Why I Honor Memorial Day

101026-M-8682Y-003“Courage, of all national qualities, is the most precarious; because it is exerted only at intervals, and by a few in every nation” wrote David Hume.  It takes courage to risk life and limb for our state and country. Norman Schwarzkopf said “It doesn’t take a hero to order men into battle. It takes a hero to be one of those men who goes into battle.”

It is fitting then, that we set aside a day to remember those who have given their lives in service for our country. The least we can do as a nation is to honor these heroes. These brave few who became legends meeting their end on a battlefield, fighting our nation’s enemies.

According to the book Roster of Soldiers and Patriots of the American Revolution Buried in Tennessee, there are about 4,500 veterans of the American Revolution interred in Tennessee.  One is my 4th great-grandfather, Colonel James Taylor, who is buried at Centenary Baptist Church in Blount County, Tennessee. Fortunately, he was able to come home and raise a family.   A privilege that was denied to many.

The first casualty of the American Revolution was Crispus Attucks.  He was killed during the Boston Massacre on March 5, 1770.  Attucks was believed to be the son of a slave and a Native American woman.  As hostilities intensified between the colonists and British soldiers, the British confronted a group of unruly colonists by opening fire and killing five men including Attucks, who was the first to die.  In his 1964 book Why We Can’t Wait, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. praised Attucks for his part in American history. It is worth noting that Attucks was displayed with the others at Faneuil Hall, where it lay in state.  The men were then entombed in a common sepulcher.  There was no segregation for Patriots.

Traditionally, Americans observed Memorial Day by visiting cemeteries and memorials of our fallen war heroes. In recent years, it has become more of a party celebrating the launch of summer, thus losing the original purpose and meaning.  I think we must remind ourselves to honor those courageous men and women who have served and then given their lives for the cause of freedom.  Freedom cannot guarantee a meaningful life, merely the possibility of having one. To keep that possibility, we need to embrace and strengthen freedom. It was Thomas Jefferson who reminded us: “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.”

We need to take a minute to THANK those veterans who gave their lives so we Americans can enjoy our liberty.  Life is so precious.  No doubt those who made the ultimate sacrifice had their hopes and dreams as well for our country.  We should also ask our politicians to remember those veterans who made it back and ensure that they get the benefits they were promised, and the highest quality medical care available—including mental health.

Thomas Smith wrote one of the best tributes to those who died for our nation: ““This country has not seen and probably will never know the true level of sacrifice of our veterans. As a civilian I owe an unpayable debt to all our military. Going forward let’s not send our servicemen and women off to war or conflict zones unless it is overwhelmingly justifiable and on moral high ground. The men of WWII were the greatest generation, perhaps Korea the forgotten, Vietnam the trampled, Cold War unsung and Iraqi Freedom and Afghanistan vets underestimated. Every generation has proved itself to be worthy to stand up to the precedent of the greatest generation. Going back to the Revolution American soldiers have been the best in the world. Let’s all take a remembrance for all veterans who served or are serving, peace time or wartime and gone or still with us. God Bless America and All Veterans.”  I remember their sacrifice.  George Patton added: “It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather we should thank God that such men lived.” That is why I honor Memorial Day.

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JC Bowman is the Executive Director of Professional Educators of Tennessee, a non-partisan teacher association headquartered in Nashville, Tennessee. Follow him on Twitter @jcbowman. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is hereby granted, provided that the author and the association are properly cited. 

School Shootings: No More Political Football

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Schools must be safe zones for students and teachers. That means the first step in school safety is securing the perimeter of a school. It seems like simple logic that we should keep intruders out and also make sure the area inside those boundaries is safe for children and adults. Students are our priority, but teachers need protection too.  Our School Safety Survey Results are here. 

Unfortunately, as we have seen far too frequently, our schools are easy targets for those who wish to harm others. When premeditated attacks and school shootings occur, they are usually over within minutes. Most of the time law enforcement is simply not able to respond quickly enough to the event and lives are needlessly lost.

