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Fort Smith
Tuesday, April 23, 2024

This School Needs You


This school needs you.  In times of tragedy, it’s easy to look for blame.  Often times you are looking for answers you are never going to find. Unfortunately, I speak from experience. Instead of casting blame, let’s try to make it better.   That social media platform you use to rip teachers and school administrators is the same social media that is contributing to today’s problem.  Most parents don’t have a clue.  Ask any teacher what the biggest problem in school today is with regards to fights and class disruptions.  The answer might surprise you. 

Bullying happens at every school.  I’m not naïve enough to say bullying doesn’t exist.  What I’m saying is that there are administrators and teachers who are committed to providing the safest learning environment for your child.  I see these men and women every day.  I have seen them work with each student to provide for them.  Speaking of providing, that school that some love to tear down on social media is the sole meal provider for many kids in the district.  I’ve been in the homes where cupboards were bare.  I’ve seen the kids show up late to school and the first question they ask is “Is it too late to eat breakfast?”  I see kids wear the same clothes day in and day out.  Instead of offering to lend a hand there are those who gripe about what position their kid is playing on the sports team and how that ruined their life. Our poverty level is 43%.  The national average is 14%. 

 Perspective is everything.

“Bullying” means the intentional harassment, intimidation, humiliation, ridicule, defamation, or threat or incitement of violence by a student against another student or public-school employee by a written, verbal, electronic, or physical act that may address an attribute of the other student, public school employee, or person with whom the other student or public-school employee is associated and that causes or creates actual or reasonably foreseeable:

    (A)  Physical harm to a public-school employee or student or damage to the public school employee’s or student’s property;

    (B)  Substantial interference with a student’s education or with a public-school employee’s role in education;

    (C)  A hostile educational environment for one (1) or more students or public-school employees due to the severity, persistence, or pervasiveness of the act; or

    (D)  Substantial disruption of the orderly operation of the school or educational environment.

A couple of months ago I was having lunch in the cafeteria.  A boy probably no older than nine years old tugged on the backpack of a little girl.  The little girl comes running to me and said: “My mom said that’s bullying and you need to arrest him”.  That’s where we’re at in society.  I don’t have the answer.  I wish I did.  Bullying serves no place in school.  I get it.  What we cannot do is paint every interaction or disagreement between children with such a broad brush and claim everything is a bullying issue or a school issue.  If you think there is a bullying issue, by all means, report it to the school officials.  But be clear on what bullying is.  Not all of the problems are a school issue.  Some of the problems is a home issue. The school district and police department both know this.  The number of FINS(Families in need of services) petitions filed is growing.  FINS is not a punishment, it’s a tool to help get families help that they need. 

As I mentioned earlier, social media is one of the biggest problems.  News Flash parents, it isn’t Facebook.  I recently spoke to an instructor who goes to schools as speaks on the issue of Human Trafficking dangers.  At a local school, she polled 197 kids.  Do you know how many use Facebook? Zero.  Every one of those 197 kids uses Snapchat. Facebook is for old people like us.  In ten years, it will probably be what Myspace has become.  Snapchat is what they’re using to text, send pictures, and videos.  The problem for law enforcement and school officials is it all disappears.  By the way, the Instagram account you see of your kids is probably not the same one they’re using with their friends.  Make yourself familiar with these apps.  It’s what I had to do.  When you walk into school today, it’s the same as when you and I walked the halls.  It’s easy to see the cliques.  The jocks are there in that corner, there are the band kids, there are the cheerleaders, etc. The only difference between when we went to school and current students today is that device they have stuck in front of their face all day.  There’s no rule that says that they have to bring a cell phone to school.  Make them leave it home for a week.  See if their grades improve.  See if they’re more engaged with you instead of their phones.

This school cannot do it by themselves without your help.  Instead of searching for ways to complain, let’s do our part to help and look at those at the school for inspiration.  There’s a saying that’s been going around for a few years in reference to police and firefighters.  It goes “Not all heroes wear capes”.  My heroes are teaching your children.  There’s an 82-year-old man who volunteers his time each morning at the crosswalk to make it just a little better and a little safer.  There’s a robotics team that just went to state.  There are FBLA members who are consistently recognized year after year for their achievements.  There’s EAST who dedicate their time and resources to help in the community.  A football team who has become one of the most successful programs in the area over the last several years. A group of cheerleaders who’s sponsor spends hours of her free time and carry’s her baby with her to practice just to make sure her girls get the practice time in they need. A basketball and baseball team who work hard each year to be the best they can be. A volleyball team who is gaining recognition statewide for their achievements in a short period of time. A little league organization who are volunteering their time to mentor some of the best young athletes in the area.  A band who may be small in numbers but show up to every game just to be heard and cheer on their team. These groups all have one thing in common.  They have teachers who support them.  None of these organizations can function on their own and they need your help.  Over 93% of the teachers at Hackett School District have more than three years’ experience.  What that tells me is they love their job and they love their kids. What they love even more is your support.

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