I intended to look up a few outstanding public educational systems around the world in hopes to discover ways to improve the United States’ academic standing. We spend a lot of money on education in the U.S., but the fruit of our efforts often leaves much too be desired.
However, our system faces another challenge. During the past days and weeks, we have witnessed several lethal assaults on our children and our teachers. Part of the problem is because too many guns are available in the U.S. (300 million); many of these weapons are accessible in our own homes. Federal laws surrounding gun control are very relaxed — almost permissive.
This violence in our society and our schools has disturbed me so much that I urge you to think with me about the suggestions to reduce it. For in such a stressful environment, how can we provide safe learning experiences for our students, their teachers and their families? We need to move thoughtfully, but without unnecessary delay.
Below is my suggestion for proactively moving forward.
Title: Conversations with Challenging Families
When: Fall and Spring Semesters
Procedure: An Introductory Plenary Session
Audience: Could we think of our public school system as a four-legged stool?
- First Leg: The Parents and the Home
- Second Leg: The Teacher
- Third Leg: The Students
- Fourth Leg: Administration and Appropriate Consultants
Issues: A random sample of some issues which we may hear from our students could include uncontrollable fear and anger, lack of respect and trust.
Fall Session: A format of suggested issues would be distributed during the open plenary session for each of the “legs.” The entire group would be divided into their four subgroups to discuss, add and delete suggestions for improving their particular “leg” of the conversation. Each “leg” would agree on its own agenda (the suggested agenda in no way limits the issues to be discussed).
A recorder will be asked to summarize each group’s discussion for the benefit of the whole plenary when we reconvene. Ample time for discussion will be included.
At the conclusion of the first conversation a small group representing all four “legs” will be requested to draft some action strategies for our 2nd conversation. Additional suggestions will be solicited and distributed before spring.
We are just beginning, seeking higher ground. I sincerely solicit your suggestions and counsel!
Rev. Joseph L. Roberts, Jr.