Friday, November 22, 2013

Sensational News

I was going to be much quieter about this. I swear I was. But the further it goes, the less quiet I can be. This is a terrible situation all around and much of the talk going around about it is unhealthy, ungrounded, and/or pure speculation. 

It really could happen anywhere. We always hope our kids won't have to go through something like this. . . and then it happens. Your kid's had substitute teachers for several weeks and it's starting to seem really odd and the local news says a teacher was just arrested for "alleged misconduct" after an investigation into allegations that said teacher had been physically aggressive with a student. 

Well, dang. That explains the absence, I guess.  But. . . dang.

And hey. . . have the news crews been hanging around my kids' school taking pictures of it? That's creepy, guys. 

And. . . dang.

Then the rumor mill starts turning. Parents are mad at the administration for not communicating better about this. Parents are mad at the teacher. Parents are mad at the student who made the allegations. Speculation abounds and people are talking. And talking. And talking more. All talking, no listening. All accusing, no praying. All gossip, no support. 

Great. Now the only option is to tell your kids about it because it's better that they hear it from their parents rather than the gossip train at school. Sigh.

Then you brace yourself. It's only a matter of time before people start referring to this incident as a product of public schools or inner city schools. As if this doesn't happen in suburban schools and private schools too.

The news and the school administration are careful to say "alleged" in every other sentence, but it seems like the rest of the world is quick to convict based on very little evidence. There's always more to it than the nightly news tells. . . more to it than the paper shows. . . more to it than the Facebook newsfeed says. But the camps are already dividing before the hearings and charges and juries. 

I know and love too many teachers to jump on board to vilify this teacher. I know and love too many kids to jump on board and vilify the child.

What can we do when this kind of thing happens? On whose side do we stand?

How about standing on the sides of the issue that everyone forgets about? The shame is that these are the sides of the issue that we can do something about. These are the sides of the issue that make the real difference. We can give voice to voices that are lost in the midst of yelling and pointing and accusing. 

I for one will stand on the side of my little daughter and of all her little classmates. I don't hear anyone talking about what we're going to do to nurture the other kids in this class. Kids need routine and this sort of thing causes turmoil. I will encourage my daughter, talk to her, hug her, pray for her and with her, and remind her that she and every child in that class are beautiful and wonderful people, even when bad and confusing stuff happens. I'll remind her that everyone is feeling stressed and hurt by this and that we must be careful to act and speak out of love at all times. . . especially when the world feels upside down.

I will stand on the side of the school we love so much and the administration that is navigating a super awful, majorly sticky, impossible situation because they have always stood up for my children. I don't know why they didn't tell us more about this sooner. I just know that I don't envy the job of the principal who has to figure out this legal minefield all while trying to run a school and deal with what's going to be about 650,000 phone calls today. There is no way for them to make everyone happy, nor is it their job to do so.

I will stand on the side of all the other teachers and staff at the school. Can you imagine if a coworker was accused of something like this? The questions the kids in the other classes are asking them? And how about the substitute and assistant teacher in the directly affected class? I will stand with them and pray for them because holy cow, my son's teacher should be nominated for sainthood for putting up with his crazy antics and his flaky mother. Neither of our kids have ever been mistreated by a teacher at that school and we have nothing but good things to say about that whole staff. It could happen anywhere. 

I will stand on the side of truth and integrity. I'm not going to speculate publicly (and I'm going to try to avoid speculation in the safety of my own head too). I wasn't there. I don't know what happened. What I do know is that if I were either the accused teacher or the family of the child making the accusations, I wouldn't want everyone under the sun telling a story they don't own or even really know. To do so is to slander one party or the other and to cast unfair/undue judgment.

Also. . . I think I should send a gift card or fruit basket or something to my son's teacher and to my daughter's sub and assistant teacher. 

Because. . . dang.

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