Just so you know where I’m coming from as I direct my ire at some of the people in this community, let me give you a little background on things that matter in the last few weeks: Our local …
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Just so you know where I’m coming from as I direct my ire at some of the people in this community, let me give you a little background on things that matter in the last few weeks:
Our local secondary schools has had three students attempt suicide. Three. In the last two weeks.
There is a family in our community, a sweet family with great kids, whose world has been thrown upside-down by the sudden death of the father.
And these are just a couple things that I, in my professional role as busybody, happen to have heard about. But, events like these serve a wonderful, if terrible purpose: they provide perspective.
Now, I know there’s no way most of you reading this can possibly know of these events, they are isolated, and, thankfully, relatively private occurrences.
But for those of us who know of these sad events, the juxtaposition of those with the reaction of some in the community to the choice by Jefferson County Schools not to have a snow day last Wednesday could not be more jarring.
First of all, let me say this: Jeffco Schools made the right call. The two-hour delay schedule was designed to allow the district to maximize instructional time in the event of a passing weather phenomenon. By 10 o’clock in the morning on Wednesday, the snow had been finished for the better part of three hours, the trucks had been busy on the streets for most of the previous 24 hours, and the sun was fighting to peek out. Road conditions — which had been dicey at six in the morning — were quite passable at the time that most students were headed for school.
And, yet, the phone lines at Jeffco headquarters were lit up with complaints (and, apparently, neighboring Boulder Schools was even worse). And we’re not just talking your garden variety community member gripes. No, these included some extremely colorful language, if you know what I mean. There were crude and very personal ad hominem insults. And there were even threats for district administrators. It was bad enough that the Superintendent, Dr. Jason Glass, felt the need to send out an email that night reminding the community of what we should expect from each other in terms of civil discourse. And, if you’re tempted to think that maybe it wasn’t that bad, that we overreacted as a community to these attacks, consider that the Boulder version of events earned a segment on the evening news.
Apparently, a good chunk of the offending comments have been traced back to high school age kids in the community. But, that still leaves a significant number of vile comments attributable to “adults” — and I use that term advisedly.
How in the world are we supposed to teach our students how to behave civilly, to manage to disagree civilly, and to co-exist with other people in their classrooms and in their worlds, when adults around us feel so empowered by their online anonymity that they choose to use it to amplify their worst, most base instincts?
Has it occurred to some of you that almost assuredly some of the anxiety our students feel these days has to do with the way we adults amplify every disagreement into a war that has to be won in a take-no-prisoners kind of way?
Calm. The heck. Down.
If you really must find an outlet for your anger, how about you start to transfer all that excess energy into the community, now that the Holiday season is fully on us. Frustrated at the election? Go work at a food bank. Angry about the Broncos? Go take a few old blankets to a homeless shelter. Having a tough time digesting the evening news? Go outside and throw the ball with the neighborhood kids.
Figure out how to cope with disappointment. Because our kids are in pain — and we’re all too angry to notice.
Michael Alcorn is a teacher and writer who lives in Arvada with his wife and three children. His new novel, “Charon’s Blade,” is available at Amazon.com, on Kindle, or through MichaelJAlcorn.com.” His opinions are not necessarily those of Colorado Community Media.
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