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Violence in the Classroom / Remember the Giants

Written by Rich Copeland - Producer, WITF's Smart Talk | Dec 8, 2017 10:00 AM
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1924 Harrisburg Giants

On the Monday Decemebr 11th, 2017 edition of WITF's Smart Talk:

During a November meeting of the Harrisburg School District Board, teachers from the district asked the board for help dealing with increasing violence in the classroom.  Between July and October of this year, forty-five teachers have retired from the Harrisburg School District; Harrisburg Education Association president Jody Barksdale says more have resigned since October.

"I have been kicked, punched, hit, scratched. I've had a student physically restraining me in front of my other students," pleaded first grade teacher Amanda Schaeffer.  "Many of the personal things that I have bought for my classroom have been broken or destroyed."

The level of violence has become an ever-present distraction for teachers.  "Many minutes are spent each day dealing with violence that is happening in the classroom," said Schaeffer.  "How am I meeting my students' needs with this behavior happening? How am I supposed to have a safe, nurturing learning environment when this behavior happens?"

The education association has asked for the formation of a taskforce that would include administrators, teachers and parents to address the causes and solutions to the violence.  Harrisburg District Superintendent Sybil Knight-Burney acknowledged the problem and asked for time to address the issue, saying "Unfortunately, some of these things take time.  They take time for training; they take time for investigation, and making sure that we are doing the right thing for our students."

On the Monday edition of WITF's Smart Talk, we talk with Barksdale about the concerns of teachers in Harrisburg classrooms and discuss solutions with Knight-Burney, Jaime Foster, HSD's Chief Academic Officer and Chanda Telleen, Nationally Certified School Psychologist and Educational Consultant through the CAIU Supporting PA's Behavior Initiative, Fulling the Role of District Director of Multi-Tiered Systems of Support.


Harrisburg District Superintendent Sybil Knight-Burney / Jaimie C. Foster - HSD Chief Academic Officer

Also, the Giants represented Harrisburg in the Eastern Colored League, a baseball league for black players who were barred from participating in Major League Baseball until 1947.  These "Negro Leagues" were notable for both the extraordinary talent of their players as well as the disgraceful reminder of the deep institutionalization of segregation and racism in America during the era.giants 3.png

1954 Harrisburg Giants

The team got its start in 1922; by the 50's, league desegregation caused the Negro leagues to disband.  In 1954, the Harrisburg Giants became the first Eastern Negro League team to integrate white players on their team.  Messiah College alum Scott Orris, Kyle Kull and Jonathan Barry Wolf capture the story of the team in their documentary, "There Were Giants" and director Orris joins Monday's Smart Talk to share the tale of Harrisburg's Giants.

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Scott Orris


- Despite all of the teachers and the govt's best efforts, how on Earth can they compensate for a lack of 2 parent discipline at home?   It seems that the guest has spent the bulk of the conversation trying to figure out how to make up for parental neglect, fatherlessness and/or bad parenting.   How do you compensate for 73% fatherlessness?                 - Mihed

- Isn't it obvious that teachers are doing more and more parenting because children are getting less and less of it?

What programs does the school district provide to improve student behavior that include parents?

What do you do if parents don't participate?

If parents don't participate, what are the chances that the student will improve and how do you keep these students from bringing the general education level down?                                                             - Fred

Talking about support (or lack of) from one's principal...

This is one situation of many in which I experienced as a teacher.

I found myself in the principal's office with an unruly child to discuss the incident.  When the principal asked for the student to give his version of the incident, he turned towards me yelling, "You're an f-in' bitch."

At that the principal said nothing to him in correction.  She smiled at me and asked me to step outside her office.  I had no chance to share my version of the incident with the student present.  She spent the next 1/2 hour talking with the student, dismissed him, and asked me to enter her office.  He walked past me with a satisfied smirk on his face.

She told me that obviously I caused the incident in the classroom and that the student was justified in voicing his opinion of me.  

It was a situation where my principal did not support her staff.  The students rule the school.

You have programs on abuse of women in the workplace, usually from their peers or supervisors.  I have worked in schools where the abuse comes from the male students over which I am responsible for their safety because they are minors.  There's no consideration for my safety from abuse in that situation.                                                                                  - Brenda, Elizabethtown

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