Monday, May 04, 2015

A Matter Of Degrees

I still have this knee-jerk reaction to click on stories that mention Colorado. Maybe it's more of a mouse-finger-jerk reaction, but it continues essentially unabated since I moved to California more than twenty years ago. This is especially true when I see that it involves a student or school in the Centennial State, the land of my birth. I was a student there. I went to school there. When I left, I had no real inkling that I would eventually become a teacher, but I maintained a strong connection to the institutions and instructors who made me what I am today. That is probably why the story of Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold and their assault on Columbine High School rang so loud an long in my life. I went to Columbine. Not the high school, but an elementary school in Boulder, not Littleton. In all the ways Columbine High School was not Columbine Elementary School, there was still this connective tissue that ran through it all. Or maybe it was just me. And anyone who watched the events unfold in those days before the turn of the century. Way back when school shootings were national news. Before they became almost interchangeable. Pick a state, pick a grade level. There is a school where you can find victims.
There are people who went to school in Connecticut who probably feel the same way. They probably had the same wish I had, once upon a time, that this would be the last time. These would be the last kids killed in that place where they were supposed to be safe. The name Sandy Hook hangs in the air with the same dreadful weight as Columbine. It used to be that I could satisfy myself with the righteous position of gun control solving the problem. Then there's this: A fourteen year old girl was stabbed in the back at Aspen Creek school in Broomfiled, Colorado last week. I know this because it met my criteria for clickable news: Colorado. School. It was violence at a school, not twenty minutes from where I grew up. And went to school. Not once during those years did I think or worry about being shot, stabbed, maimed or hurt in any way other than the threat of getting beat up (never happened) or teased mercilessly (happened frequently). I lived in fear of being bullied, not of being killed.
I know. That was a different time. It was a different world. I suppose back in those days I could have looked to reports of school violence in California or New York and soothed myself with the idea that something bad could happens to students and teachers someplace else. Not where I grew up and went to school. This was the kind of thing I saw in "Up The Down Staircase." Inner city. Movie inner city. Apparently, I was wrong.

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