Violence in Vermont classroom not isolated incident


By Rob Roper

There has been a reported uptick in bad behavior in Vermont’s public schools, highlighted this past week by incidents in Bristol, where a second grader in the local elementary school destroyed a classroom. If you see the pictures, it is difficult to believe a seven-year-old could be capable of inflicting this kind of damage. And, according to multiple reports, this is not an isolated incident.

The Addison Independent printed a two-page long, bullet pointed list of the property damage done, mental and physical injuries to students and teachers, and significant disruptions to the learning process, such as, “Staff members have been bitten, spit on, kicked, punched, urinated on, hit by thrown objects, etc. They have also been verbally threatened by students. Some have had to lock themselves into a room in order to be safe.” (Addison Independent)

A story from WCAX details how a six-year-old describe his day at school as, “I almost witnessed a murder,” and recounted to his mom how he saw an out-of-control student pin his friend behind a table to the point where the child could not breath. (WCAX, 10/13/21)

First of all, no child of any age should be forced by law to enter an environment where they do not feel safe – and apparently are NOT safe — on a daily basis, with no other alternative unless their parents are wealthy enough to buy their way out of the system. Every parent deserves the right to say this is not right for my child, I am removing them from this toxic environment today, and the public resources provided by the taxpayers for the education of my child will follow my child to a functional learning environment.

Second, who thinks for a minute the children causing this damage are getting the care they need by being dropped off at the public school every morning? Clearly, they are not being well served either. It is not insensitive or discriminatory to point out the obvious fact that these kids need to be somewhere else, both for their own benefit and the benefit of the students and teachers being terrorized by their presence.

Administrators blame the rise in violent and anti-social behavior on the Covid lockdowns. A Bristol school board member was quoted in a Seven Days article, “The ongoing pandemic has impacted us in many ways, but it has disproportionately impacted our most vulnerable community members.” I’m sure there is truth in this. But, I’m also sure some of this disproportionate damage could have been avoided if we allowed parents to take their share of education dollars and use it to find some enriching opportunities for their children to participate in during the pandemic. Instead, we poured hundreds of millions of dollars into schools that weren’t open. This is the result of that decision.   

Public schools operate on the myth that they can and do serve everyone. They can’t and they don’t. Nobody can. Certainly not in the same building. A school set up to meet the needs of a kid prone to outbursts that involve room vandalism on a scale that would astonish Keith Moon and behavior that includes “slamming and kicking the door, yelling at [the teacher] to ‘open the f’ing door. Open the door, you f’ing b,’” while fellow students “were crying and screaming, and students were hiding under tables … Seven Days), is not going to successfully meet the needs of the child who shows a quiet and diligent interest in learning fractions and grammar. Nor vice versa. It’s not fair to either to continue pretending otherwise.

– Rob Roper is president of the Ethan Allen Institute

Categories: Education

5 replies »

  1. This is not a new problem. It has nothing to do with Covid. I was a second grade teacher for 32 years. I had to leave, because it was becoming unbearable. About seven years ago, I had a student destroy my classroom on the morning of the first day of school, before the rest of my class even came in. The students arrived to the scene that the pictures of the classroom in Bristol illustrated. The recent pictures shown on the news brought back chilling memories. We must have choices for parents who care about their children’s education.

  2. This has NOTHING to do with Covid. It does have to do with Godlessness, with our rapidly deteriorating culture, the breakdown of both nuclear and extended family, the fact that children are no longer taught respect, responsibility, or even reality in terms of what they are instructed within public schools: males can transform into females, the hyper-sexualization of children, everyone who is white is a racist, murdering the unborn is a virtuous act, etc. etc. etc.

    What did parents & teachers & administrators THINK was going to happen??

    TEACH your children WELL: CSN…….stop teaching CRT.

  3. When I was in primary school and high school in the mid 1950s and late 60s, this kind of behavior was unthinkable. First, anyone in the act would be physically stopped. Second, they would have been administered corporal punishment, first by school officials, and later no doubt at home by their parents. People growing up in my generation can remember school boys brining their hunting rifles to school on the first day of deer season, without anyone fearing a mass shooting.

    We have to ask ourselves, “What changed?” Certainly Kathy Henry is on the right track. Generally, as a society we have been forcing God out for generations. In the words of a familiar country song, we need to know when to “hold em” and when to “fold em”. With regards to progressive ideals, it is high time we tell the emperor that he has no clothes. Their programs, based on historic failures are doomed to the same destiny. We may have reached a tipping point in the current climate where there’s too much momentum on the part of progressives, that we can’t “fold em” as we would like. This is aggravated by the fact that they don’t listen to reason, but continue to act on their utopian dreams in spite of continued failure of their ideas to produce the results promised.

    I feel for anyone who is a teacher now in the public schools. They have been given responsibility, without the authority to back it up. With respect to discipline, we have tied their hands, expecting them to fulfill their function. Most, nobly, stick it out and do the best they can with what they have. These working conditions should be the topic of labor negotiations. No teacher should have to put up with this. But I doubt they would get much support from the NEA, which seems to support the programs leading up to this situation.

  4. Do you realize that most school districts hire “sitters” for individual children with behavior problems. This costs the taxpayers many hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not millions from educational funds. Why is it that when many of us attended schools, elementary through high school, teachers had 25 or 30 students, starting in first grade and there never was a problem that the teacher couldn’t handle peacefully with no disturbance. I have to think that much starts right in the home situation.

    • Schools always blame parents for the emotional and behavioral problems kids bring with them. But the criticism is suspect.

      Prior to the pandemic at least, children spent almost as much time in school and at school functions as they did at home. School teachers, counselors, nurses, and administrators have consistently dominated parental disciplinary discretion. School staff are required to report even suspiciously curious behavioral circumstances as possible child abuse to various authorities. And sometimes, at least in my experience serving on a local school board, school staff have used their discretion to purposely intimidate parents. In fact, now we see this practice resonating as high up as the Department of Justice, AG Merrick Garland, and the FBI, declaring parents as ‘domestic terrorists’ – all at the behest of local school boards, their State and National School Boards Association – organizations controlled by education special interest groups like the Principal’s Association, the Superintendent’s Association, and the teacher unions.

      Here’s the question you should answer. If parents are primarily responsible for their children’s well-being, why do these organizations continue to block a parent’s right to choose the education program they believe best meets the needs of their children?

      Answer: Because there’s money in dysfunction. The education special interest groups are simply getting rich at the expense of our children. The more problems the children have, the more money these special interest groups demand to cope with them. And these people know, because study after study has shown us this, that when parents can choose the education programs they believe best meet the needs of their children, not only to behavioral problems decline, academic performance rises, and, the cost to the taxpayer decreases as well.

      If we want parents to be responsible, let them BE responsible.

      All I can say is this – over and again. Behavioral Disabilities and violence in our schools is on the rise. The public-school monopoly can’t protect your kids. More than half of our high school graduates don’t meet grade level standards. And we’re already spending as much per student per year as it costs to send an in-state student to Castleton University, INCLUDING Room and Board. Do what you can now to get your children into a school that will accommodate your position of responsibility – or homeschool. Time is of the essence.