Our hearts and thoughts go out to those who have been affected by the tragedy yesterday at Prince Middle School, part of the Atlanta Public Schools. But for those of us who follow public education closely, it is not news to learn that some students come to school with substantial difficulties – whether medical problems or difficult home lives. In short, the tragedy that happened yesterday is also a symptom of larger problems that constantly trouble public education.
Solving these types of problems is hard, and cannot be done solely through the school system. I wish I knew what could be done to prevent these shooting incidents in the future, from keeping kids from getting access to guns to a better mental health safety net to helping people generally to deal with difficult circumstances in their lives. If I know one thing, it is that society does not truly know how to address these types of problems, because we would already be doing what was needed if we knew what that was.
I hope that psychologists, sociologists, and other experts are studying this issue and come up with good solutions soon, because every dollar we mistakenly spend on some intervention that is not working is a dollar that we could have used to make our education system better.