Intruders, who wish to hurt our students and teachers, are usually very familiar with the schools’ defense system and create plans around that information. More than likely, the defense strategy is in the student handbook posted online. These people know when to attack, where to go and often how to escape. Students and teachers alike, as well as approved visitors should have a visible identification badge on them at all times. There needs to be secure exterior doors to limit building access points, and each district should develop a uniform policy for entry into a school.

Former Metro Nashville Principal Bill Gemmill, pointed out: “All schools need upgraded security, whether it is as simple and reasonable as inside locks on classroom doors.” It is also time to put metal detectors in every school across America. The federal government could absorb the cost by simply eliminating any of the already wasteful programs they are funding. Public school safety must be a priority at every level of government. If you see something, say something, and then someone in authority must do something.

The last line of defense that we can have for our kids is an armed person willing and ready to defend them if the unspeakable should happen. That is why it is critical that we look at expanding the School Resource Officer (SRO) program. This is a highly effective program that serves many purposes during the school year and is invaluable where it now exists. It is important that the program be directed by a local law-enforcement agency, working in conjunction with the local education agency. The school can employ and utilize additional security, but the primary responsibility should fall to local law enforcement.

The Center for Problem-Oriented Policing has outlined three basic roles of an SRO: Safety Expert and Law Enforcer, Problem Solver and Liaison to Community Resources and Educator. While all three are important functions, the primary role should focus on the law enforcement and safety component. SRO’s should be preserving order and promoting safety on campus and serving as first responders in the event of critical incidents at schools, such as accidents, fires, explosions, and other life-threatening events. They are not supplementary school administrators dealing with minor school discipline issues or emergency instructors. It is clear that we must better define SRO programs, what we want them to accomplish, and better analyze how we measure their effectiveness. Law Enforcement and School District Leaders should yield to the law enforcement professionals on matters of school safety and law enforcement.

It is time to discuss the gun issue. I strongly support the 2nd Amendment and have a handgun carry permit myself. We must have common sense approach to who, when, and where we can carry firearms, without infringing on the rights of law abiding citizens. We should raise the age for the purchase of certain guns to the age of 21, with exemption to active duty military. We prohibit drinking of alcoholic beverage until 21, we should follow suit here as well. Many young people just are not prepared for the responsibility of drinking or owning a firearm. We should make stronger background checks, considering factors such as criminal background and mental health. We should also prohibit bump stocks that can convert guns into automatic weapons. We should more aggressively punish those who commit crimes with guns. But we will need to be careful that the policy is reasonable.

Policymakers, at the state and federal level, are also likely to look at legislation that empowers individual school districts to determine for themselves what direction they want to take on school safety, including qualified, certified and licensed volunteer school personnel going armed in their building. If a district decides to allow trained and armed teachers and administrators into the schools, the decision should not be taken lightly. The state should never mandate educators having to carry firearms or prohibit them from carrying, if permitted by the district. It is a decision that should be made at the local level based on the needs and size of the community.

Certainly, armed teachers who possess training or a military background would deter some intruders. However, trained law enforcement personnel are much preferred and would be a much greater deterrent. Mike Conrad, a teacher in Detroit said in a recent interview: “I think that the moment that you put a gun on the hip of a teacher in a classroom, that we have accepted the norm that school shootings will not stop, that we are now on the front line to defend against them, instead of trying to find a way to stop them.” The subject is very emotional, with good arguments coming from either side of the debate, which is why each community must decide for themselves this issue.

School safety policies must be flexible and practical. However, the issue of improved school security will not be resolved in the current political environment, as long as real solutions are not considered based on a liberal or conservative bias. It is time to quit playing political volleyball with this issue. Real lives, those of children and adults, are at stake in our schools. The time of talking is past; it is time to take action. Any viable option that can lead to a safer environment in our schools and communities should be on the table.

