What Would Scott Say?

Jun 23, 2011 by

Placid though with a hint of sullenness. Settled down more or less but with a palpable touch of volatility. Inscrutable. Maybe not much there. Didn’t contribute to the lesson, but his presence was a fixture in the classroom atmosphere. He was best when not bothered but every kid needs to be bothered with sometimes. We must reach out especially to those who move away from reach.

Scott ( not his real name ) was inexplicably absent for a long stretch and the school administration neither volunteered nor replied to inquiries from any of Scott’s teachers, nor was his family forthcoming.

Forcing myself ( in a perfect world that shouldn’t have been necessary, but frankly Scott was not much a provocateur of empathy) to care, when he finally showed up in class again after his mysterious hiatus, I broke the conversational ice by welcoming him and asking about a rather alarming disfigurement to his ear that was new and in an early stage of healing. Turns out that Scott was mending and had been away from school for reasons more legal than medical, that his teachers ( in charge of protecting Scott’s classmates as well as reasonably safeguarding their own skin) had no right to be apprised about: Scott had shot and gravely injured a bus driver who had by mischance been in the trajectory of a bullet.

Scott had apparently suddenly and with no appreciable warning “lost it.” His action was as unpredictable as it was pathological.

Luckily he eventually moved on and out, even before the age of credit recovery.

So what’s the point of all this?

According to a June 14th post on the eschoolnews blog, the state of Texas “is close to enacting a law that would provide teachers with detailed information about the criminal histories of their students, opening juvenile files that have always been confidential and are unavailable in most states…Under the new measure, law enforcement agencies must provide school superintendents with ‘all pertinent details’ of the offenses committed by parolees, and superintendents must inform teachers. Teachers would also receive written notice of student arrests.”

Opponents of the proposed law insist that it would permanently scar the youth and thwart the objective of enabling them to grow and break free from the past and move on to a productive future. Supporters of the legislation, citing the 2009 fatal stabbing of a high school teacher in Tyler, Texas, view the greater priority to be the protection of educators from the peril of student violence.

According to Texas Youth Commission statistics, around 300 of the more than 4,200 violators who were paroled from the state juvenile justice system to enter Texas public schools had been convicted of aggravated sexual assault or aggravated robbery.

On what basis should the proposed law be enacted or voted down? As you weigh the issues as you identify them, what is the balance? Do the merits revolve around human rights, common sense or what?

Should I ask Scott?

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