The victim reported that the suspect walked up to him which what was reported to be a shank. He walked behind him and grabbed him by the head. The suspect pulled the victim’s head back and pressed the scissor against the back of his neck, then pulled the scissor down and pressed the pointed end of the scissor against his spine.
Apparently, the suspect and an accomplice were expelled from the school.
This is my neighborhood school and it has a long history of internal discipline and academic problems and hostile relations with the surrounding community. Madrona K-8 has fallen below the No Child Left Behind academic standards several years running and its parents are now allowed to transfer their children to other schools with more successful records. Regarding school violence, I personally know of a fight between a large group of unsupervised students at a neighboring park frequented by them which endangered my then very young children.
The principal, Kaaren Andrews, touted by the district a one of its wunderkind academic leaders, reacted by indirectly accusing two women who were caring for our children of insulting the students and disparaging the principal’s commitment to them (which never happened). The clear implication raised by Andrews and a district employee who spoke at a public community meeting was that the nannies harbored racist attitudes toward the children (which was preposterous since the rowdy group was racially–mixed and included Anglo children).
When I called Andrews to report that her students had been fighting and unsupervised she reacted defensively and dismissively. A call to Andrews’ supervisor at district headquarters, Ruth Metzger, went unanswered until I sent an e-mail to the district superintendent.
Regarding the most recent violent incident, the reporter notes unsurprisingly that a call to Kaaren Andrews was unanswered. You’d think that after an incident like this that any sensitive educator would wish to reassure the community about the safety of her school and the measures taken to ensure the safety of her charges. You’d think she’d have some training in crisis management and the concept of getting out ahead of a story; of telling the public the unvarnished truth about what happened and what she’s doing to ensure it won’t happen again; of reassuring the public that her top concern is the safety of her students more than even her own reputation and the school’s. Not surprisingly, we heard none of that from Andrews. She relied on a District bureaucrat to deal with the press. And what a ‘deal’ it was. Here are some of the choice passages from the article quoting a District manager:
“I have not seen any handmade shanks in one of our schools, so this was quite unusual for us, said Pegi McEvoy, manger of safety and security for the District. “It certainly was an extreme case we hadn’t seen before.”
As for the tension between [7th and 8th] grades, McEvoy said every school experiences the challenges of “kids sorting through the pecking order.”
Indeed they do, and every school population sorts through these developmental issues by pulling shanks on each other, right? Hey, I might expect this in state prison, but I don’t expect it in a Seattle middle school.
McEvoy continued with her apologetics for teenage school violence:
“This was more dramatic, absolutely…but we see it every place. It’s something we’re attuned to…and we know every school year we have to work through this. It’s part of the social structure of schools.
Consistency is not one of McEvoy’s strong suits. The shank incident was “unusual” and “certainly an extreme case,” but something “we know every year we have to work through.” Which one is it?
The District’s masterful performance continues:
“What we’re hearing from SPD (Seattle Police Department) and kids report to us, that there is an increase of gang activity in the community, but it’s not transferring into school behavior.”
Which is precisely contradicted by the incident she’s reporting. Of course, the article doesn’t make clear whether the suspect was a gang member. But the fact that his behavior mirrored gang-type actions is completely contradicted by McEvoy’s obfuscation.
And who’s really at fault if not gangs? Certainly not the School, oh no. Hold onto your hat: its’ the media.
According to McEvoy, outside media and environmental influences play a significant factor in an incident like this.
“Students learn through the TV and things that happen in the community and about how to respond to conflict…and unfortunately there have been media out there talking about making shanks, so we have kids who have copycatted that.
“We’re alway looking at media trends and alerting staff to say, ‘You may see this in the school,'” she added.
Well, now I feel so much better. But this reassures me no end:
Another aspect to prevention hinges on older students acting as positive role models…
“Any time kids older behave well, that’s a role model, and when they don’t behave well, it’s still a role model.”
And part of the prevention stems from the district’s anti-bullying curriculum…[which] focuses on anger management, understanding social cues, making friends and anti-bullying.
It worked like a charm here, didn’t it?
The problem with the Seattle Public School District is that its representatives are dysfunctional, defensive and borderline competent. They are common-sense challenged and wrapped up in petty bureaucratic infighting and turf protection. They follow when they should be leading and lead when they should be following. They don’t care about things they should care about and see their natural constituency, parents and the general public as the enemy. The District bureaucrats measure school performance solely based on test scores and they reward failing schools like Madrona K-8 by noting the improvement in their test scores (which were failing to begin with) and disparage schools with successful curriculum and test scores because their scores allegedly are not improving.
The District superintendent is a petty tyrant who ignores School District policy when it suits. She doesn’t consult with parents on decisions affecting their particular schools and acts in a totally peremptory way. I’m guessing that because the District has had a bad history of choosing leaders since the last good one, John Stanford, passed away, that the Board of Education has declined to intercede as they should. And the Board is a whole other kettle of fish responsible for a good part of the District’s problems as well.
And I say all these things not based on anecdotes but based on cold, hard personal experience. I also say this as someone with a child in a Seattle public school (one of the good ones which is receiving little support from the District).
By the way, the Madison Park Times article is not on its website (it was the lead story in the print edition). My e-mail to the reporter asking why the article isn’t online was unanswered. Could it be that the District pressured the paper not to make it accessible?