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JC Bowman is the Executive Director of Professional Educators of Tennessee, a non-partisan teacher association headquartered in Nashville, Tennessee. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is hereby granted, provided that the author and the association are properly cited. For more information on this subject or any education issue please contact Professional Educators of Tennessee. To schedule an interview please contact Audrey Shores, Director of Communications, at 1-800-471-4867 ext.102.

This article also appeared at:  http://www.proedtn.org/news/388542/No-More-Political-Volleyball.htm

The School Safety Survey Results are Found here:  http://www.proedtn.org/news/395676/Tennessee-School-Safety-Survey-Results.htm

The Edge of Chaos

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The edge of chaos is a space between order and disorder.  For some, creativity is often found at the edge of chaos. In 2009, neuroscientists stated that evidence is emerging which suggests that operating at the edge of chaos may drive our brain’s astonishing capabilities. In fact, our complex brains may thrive on the chaotic.  In human terms, that may mean a dislike of rules and rigidity and formality, as well as a penchant for not following established rules.

Many people are most creative when their mind is most chaotic. However, a state of chaos is not sustainable and can certainly have negative effects. Albert Einstein, a genius by most accounts, said, “The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination.”

In A Journey into Chaos: Creativity and the Unconscious, Dr. Nancy C. Andreasen, states that the “capacity to be creative, to produce new concepts, ideas, inventions, objects or art, is perhaps the most important attribute of the human brain.”  She then points out: “Understanding how creative ideas arise from the brain is one of the most fascinating challenges of contemporary neuroscience.”

Is there a relationship between creativity and high intelligence?  Andreasen states that there is “a common assumption is that creativity and high intelligence are the same thing.”  This is, as she points out “a misconception.” Andreasen also studied the relationship between creativity and mental illness, which had inconclusive results because of limited participants.   It is clear consciousness, the unconscious and creativity are all important facets of the human mind.

In 1985, Robert Sternberg put forward his Triarchic Theory of Intelligence, contending that previous definitions of intelligence are too narrow because they are based solely on intelligences that can be assessed in IQ tests. Instead, Sternberg believes types of intelligence are broken down into three subsets: analytic, creative, and practical.

Mogbel Alenizi, a lecturer at Qassim University in Saudi Arabia wrote: “The field of creativity is a broad one, with definitions varying in and between countries and no consensus on how best to test for creativity or measure development.”  He added: “However, agreement is emerging that creativity is complex and the investment theory that suggests a combination of factors contribute to creativity (intellectual abilities, knowledge, styles of thinking, personality, motivation and environment).”  Certainly, genetics could factor in that equation at some level.

The wide range of approaches to creativity—from psychoanalytic, to psychological, to neurobiological—generally reveals the diversity of the field, but has led some to describe it as “a degenerating research program,” as Mark Batey, a senior lecturer in organizational psychology at the University of Manchester, wrote in his article on measuring creativity.

There are also global differences on our conceptions of creativity.  Research has tended to focus more on the person and the process than on the outcome or the social context in which the creativity occurs.  Which opens up a whole field for educators and researchers that may want to reach their creative students, in which formal education or standardized test fail to accurately depict.  It especially difficult, when creativity can be hard to identify and even more difficult to measure.

Education expert Sir Ken Robinson notes that in the factories of the 20th century, creativity was not valued. However, he points out it’s critical for success in the 21st Century.  Our school system, despite its imperfections has still produced students who have enabled America to lead in innovation around the globe.  The number of patents and innovations are one testament to our success, despite an education system that often limits creativity.  This has led to a tug of war between proponents of STEM education (science, technology, engineering, and math) and advocates for STEAM lessons, which add art to the mix.  We should welcome that debate.

So, we must ask ourselves:  Are our schools, which seem so accountability driven, measured by standardized tests reaching all students?  Are we stifling creativity in our schools?  What does success even look like in each school? Each community?  Each state?  Perhaps, we need more creativity, and use of our own imagination to address those issues?  Possibly we need to re-think many factors in how we measure success in public education?  Sometimes, through examination, we may find that in order, a little disorder is good.  Welcome to the Edge of Chaos.

