The violence at Worcester’s North High School: how to make our schools safe

By Edith Morgan

[North High] teachers are afraid – administrators get attacked, thugs run rampant … .  Why? Because staff have been for decades dis-empowered: fear arises from powerlessness.

If teachers are to be held responsible for the learning and behavior of students, they MUST have the power to enforce rules, keep order, insist on performance, and be backed up when they report infractions.

It is the responsibility of parents to send to school children who have been trained to be responsible, respectful, and willing to learn.  We have alternative programs for those students who can not, or will not, allow learning to take place, and who are so ego-ridden that they must disrupt the learning of others.

I know teachers know who these students are, and they should feel supported when they take action to secure their classes. And any student who lays a finger on staff should be automatically remanded into an alternative program.

Teachers and staff who feel the need for training in getting respect should have it made available immediately. But above all, power and responsibility must go hand in hand: power has to be earned, little by little, as ability to behave responsibly is demonstrated.

All children and young people deserve protection, from parents and schools, but not decision-making power without assuming a lot of responsibility.

I would bet the teachers at North High School know exactly who the handful of troublemakers are. Identifying and isolating them would go a long way toward solving the school’s problems, and making all the rest of the student body safe.

InCity Times writer Edith Morgan was a teacher, foster parent, and served on the Worcester School Committee.