By Mark Naison (February 16, 2018)
The way I see it, this country is on a suicide path.
First of all, the people shaping education policy in this country, during the last twenty years, have done everything possible to create more wounded children like Nikolaus Cruz;
They have deluged schools with standardized tests that squeeze every ounce of joy out of classrooms;
To pay for the tests, they have cut back on counseling, libraries, the arts, sports, physical education, all activities where young people in trouble can find refuge or a place to express themselves;
They have deprived more and more students of meaningful social interaction, either with teachers, or one another, by having them sit in front of computers all day;
They have adopted zero-tolerance disciplinary policies and throw out students who cannot adopt to the test and punish regimes that dominate more and more schools.
The result: more and more students who have emotional issues or learning disabilities who are given little support, little mentoring, and few outlets for their emotions or talents, and are pushed out or pushed aside.
And then, if they are angry, what is there to greet them?
Easy access to drugs.
Easy access to guns, including assault weapons.
We are creating an army of outcasts and then arming them to the teeth. And unless we do something about both issues–a rigid, test driven education system, and easy access to guns–we are going to see more and more acts of terrifying violence in our schools and communities.