What do you think? 

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JC Bowman is the Executive Director of Professional Educators of Tennessee, a non-partisan teacher association headquartered in Nashville, Tennessee. 

Overcoming Poverty in Education

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State Representative Harold Love recently shared one of the most inconceivable statistics in Tennessee.  The Nashville zip code 37208 has the highest percentage of incarceration in the nation, according to a Brookings Institution analysis.  The school to prison pipeline is unquestionable.   A child cannot succeed in life if they are denied the opportunities of a quality education. Lack of opportunity and quality education establishes the pathway to incarceration. Education remains the key to escaping poverty, even as poverty remains the biggest obstacle to education.

Tennessee has a richness of poverty.  According to the Southern Education Foundation, over 50 percent of the nation’s children are in poverty. Poverty is a vast and complex issue that plagues communities in a seemingly endless cycle. Accompanying poverty is its sidekick, hunger.  According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), 15.3 million children under 18 in the United States live in households where they are unable to consistently access enough nutritious food necessary for a healthy life. These 8 states have statistically higher food insecurity rates than the US national average (14.6%): Arkansas (21.2%), Mississippi (21.1%), Texas (18.0%), Tennessee (17.4%), North Carolina (17.3%), Missouri (16.9%), Georgia (16.6%), and Ohio (16.0%). More than 1 in 5 children is at risk of hunger. Among African-Americans and Latinos, it’s 1 in 3 according to the USDA.

Carlos Lee, a PhD student at LSU wrote: “Students who live in poverty come to school every day without the proper tools for success. As a result, they are commonly behind their classmates physically, socially, emotionally or cognitively.”  According to Eric Jensen at the Center for New York City Affairs, high-poverty schools are more likely to struggle with school climate concerns such as absenteeism and truancy, bullying, and trust and engagement issues that can weaken the learning environment. The road is to prison may arise out of the home, but it also veers through our school systems.  Poverty puts too many students at a disadvantage before they even step foot in a classroom.

Distinguished educator Paul Reville, and Harvard University, launched the Education Redesign Lab to pilot a revolutionary approach to create a new, more comprehensive education model better designed to close achievement gaps and provide each and every child the support and opportunities they need to be prepared for success. Nashville or Memphis should also look at this approach.

The theory of the Harvard Education Redesign Lab is putting forth to overcome widespread inequity in child development and education support is that “we must dramatically redesign, align, and integrate our systems of child development and education.”  They also believe we must start in early childhood to “tailor instruction to meet each child’s needs, while braiding health and social services with schools, and providing access for all to high-quality expanded learning and enrichment opportunities.”  This, they argue, gives all children a “much fairer chance of succeeding in education and in life.”

I am mindful that the counter argument is that we do not want the state to raise our children.  It grows dependence upon government.  This is true.  And I think we can put safeguards in place to easily prevent that from happening.  However, I also believe that all children are created in the image of God.  It is far more economical to educate a child, than it is to incarcerate an adult  That is why it is important to have private enterprise invest in this effort, not only with their money, but also their human capital. Leaders across our state need to make this a priority.

Our answer cannot be scores on a standardized test.  Studies from the American Psychological Association reveal the psychological effects of hunger on education. Hunger is known to cause depression, anxiety and withdrawal, all of which are obstructions to a child trying to focus on education. Our solution must be to prepare every child for success.  Perhaps we need to redefine what success looks like for those impacted by poverty?  We can, and we must, address these momentous challenges.

Just to recap:  Nashville zip code 37208 has the highest percentage of incarceration in the nation.  Tennessee students are some of the poorest in the nation.  We have the 4th highest food insecurity rate in the United States.  There is no better time for changing the trajectory for children than now.  We already know where those consequences lead.

