I have two students in my math classes that are brilliant boys, but both have serious issues and are infamous around the school with poor reputations that precede them.
One of them had been recently suspended for quite some time. Prior to his recent "conviction," he had brought a knife to school. Because of his horrendously disrespectful attitude towards authority and even his fellow classmates, a serious suspension followed. His most recent offense included "tagging" the school buildings and football goalposts. He was caught, "convicted," and the hearing/sentencing was held today at the main office in the Chief Muckity-Muck's palatial palace, and it was there that this hooligan was expelled and ordered to attend an "alternative" school.
I spoke to the boy's father prior to the hearing and told him that lawyers, rules, regulations, and fear of reprisals if no punitive measures were taken were going to make it very difficult for his son to get out of the situation.
I also added that we are more frightened of children than we used to be, and I believe it is because of our fear. What would happen to ME if this student repeats the assault on Columbine High School? What would happen to ME if someone was actually hurt because I failed to do anything? What would happen to ME if I didn't take precautions? What would happen to ME if I didn't do this or that?
We take care of ourselves, don't we. But do we take care of others? I didn't speak up for that boy, and I am condemning myself for failing to do so. I didn't call in sick and show up at the hearing to beg clemency and mercy for that boy. I didn't prevent his being expelled and his parents forced to drive him across town to an alternative school.
I am also being overly harsh on myself, because this boy and I once had this conversation:
"Elliot, you treat me very disrespectfully. You talk to me as if I am nothing, a worthless human being. Am I ever going to earn your respect and will you ever treat me respectfully?"
"Nah. I don't see any reason that I should." I will never forget the look on his face. I excel at poker; I would never call his bluff.
I didn't go to the hearing. I didn't help plead his case, but I don't think I would have made a difference. Did I do wrong?
There were two boys mentioned earlier. The other boy is also getting himself into trouble, but his offenses aren't as severe. He treats me with respect and listens to me. If he gets in over his head, I will call in sick and be there for his hearing/sentencing. I will fight the good fight for this boy. I will do anything to help this young man. He has recently been suspended. I must get ready for battle, and begin putting on my armor. I don't even want to go to battle in the Muckity-Muck's palatial palace. I want to win the war. I want this boy to turn around. He is in my sights and I am focused. He and I will win this battle.