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School of Hard Knocks

More horror stories today: lawsuits initiated by parents with plenty of assertiveness and no sense of perspective. Little Jimmy didn’t get an “A” on his geometry mid-term, which will keep him out of Harvard, which will mean he won’t become president, so I want twenty million dollars. Also horror stories about psycho teachers who decide little Jimmy is going to hell because he’s Hindu, so he should get a failing grade on every class assignment. We’ll get to read more about the details as part of our own class assignment.

We’re not supposed to focus on the right or wrong of the scenarios. The moral issues are about 90% settled anyway for anyone who isn’t bat-shit crazy, anyway, the uncertain 10% lying in the realm of precisely where the happy medium lies between complete lack of accountability and leaving teachers in fear of their jobs for the tiniest mis-step, and that’s a policy issue for administrators and politicians, not tomorrow’s teachers. No, we’re supposed to concentrate on the unhappy realities of the situation, such as the massive expense of fending off Crazy Dad and his $20M lawsuit and what that does to the rest of the school district, or the chance that little Jimmy is wound wayyyy too tight and jumps off a bridge when his GPA drops to 3.85, or just how much damage a certifiable loon can do to a classroom before finally being dismissed.

There’s two messages here. First: education law is written all too often to fit the left-field cases and not the functional majority. Second: teachers should be afraid of everything, all the time. Neither message is conducive to good education. But what can you do when you also need safeguards against cases like these?

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