Numerous philanthropic organizations have supported public education over the years, using their private dollars with public dollars to meet the needs of impoverished youth.  Tennessee has numerous organizations, from the Hyde Family Foundation in West Tennessee to the Frist Foundation in Middle Tennessee to the Niswonger Foundation in East Tennessee which could lead this type of effort.  It might even be something SCORE, the State Collaborative on Reforming Education could make their focus and mission.  Nashville is in their backyard.  We would be glad to assist.

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JC Bowman is the Executive Director of Professional Educators of Tennessee, a non-partisan teacher association headquartered in Nashville, Tennessee.  Permission to reprint in whole or in part is hereby granted, provided that the author and the association are properly cited. For more information on this subject or any education issue please contact Professional Educators of Tennessee.

School Safety and Security Event Today

JC Bowman will be joining  Sheriff Jim Hammond and other leaders in Hamilton County to discuss School Safety and Security.  Event is open to the public.  Info: https://atomic-temporary-137731796.wpcomstaging.com/2018/04/13/school-safety-and-security-town-hall/

JC's Blurb 3

School Safety and Security Town Hall

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A School Safety and Security Town Hall open to the public will be held Monday at East Hamilton Middle High School to continue a day focused on school safety in Hamilton County.

Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Hammond and Professional Educators of Tennessee are partnering to stage the Town Hall, which will take place 4 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. Monday, April 16, at the school complex in Ooltewah.

In addition to Sheriff Hammond, Chattanooga Police Chief David Roddy, Hamilton County Schools Superintendent Dr. Bryan Johnson, National School Security Expert Michael Yorio, and Dr. J.C. Bowman, Executive Director of Professional Educators of Tennessee, will serve as panelists. Businessman and radio host Weston Wamp will facilitate the Town Hall.

“The Town Hall will give parents, teachers and other stakeholders in public education the chance to offer their views on school safety,” said Sheriff Hammond. “Also, we will be able to share information about the Monday morning discussion with elected and community leaders.”

Dr. Bowman said teachers from counties surrounding Hamilton County will be informed of the timely event. He will also discuss research on school safety which the Professional Educators of Tennessee has completed with its membership.

“We are grateful to join with Sheriff Hammond and other strong leaders in Hamilton County to have timely, orderly discussion about an issue front and center in Hamilton County, the state and the nation,” said Dr. Bowman. “This is a wonderful opportunity for teachers, including our members in Southeast Tennessee.”

Yorio serves as president of SSI Guardian, LLC, and is senior vice president of security for School Specialty, Inc. As he will do in the morning meeting with area leaders, Yorio will bring a national perspective on school safety.

Wamp said the event will be recorded and made available to Professional Educators of Tennessee’s 8,000 members and others. Wamp, a Chattanooga businessman, will facilitate the forum. After brief opening remarks, questions will begin. Partisan, political speech will be stopped from stage, and Wamp urges attendees attending to have prepared, concise questions. Questions will end promptly at 5:30. The theater at East Hamilton has an estimated seating capacity of 300.

About Sheriff Jim Hammond: Sheriff Jim Hammond is the current Sheriff of Hamilton County and has been since August of 2008. His Sheriff’s office personnel consist of 386 full-time and 33 part-time employees. His area of coverage is Hamilton County, which is the fourth largest county in the state of Tennessee. As a Constitutional Elected Official of the State of Tennessee, Sheriff Hammond brings over 54 years of law enforcement experience to his credit, including 15 Years as Chief Deputy. He is also a veteran of the US Navy, an international police instructor, and former adjunct instructor for the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

About Professional Educators of Tennessee: Professional Educators of Tennessee is a non-partisan statewide professional association whose members come from all aspects of the educational systems in Tennessee. Their 8,000 statewide members include teachers, administrators and non-certified staff from kindergarten to graduate school level, public and private.

About Michael Yorio and SSI Guardian: National School Security Expert Michael A. Yorio is a former defense industry executive who is credited with founding SSI Guardian, the nation’s leading school safety and security firm and wholly owned subsidiary of School Specialty Inc. He has led the 21st Century Safe School initiative addressing institutional safety from an evidence based best practice approach focusing on the social, emotional, mental and physical factors.

