follow the law of IDEA, ADA and other federal court case rulings on special education. The plan of this child was (at the time) not completely focusing on academics, but in socializing skills so he is able to interact properly with others.

  16. cclngthr says:

    I am well aware of SPED laws. However, I doubt you are aware that many programs that are available with children with disabilities are non-existant when they become adults.

    When I was in school, since I have CP, I had PT and OT for most of my educational career. I also was told I never could attend college due to my physical disability. As an adult, PT is non-existant as well as most healthcare issues due to insurance not covering it. Medical needs is very limited in my case. Fortunately, I have been able to afford such care because I’m able to work under my own insistance.

    For severely disabled adults, there is a very limited array of services available, and parents have to provide them rather than the state. Medicaid availability for adults with disabilities exists for those with very little income, or considered wards of the state, but most disabled adults have to fend for themselves and work like everyone else.

  17. taxedenoughintacoma says:

    When we force our kids to swim in a sass poll of moral decay they will pick up a social disease or the occasional bullet.

    Wanta bet this kid came from a single parent home, a drug or booze filled home, a home full of moral degenerates. And you yell like heck when parents want out of the government school systems and have a choice on where to send their kids.

    Socialist run schools are destroying America.

  18. Fibonacci says:

    Maybe this poor kid was raised in a home of a right wing bigoted anti-school, anti-teacher, anti-government,intolerant, hate filled, self-centered, well, you get the picture. A kid raised like that would have the same problems as the one you describe.

  19. Another slant. In the late seventies or early eighties corporal punishment went out of the public school system. In those days, children respected authority, mostly because there was a clear consequence for not following the rules. Subsequently, there was more order in the classroom and teachers found themselves more in control.
    Fast-forward to present day and it the contrast is striking. Children are raised to understand they have the right to misbehave and there is little to no consequence for it. They speak profanely to teachers and staff. They focus their attention in the classrooms to their social schedules and their fashion statements.They are keenly aware they can’t be kicked out, citing “no child left behind”. Subsequently, the teachers are powerless to control flow in their classrooms.
    To advocate spanking children as a teaching aid is laughable, but it illustrates the point. When children feared consequence, more time was spent teaching and less behavioral problems.

  20. itwasntmethistime says:

    S2E — I don’t know if it was spanking so much as parents used to support their kids’ teachers that made the classroom a more focused arena. What happened that turned the tides so that a parent who used to punish a child who sassed a teacher now takes the kid’s side and complains to the district when a teacher reprimands their kid?

    cc — School is for academics,

  21. True! It all begins at home.

  22. commoncents says:

    Wonder now that the facts are out if the opinions of some of the posters above has changed. While the child was certainly troubled and from a difficult home environment there was no intent to injure anyone. This was an accident that just happened to be at school.

    However, obviously there are issues with the boy and his home life that need to be addressed since his intent was to run away (how many of us threatened that as kids) and the gun was merely for protection when he did do that.

  23. cclngthr says:

    If school is for academics only, you automatically eliminate a lot of special education services. That leaves them without the legal right to appropriate and related services. Therefore, your proposal would only serve those who can learn academics and force those kids who cannot learn into institutions where they are further segregated from society. Would you suggest that I, with a physical disability am better off in an institution rather than being on my own. Without having “related services” I would not have learned to walk, or be able to be independent. Perhaps you think I need someone to wipe my ass for me.

    As far as spanking in schools, my mother, an advocate of spanking in the home felt it should be illegal in the schools because as a caseworker, has seen where spanking in schools has gone too far where the decisions of the parent regarding discipline is totally removed from them, and spanking in schools would be used too frequently with minor infractions. In Europe, particularly Norway has banned spanking not only in the schools, since the early 70’s, but also bans the use of spanking in the home. Does spanking tell a child NOT to do something, or does it mean something else?

    I think back then parents supported teachers more than they do now. They also saw the point in education. Parents now feel education is babysittting. From my experience as a teacher for over 25 years, the increase of people getting GED’s has risen, nearly tripled in the last 10 years. To me, getting a GED is the lazy way of getting a true education.

  24. itwasntmethistime says:

    commomcents — No matter what his reason or justification or whatever, the bottom line is that one kid’s crappy home life has ruined the rest of the school year for about 400 kids. Why is his legal right to a seat in a classroom, no matter how bad his behavior, more important than the right of 400 other children to be educated?

    We’ve seen the lawsuits from parents of disabled kids and parents of bullied kids. It won’t be long before parents of “normal” kids band together to sue the state for not providing a learning environment free from the distractions of problems other kids bring from home.

  25. cclngthr says:

    How do you propose separate types of classrooms for different kinds of kids? Are you suggesting that we have separate schools for disabled people; separate schools for troubled kids; separate schools for normal kids; separate schools for bullied kids?

    The US Supreme court ruled in 1953 that schools cannot have separate schools for different kids because that is illegal under federal law to have separate schools because separate but equal is non-existant. They feel, in the Brown v Board of Ed ruing that laws advocating separate schools for certain individuals is unconstitutional under the 14th Amendment. That case sets a standard not only with different ethnic backgrounds, but all students be integrated into the same school. It reversed the Plessy case.

    Stuart vs. Nappi ruling orders schools to retain troubled students in the education system under the IDEA law. This case requires students to have a LRE placement, and IF students are expelled (with disabilities) a re-evaluation MUST occur regarding the change.

    The Tinker case involves students rights that don’t stop at school. Bethel School District vs Fraser clarified how schools are able to limit students actions.

    I have serious doubts how you are going to achieve a system that limits public education to be only academic and prevents certain kids from attending school because of their behavior, disability or action you feel is a distraction. Too many hurdles are there to overcome.

  26. Teachers deserve little to no blame; parents, on the other hand, are responsible for their child’s safety, nutrition, proper socialization and ABILITY/PREPAREDNESS to learn in school.

    It appears the 3rd grader who brought the gun is the spawn of two unfit parents and has been shuttled around to different caretakers his whole life. No teacher can undo what his crap-tastic parents have inflicted on him.

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