The Hand vs. The Gun
In January of this year, a 6 year old shot his teacher in Newport News, Virginia. We here at Beacon of Speech felt terrible for the teacher, but our writing angle was that we didn't like the way CNN was reporting the story.
Fast forward two months and the teacher gave an on-air interview with NBC News. CNN
picked back up the the thread and who was their villain? The Gun.
Now let me be clear, I am not a member of the NRA. Beacon of Speech only exists thanks to the good graces of the First Amendment. Our philosophy is that once the Second Amendment is repealed, the First Amendment is next.
With that being said, why the continued focus on Newport News? Because I am curious as to: Who exactly was the shooter?
You are screaming at the monitor- "What's your point? The kid is 6!!!! He's a minor!"
Work with me here, because we have to connect a few items that are left unsaid. In the NBC News story, there are a lot of red flags. First of all, it is noted that the student had an "acute disability" that required the parents to attend school with the student.
Uh, let's start there. I work for a school district and we have zero students that require parental attendance. ZERO. In my mind, I have a picture of the students in our district with the most severe mental disabilities and the most severe physical disabilities. Their parents are in the loop in regards to their students' educational day, but none of them are required to attend school. Have you ever heard of a parent of a disabled student attending class with them?
What disability would require parental attendance? The only thing I could think of would be ODD, Oppositional Defiance Disorder.
Now why would ODD be the likely disability? Because, red flag #2, the student was suspended for one day for breaking the teacher's cell phone two days prior to the shooting. How much do you think a cell phone cost? Let's say $750, just for argument. Do you think a one day suspension is enough for a 6 year old that smashes a piece of electronics that belonged to his teacher ? (It's not.) In the state of Virginia, do you know that, technically, if the student grabbed the phone, then broke it, that incident could have fallen under the statutes of grand larceny, depending on the phone's cost?
Which brings us to red flag #3. This is the most important red flag. So the student apparently has an IEP Individualized Educational Plan which spells out a disability. There is already an action plan between the district and the parents. There is a recent suspension. And now, on the day of the shooting, concerned teachers and staff contacted the administration that the student in question may have had a gun. On three different occasions.
Why would the administration fail to act? A simple student search could have averted this whole mess.
Because in a district that is 75% minority, I speculate that the administration would not want to appear racist by searching a minority "disabled" student for a gun. I don't want the kid's name, I want the kid's demographic. Oh, and why did I put disabled in quotations?
Let's step back for a minute. Why would I play the race card? I'm not that guy, you can search our archives. But in the case of teenager Tamir Rice, the media framed a black teenager being shot by a white cop as "Institutional Racism." It wasn't the gun's fault, it was the fault of the Institutions of Power.
In this case, it appears a minority student shot a representative of the Institution of Education and CNN says there's nothing to see here, just another reason that we need gun control.
Notice that the parents of the student have issued a statement, but they haven't publicly come forward. You cannot charge the 6 year old with a crime, but you can charge the parents for giving a 6 year old access to a gun. If the IEP states that parents have to be at school and they weren't there, that's a referral to social services. And no one has stated, for the record, if the student has even been expelled.
Yet CNN is still beating the "it's the gun's fault" drum.
Now let's circle back to ODD.
Can you test for ODD in a lab? No.
Can you see ODD, like you would see a student had, say, a missing leg? No.
Is there an ODD test? No.
In the olden days, ODD was a bad kid. In the era of No Kid Left Behind, there are no bad kids.
A kid who shoots his teacher is the definition of a bad kid.
In the year 2023, if you say any "disabled" kid is a bad kid, you are out of the education business. Every kid has a right to an education, but that right doesn't include the right not to be disciplined.
And you are now starting to see more examples as to how educators' hands are being tied.
With all that being said, I wish Ms. Zwerner all the best in the future. She was really put between a rock and a hard spot. You love your students, but don't want to be assaulted by your students. That's where the administration failed her. I hope she wins her lawsuit against the district.
But I have to say, she's only 25. If her dream was to be a teacher, even if she gets a monetary settlement, what does she do next?