About Weston Wamp: Weston Wamp has worked to promote best-practice guidelines for school safety across the country for two years, and he is currently involved in an effort of a national, non-profit organization that will address gaps in modernizing security in 21st century classrooms. He has hosted “The Pitch” on ESPN Chattanooga (105.1 FM) each Saturday morning for the past two years.

East Hamilton Middle High School is a public high school located in Ooltewah, Tennessee. Established and opened in 2009, it is one of the newest schools in the Hamilton County School district.

Address: 2015 Ooltewah Ringgold Rd, Ooltewah, TN 37363
PrincipalGail Chuy

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JC Bowman is the Executive Director of Professional Educators of Tennessee, a non-partisan teacher association headquartered in Nashville, Tennessee. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is hereby granted, provided that the author and the association are properly cited. For more information on this subject or any education issue please contact Professional Educators of Tennessee. To schedule an interview please contact Audrey Shores, Director of Communications, at 1-800-471-4867 ext.102.

JC's Twitter Post 2

Low Morale & Burnout

prof classe 05Passion and energy within any organization or company starts at the top with the leadership.   The moment when an employee begins to feel unappreciated is when morale begins to suffer.  Lack of respect and lack of support are often cited as reasons why people leave their jobs.  Other reasons include excessive workload, concerns about management, anxiety about the future, especially job security, income and retirement security, lack of recognition, continuous change and compensation that does not align with exceptional performance.  Anxiety and anger are key ingredients of low morale.

A decade ago, the Gallup Organization estimated that disengaged employees cost the economy as much as $350 billion dollars per year in lost productivity including absenteeism, illness and other low morale issues.  An alarming 70% of American workers are not showing up to work committed to delivering their best performance, and this has serious implications for the bottom line of individual companies and the U.S. economy as a whole.  Of the 70% of American workers who are not reaching their full potential, 52% are not engaged, and another 18% are actively disengaged. These employees are emotionally disconnected from their companies and may actually be working against their employers’ interests. They are less productive, are more likely to steal from their companies, negatively influence their coworkers, miss workdays, and drive customers away.

Psychology Today reports that burnout is not a simple result of long hours. The cynicism, depression, and lethargy of burnout can occur when you’re not in control of how you carry out your job, when you’re working toward goals that don’t resonate with you, and when you lack social support. If you don’t tailor your responsibilities to match your true calling, or at least take a break once in a while, you could face a mountain of mental and physical health problems.

In public education, we see low morale often mentioned in criticism of the job.  This reveals that administrators have a lot of work to do in addressing low morale and burnout with their teachers.  If successful in improving morale, leadership will see higher productivity, better retention, reduction in stress, and an improved workplace for all.  In education, the workplace is where children learn.  Having contented and energized employees who are willing to go the extra mile for students and the school district would be key to having an effective learning environment.  In education, like any organization, people are the most critical resource.

In order to avoid low morale or burnout, leaders must effectively communicate their vision.   Employees must not only understand, they must buy into that vision which will help determine how an employee feels about their work and work environment.  A 2010 Canadian survey mentioned that the most effective staff morale boosting behaviors of managers are to 1) talk less and listen more; 2) give clear expectations; 3) have more informal interaction with staff; 4) assign tasks to staff based on skills rather than office politics; 5) give more rights to staff; (e.g., give staff more opportunities to make a decision for certain tasks) and 6) to respect people with greater expertise. Lastly, an important way to understand the current employee morale climate is by administering culture or climate surveys regularly.  People must feel a sense of attachment to their work, only then will they care about their performance.

These are complex issues and intertwined with various contributing factors. Just as there is no lone factor that explains low morale or burnout, addressing it will require a combination of solutions, and require a substantial amount of time and effort.  Leaders must remain attentive to the signs of low morale and burnout.  Only by focusing on creating an environment that allows employees to perform up to their skills and potential can an organization or company hope to avert low morale and burnout.

