Alternative thinking about student discipline in schools

Schools across the country, and California as well, are rethinking school discipline in an effort to reduce suspensions for black students, both through restorative justice programs and policy changes focused on keeping unruly students in school.

Supporters of the new approach have pointed to evidence in suspension data in calls on U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to continue policies designed to reduce the racial discipline gap, while others are outlining nuances in discipline data to understand contributing factors, The 74 Million reports.

“So much of the debate centers on whether schools are being too dismissive or overly punitive, and factors like school structure, which data show correlates to suspension rates, tends to get overlooked,” Tom Loveless, an education policy researcher for the Bookings Institution, told the education site.

Loveless published a report in 2017 on out -of-school suspensions in California schools that examined trends between 2012 and 2015. The study focused on students in schools with more than 50 students, and excluded data from alternative schools, juvenile delinquent facilities and those serving students with disabilities.

According to The 74, Loveless found:

–        Among schools that suspend a disproportionate number of black students, school size tends to correlate with suspension rates. The rates of suspensions for black students went up as school size increased.

–        Suspension rates for black students tend to peak in middle school and then fall in high school.

–        Black students are more likely to be suspended when they attend segregated or “racially isolated” schools than when they attend majority-white or mixed-race schools.

Loveless and other education experts are only starting to understand what the trends mean, but it’s obvious that the structure of schools have an impact on outcomes.

“Loveless’s research suggests there are factors within school districts’ control that impact suspension rates but have little to do with actual discipline policies,” the education site reports. “One factor is school size, particularly middle schools. Loveless noted that school size could be adjusted by reassigning students to different schools or building new ones.”

Another factor that’s less researched is students’ character formation.

James Davison Hunter, founder of the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture, highlighted the critically important role schools play in shaping the morality and character of students in his book “The Tragedy of Moral Education in America.”

“The components of morality are expressed in a community’s institutions, including its moral rules,” Hunter wrote. “When it functions well, our moral culture binds us, compels us, in ways of which we are not fully aware.”

Schools with a strong moral culture compel students to show kindness and compassion for their classmates, teachers and others, which reduces disciplinary problems.

The Community School for Social Justice and others are working to create that kind of atmosphere with restorative justice practices, such as fairness committees in lieu of suspensions.  However, restorative justice does not the offender off the hook.

“The Fairness Committee of The Community School for Social Justice is a restorative justice model of school discipline. This mode enforces positive conflict resolution, emphasizing on the violation of community norms established by all members of the school community,” according to the school website. “Fairness Committee seeks to encourage dialogue amongst community members in order to come to reach a consensus on appropriate consequences for those violations rather than handing out punishments.”

WI student’s simple act of kindness pays off for cancer-fighting nonprofit

Wisconsin’s Waylon Klitzman was unhappy to learn his favorite teacher at Evansville High School was leaving the profession to dedicate her time to Beat Nb, a nonprofit working to cure neuroblastoma.

The teacher, Kim Katzenmeyer, announced the decision this spring after her niece was diagnosed with the disease just days before her fourth birthday.

Initially, Klitzman offered “Miss K” all the money he had – $52 – to change her mind and remain in the classroom. But when that didn’t work he concocted another plan to raise money for Beat Nb that ultimately took in more than $10,000 for the cause in just one hour.

The Washington Post reports:

The day after Katzenmeyer announced her departure, Klitzman marched in and laid $52 in cash in her hands. It was all he had left from his purchase of two pigs earlier that spring. Klitzman had bought the pigs as part of his involvement with the Evansville chapter of 4-H, a national youth organization that teaches leadership in part through agricultural work.

He originally planned to sell the pigs for meat — and for a profit — at the county fair in July.

Klitzman hoped his money, offered as a donation to Beat Nb, would be enough to induce Katzenmeyer to stay. She was touched, but it didn’t change her mind.

Klitzman, though, wasn’t done. He lost a teacher, but he found a cause.

He also had a plan: sell Roo – the 265-pound pig he spent months raising for the fair – and donate the proceeds to Beat Nb. He reached out to several potential buyers to explain the situation in hopes of driving up the price from the typical $3 to $5 per pound, but the response was not exactly what he expected.

