Rant Alert

Today is Wednesday, but my grandson isn’t at school this morning, and neither are 350 or so out of the 1000 kids at his school. How come? It seems that yesterday there was an anonymous school-shooter threat sent out over Instagram or Snapchat. Fortunately some of the kids broke ranks and reported it. According to the school district, police are investigating the incident. When my daughter heard about the incident, she attempted to call the district’s threat assessment number. Her call went directly to voice mail—no living breathing human was available. Last night the school sent out a platitude filled e-mail explaining how they would be doing everything possible to keep students and staff safe. Well obviously at least a third of the parental units involved didn’t quite believe those words were … well … mightier than the sword, as it were.

They also may have looked at what was on the docket for today’s half day of “school,” and decided five classes of twenty minute duration plus an hour long district-mandated “Advisory” class which is actually something purported to teach the students so called life skills like etiquette and empathy.

Etiquette? Isn’t that something you’re supposed to learn at home? Doesn’t that include things like opening doors for little old ladies or saying excuse me when you burp or saying please and thank you or sharing? I learned all of those things at my mother’s knee. Or in Sunday school. And I certainly didn’t need to have a sixty- minute class every week of eighth grade in order to have those “life skills” drummed into my head. They were already there.

If you are a person of a certain age, you are most likely smacking your forehead right now and saying, “What in the world is going on here?” You might even be tempted to include a few un-grandmotherly words while you’re at it. It seems to me that those are all things that ought to be taught in the home rather than at school! Whatever happened to the three R’s—reading, writing, and “rithmetic? My daughter is more than capable of teaching her son good manners, and she has done a remarkable job of same. She is definitely not qualified to teach him geometry or algebra. (Ditto for me. I couldn’t teach those, either!)

Back in the Ancient Eighties, one of the bestselling books on the lists for weeks on end was Robert Fulgham’s All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten. From what I can tell, the current 8th grade version of Life Skills includes learning to greet classmates in the hallway with eye contact—no electronic devices needed. But, if students happen to do do a good job of cleaning up after themselves in the cafeteria, they get extra device time one day a week. Right. In my book that would be called a mixed message. What about cleaning up after themselves in the cafeteria because it’s the right thing to do or even BECAUSE I SAID SO!!! Wouldn’t that qualify as one of your basic life skills?

And what about the kid who sent out that anonymous message? As of tonight law enforcement has determined that the author of the threat was indeed a student at the school. Obviously when it comes to living by the Golden Rule and treating others as you would like to be treated, s/he missed the memo. (I’m sure there’s some newly-mandated pronoun usage that is more inclusive than that, but I digress!)

Back in the old days, troublesome kids who wanted an unauthorized afternoon break from some tiresome teacher or other would set off the school’s fire alarm. Everyone went through an unscheduled fire drill and then returned to class. These days I suppose a few “school shooter” days need to be built into the school calendar right along with “snow days” By the way, in all my years of attending public schools in Bisbee, Arizona, I never remember a single snow day.

As for the source of the “anonymous” threat? Now that police investigators have tracked it back to its source, with the person who sent it be held accountable for terrifying kids, parents, and teachers? Will that person end up being unmasked or expelled? Not bloody likely. That person has Federally mandated “privacy protections. By next Wednesday, the culprit may well be right back in school, just in time for that week’s advisory class. After all, common sense seems to have gone out of fashion long ago.

I doubt attending life skill advisory classes will make one whit of difference for the author of those threats. By eighth grade, I’m pretty sure that ship has sailed.