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JC Bowman is the Executive Director of Professional Educators of Tennessee, a non-partisan teacher association headquartered in Nashville, Tennessee. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is hereby granted, provided that the author and the association are properly cited. For more information on this subject or any education issue please contact Professional Educators of Tennessee. To schedule an interview please contact Audrey Shores, Director of Communications, at 1-800-471-4867 ext.102.

I Don’t Like Mondays

Research records the very first school shooting incident in the United States occurred in Greencastle, Pennsylvania at Enoch Brown School in 1764. The first school shooting I can recall was carried out by Brenda Ann Spencer in 1979. Spencer killed two and wounded eight at Grover Cleveland Elementary School in San Diego, California. When asked by a reporter why she shot at the school, she heartlessly replied “I don’t like Mondays.” The Boomtown Rats popularized that phrase into a song. Most people probably never knew the background.

We, as a society, romanticize depression, violence and death on social media and in video games. Then politicians and talking heads on television and radio pontificate on issues that many really do not understand and are unwilling to confront. Unfortunately, we live in a culture which devalues life where we become fascinated by one event and we do not see the long-term effect. We are then free to move on, leaving families and communities in real pain still struggling for real answers.

We have to bravely confront mental health issues. Social media in particular has gone from support of people who are clinically depressed to glamorizing the ideas of sadness. Samara Khan writing in Ethos News points out that “depression is a very real, and often very debilitating mental illness that starkly contrasts with the pretty pastel photos on social media.” Dr. Mark Reinecke, chief psychologist at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, told The Atlantic: “During the vulnerable years during which adolescents seek out self-affirmation and recognition from others, this new, easy promise of being recognized as strong, beautiful, and mysterious…can be very tempting.” Reinecke concludes “Too often, it just leads to more teenagers believing and feeling they are depressed, self-pitying, self-harming.”

Sheriff Scott Israel, of Broward County, Florida is pleading with lawmakers to give police and doctors more power to involuntarily hospitalize people for psychiatric evaluation over violent and threatening social media posts. However, the reality is many mental health professionals cannot even get a person with active psychosis and suicidal ideation hospitalized. Our current health care situation forces hospitals to turn people away because they are over-crowded, understaffed, underfunded, and have no authority to keep anyone anymore. We need to strengthen our laws and focus on mental health. In addition, more guidance counselors in schools and increased professional development for all teachers to help identify problem students should be considered.

The majority of school shootings are done by males. Researchers seemingly cannot understand why this occurs. We don’t dare address the topic of the psychological castration of the modern male or to combat what the academic world calls “toxic masculinity.” Author and philosopher Christina Hoff Sommers has repeatedly challenged the issue for nearly two decades. Sommers noted a Bureau of Justice Statistics report on the decline in violence at schools, is at a historic low. She observed “that while violence may be built into the core of a small coterie of sociopathic boys, most boys are not sociopathic. As far back as 1965 Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan called attention to the social dangers of raising boys without benefit of a paternal presence. He wrote in a 1965 study for the Labor Department, “A community that allows a large number of young men to grow up in broken families, dominated by women, never acquiring any stable relationship to male authority, never acquiring any rational expectations about the future—that community asks for and gets chaos.”

Alexa Curtis wrote in Rolling Stone: For teens who “are battling mental health issues, witnessing the end of a life” as easily as television portrayed it “could help desensitize kids to this very serious matter.” She then adds: “There will always be people who feel like they have no one to talk to, and those are the people most at risk whom we have to figure out how to reach.” Who can children talk to when they have the urge to hurt themselves or others? If the answer is nobody, then more teenagers taking their lives and the lives of others will only continue. Chances are they don’t like Mondays, they probably won’t like any other day of the week either.

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JC Bowman is the Executive Director of Professional Educators of Tennessee. Professional Educators of Tennessee is a non-partisan teacher association headquartered in Nashville, Tennessee. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is hereby granted, provided that the author and the association are properly cited.