“When the bidding kicked off, the price jumped to $11 – but then one of the bidders, Dan Drozdowicz, had an idea and struck a deal with his competition,” the Good News Network reports. “He won the bidding on the pig – then he donated it back to be auctioned again. The second bidder bought it for $10 a pound – then he gave it back, too.

“Finally, a third competitor, Dave Moll, was free to buy – then, he, too, unexpectedly donated the pig back – for a third time,” according to the site.

“I had … no intention of spending that much money or giving the pig back,” said Moll, who owns the construction company that employs Klitzman’s father. “But that’s what the people ahead of me did, and I felt like it was the right thing to do, so I did.”

Roo was bought a fourth time by a pork producer for $5.50 per pound, bringing in a total raised for Beat Nb to $10,070.

“I did not see that happening,” Klitzman told the Post. “Usually, they just sell it once! My dream got bigger and bigger every time they said, ‘Give it back.’”

Miss K, of course, was more than grateful for his efforts.

“I am bursting, my heart is bursting with pride for him,” she said. “He doesn’t know the impact that he is having … Someday he will.”

James Davison Hunter, founder of the Institute of Advanced Studies in Culture, highlighted the importance of practicing kindness to develop strong character in his book “The Death of Character.”

“It is through experience that students participate in moral community and practice moral action,” Hunter wrote. “Experience is always a precursor to the possession of character and practical wisdom.”

The website offers a variety of ways both kids and adults can practice kindness in their everyday lives, from “Ideas for your first act,” to “Summer kind act ideas” and ways to “Carry out a random act of kindness.”

The site also offers ideas for “Digital acts of kindness” to help “cultivate a kinder world online.”



Local police, educators come together to tackle gangs, drugs, and other problems plaguing schools

Educators and law enforcement are coming together in Carroll County, Maryland to tackle big issues in schools, from family traumas that spill into the classroom to gang activity, drug use, and sex abuse.

The Carroll County State’s Attorney’s Office recently hosted a Safe Schools Training day in late July to bring together teachers, administrators, local sheriff’s officials and the Westminster Police Department to work together on tackling the community’s most pressing issues, the Carroll County Times reports.

Carroll County State’s Attorney Brian DeLeonardo and district superintendent of school counseling Judy Klinger presented a new program called “Handle with Care,” which allows first responders to contact school officials about students who have experienced traumatic events, such as a drug overdose in their home, or domestic violence.

The communication allows school officials to keep a closer eye on those students, and to better understand why they may act out or struggle with academics and and then to intervene to provide support and service.

“I know it’s another thing for law enforcement to do, but its a pretty simple thing and it helps all of us help kids and families,” Klinger said.

“It gives us another level to intervene with the children. … If we know that child is getting some services and help, it helps prevent a future problem,” DeLeonardo added.

Local police also educated teachers about gang activity they may see in the classroom, including gang graffiti, signs of recruitment, and other behavior that may signal a student is steeped in that lifestyle.

Senior Assistant State’s Attorney Courtney Colonese asked educators to contact law enforcement when they come across red flags, and offered insight into how it might impact students at school.

“You may not see (gang activity) in terms of the way law enforcement may see some of this, but you may find out people living in the children’s home are members,” DeLeonardo said. “And you may see that influence in that child.”

The Safe Schools Training also featured updates about in new kinds of drug use, the potential impact of marijuana legalization, and ways to spot and report sexually, physically, and emotionally abused students, the Times reports.

“What you see, what you know, what you learn is huge for us, so don’t take it for granted,” Sgt. Glenn Day told educators.

The collaboration between police and school officials is a critical component of what James Davison Hunter, founder of the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture, describes as the ideal environment for character education to flourish.

In “The Tragedy of Moral Education in American,” Hunter wrote:

Moral education can work where the community, and schools and other institutions within it, share a moral culture that is integrated and mutually reinforcing; where the social networks of adult authority are strong, unified, and consistent in articulating moral ideals and their attending virtues; and where adults maintain a ‘careful watchfulness’ over all aspects of a young person’s maturation.

