Students in the Akron Public Schools District, Ohio will be returning to school on January 6. Teachers could strike on January 9 to extend their holiday break. The matter was referred to a federal mediator.
Although there are many issues that remain unresolved, school safety is the most important. Patricia Shipe, president of the Akron Education Association stated in a press statement:
Akron Public Schools has not responded to community concerns about school security and safety. The superintendent and board are trying to lower the definition of assault so that students, teachers, and parents don’t have to endure more violence, disorder, and disruption in their education.
Teachers are leaving at an alarming rate, according to the association
The Beacon Journal used data from a school counselor in order to determine that 60 assaults had occurred on staff members over the past year. 25% of those attacks were committed by kindergartners. The teacher’s association claims 18 of those assaults were committed against kindergarteners. 27% of the incidents were committed by children in 6-8 grade.
District officials said in December that they would spend $3.5 million to upgrade safety equipment, but the district did not take part in a grant program from the state that allocated $58 million for school safety. The association holds that grant money could have been used for the effort, and the $3.5 million could have gone to hiring new teachers. The association alleges that three-fifths of the teaching positions in the district are vacant or filled by unqualified people.
When I was a kid, I went to a city public middle school and a city high school. And yes, there was a violent element there. I got beat up and harassed, and to some degree, it was accepted. Not necessarily by the staff, but it was considered to be part and parcel of the student ecosystem. But in middle school, it was limited to your garden-variety schoolyard bullying.
The game got a little more real in high school, but no one ever attacked a teacher, and no one ever brought a gun to school. Well, maybe I should qualify that to say that no one ever got caught bringing a gun to school. Weed, yes. Guns, no. And the idea of criminal assault was unthinkable in middle school. Of course, that was decades ago. And you don’t need me to track the changes between the ’70s and ’80s and the 2020s for you. To a certain degree, we are getting the students we asked for or at least should have expected.