Saturday, July 19, 2008

Kids deserve the choice to 'get away from it'

Two stories on the front page of the state's largest newspaper today help to explain why so many parents have lost confidence in Oklahoma's public schools.

In one story ('Providing direction for youths at risk'), The Oklahoman reports that
Miles recently graduated high school and McPherson and Ray go to different schools. All three said gangs, drugs and violence are problems at school.

Out of school "you know the areas to stay away from," McPherson said. "But at school, everything is so compact, you can't get away from it."

"This kid brought a Hefty bag to school of drugs, and he was just handing them out," Ray said. "You want to tell, but you look around and see all the gang members and you don't."

Another front-page story informs us that a former Harrah Junior High School librarian is accused of having sex with a 15-year-old student.

The resulting investigation led Detective Dawn Davis to conclude [the librarian], a married mother of two, is a "promiscuous woman (who) seems to befriend the young men of her church and school," according to her affidavit. [She] groomed a handful of students by getting them out of class early and buying them things, Davis wrote. She regularly communicated with them in text messages and on, Davis wrote. Investigators looked into reports [she] had sex with at least five other students and one former student, but none of them confirmed any inappropriate contact with her, the detective's affidavit states.

You may recall that a recent analysis by the Associated Press found that "sexual conduct plagues U.S. schools" and suggests that sexual misconduct among male schoolteachers is at least as common as among male priests. A 2004 U.S. Department of Education study found that one in 10 public school students is sexually harassed or abused by a teacher or other school employee at some point between kindergarten and 12th grade.

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