More information about the Handle with Care behavior management system is available on the organization’s website, which offers trainings, webinars, a blog, and other resources for a wide variety of folks who work with youngsters.

“As national experts in the fields of verbal intervention and passive restraint, facilitating training for more than 1000 facilities Handle With Care has trained well over 100,000 practitioners working with adults and children in some of the most challenging environments in the United States, Puerto Rico, Canada and Europe,” according to the site.


Olympic gold medalist Alex Rigsby talks character with students in Classroom Champions program

Alex Rigsby, gold-medalist on the U.S. Women’s Olympic Hockey team, returned from the Olympic Games in PyeongChang, South Korea to a drastically different environment.

The 26-year-old spent her second year in the Classroom Champions program working as a mentor in four elementary classrooms, two in Alexandria, Virginia and two in Portland, Oregon, The 74 Million reports.

Rigsby discussed how the experience has made an impression on both her and the students, and what she hopes to accomplish through the mentorship.

The best part of the experience, she said, is “seeing the impact it has on children.

“It is so fun interacting with them and seeing the progress they are making throughout the year and the different challenges that they accept and meet from what I give them each month,” Rigsby told The 74.

“I was lucky to be able to see two classrooms of mine last year,” she added. “It was just so awesome to see all the kids and how excited they were, and see them look to me as a friend and get excited to work on their goals and perseverance and all the different types of things we talk about.”

Rigsby explained how sports or students’ other passions can help students develop habits and virtues for success at school and later in life.

“I think it is about setting goals for themselves. That is one of the biggest things we preach to them: It is about goal setting and chasing your dreams,” Rigsby said. “Sports are just such a great thing for any kid to have, and if they take it to a high level or not, they are going to be able to learn some lessons from it, and if they can take anything they learn and move forward with it, it is going to help them in their life.”

Researchers at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture at the University of Virginia emphasize and support efforts to help students overcome adversity as a critical component of effective character education, which extends to students’ mental state, home life, and after school community.

James Davison Hunter, sociologist and Institute founder, wrote in “The Tragedy of Moral Education in America”:

The form of character is one thing, but the substance of character always takes shape relative to the culture in which it is found.

The Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues takes a deeper look at the character virtues that drive student success and the role character education can play in helping students succeed in the report “Flourishing From the Margins.”

The project reviewed data on 3,250 students from a variety of backgrounds to “illuminate the vital practical work that tutors, youth workers, and community leaders do every day in supporting and guiding marginalised young people to build character and become moral, engaged, intelligent members of an increasingly complex and challenging society.”

“Flourishing From the Margins” also offers a suite of teaching resources for educators interested in forming character in students, as well as recommendations for schools working to develop a positive culture that values strong character and virtues.

District takes ‘trauma-informed’ approach to help students build resilience

Terry Dangerfield, superintendent for Michigan’s Lincoln Park Public Schools, is building “Resilient Schools” that teach students how to overcome trauma to succeed in academics and life.

“We partnered with Dr. Caelan Soma and the Starr Global Learning Network, national experts in trauma-informed and evidence based practices. The program that we developed together is deeply rooted in brain research,” Dangerfield wrote in a column for The News-Herald.

Dangerfield explained that childhood trauma – everything from losing a family member, to poverty, to family issues with domestic violence, drug abuse, or neglect – can have a profound impact on students’ health and overall performance in life.

“It is important we teach our students they don’t have to be defined by the traumatic events they have experienced and can redefine themselves,” he wrote. “Resilience and positive relationships can counteract the negative effects these experiences have had on their brains.”

The district launched a “Resilient Schools Project” this year to incorporate “trauma-informed strategies and cutting-edge brain research” into Lincoln Park’s mission to meet students’ social, emotional, health and academic needs.

“Another goal of the project is to prevent violence before it happens by proactively addressing potential problems,” Dangerfield wrote. “We are proud to report that in less than a year, we have seen considerable reductions in violent acts in school across all grade levels.”

Dangerfield argues the new approach represents an evolution of education from primarily an academic focus to a “whole student” perspective that takes into account life circumstances to help students become successful both in and out of school.

“We have completely shifted our culture and have seen a change in mindset among our staff,” Dangerfield wrote. “They now consider why a student is behaving a certain way, rather than simply focusing on the behavior they are displaying.”

Researchers with the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture have documented how a variety of different schools rely on adult examples, encouragement, and mentorship to help students develop strong character virtues like perseverance and resilience.

“The articulation of a moral culture through explicit teaching is important and, needless to say, variable. What these case studies also consistently show is the importance of the informal articulation of a moral culture through the example of teachers and other adults in the school community,” researchers cite  in “The Content of Their Character, a publication of the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture at the University of Virginia.

“The moral example of teachers unquestionably complemented the formal instruction students received, but arguably, it was far more poignant to, and influential upon, the students themselves.”

The Jubilee Centre for Character & Virtues offers a variety of resources for educators to help “young people on the margins of education.”

Flourishing From the Margins” is a project in the UK that uses a combined dataset of nearly 3,250 young people in a broad spectrum of academic settings to offer recommendations on best practices for character education, as well as teaching materials for educators to put the practices into action.



Principals fight ‘losing battle’ against negative influences of social media in schools

A new Education Week survey of principals across the United States shows many are struggling to control the negative impact of student social media use on the learning environment.

Principals report a growing number of social media sites – from Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram to lesser known sites like WhatsApp, Kik and LINE – are complicating the fickle social relationships of teens and causing a steady stream of disruptions in schools, including nude photo scandals, shooting threats and cyberbullying, among others.

Students’ social media use outside of school is at least a moderate concern of 79 percent of principals overall, while 78 percent of middle school principals are “extremely concerned” about the issue. At the same time, 38 percent of principals told the education site they’re unsure where to find strategies to help students use social media responsibly.

Only 14 percent of principals contend they’re “very prepared” to broach the subject, while 45 percent said they’re “somewhat prepared” and 32 report saying they’re “a little prepared.” Ten percent are “not prepared at all.”

The situation puts principals in the position of working to control the fallout of social media issues that spill into the school day with no clear guidelines to follow. Many also have a limited understanding of the social media sites facilitating the conflicts, experts told Education Week.

“I think our expectations of principals have become increasingly unreasonable,” Amanda Lenhart, deputy director for the Washington think tank Better Life Lab at New America, told the news site. “They’re fighting a losing battle.”

It’s a battle that’s waged in what the Institute of Advanced Studies in Culture at The University of Virginia calls a “moral ecology” that includes many factors beyond their control.

Institute researchers examined character formation in a variety of different schools and outlined their findings in “The Content of Their Character,” edited by James Davison Hunter and Ryan S. Olson.

“When social institutions – whether the family, peer relationships, youth organizations, the internet, religious congregations, entertainment, or popular culture – cluster together, they form a larger ecosystem of powerful cultural influences. None of these is morally neutral. Indeed, all social institutions rest upon distinctive ideals, beliefs, obligations, prohibitions, and commitments – many implicit and some explicit – and these are rooted in, and reinforced by, well-established social practices. Taken together, these form a ‘moral ecology,’” according to Hunter and Olson.

“Moral ecologies can vary by how coherent or incoherent they are, how thick or thin, how well-resourced or impoverished, how articulate or inarticulate, and the like. Character is invariably formed in these moral ecologies and is reflexive of them.”

The fact that school officials recognize the power of social media influences points to the importance of a moral ecology, yet many principals and parents feel powerless to control social media influences, likely because they’re rarely around when students navigate their virtual worlds.

The Virtue of Self-Mastery” and other lessons from the UK’s The Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues can help students learn to limit their own technology and social media use by prompting them to think through how it impacts their lives and others before it’s too late.

Love & Rigor Underlie Strong Culture and Character

A few days into our first year at Rocky Mountain Prep, I was walking through our office when one of our founding parents Sarah, pulled me aside. “You’ll never guess what my kindergartener told me over dinner last night,” Sarah shared. “We were halfway through dinner when she declared, ‘Mom, spinach isn’t my favorite, but I’m going to persevere.’ ”

Since that moment almost seven years ago, I am reminded daily of the power of our PEAK values – Perseverance, Excellence, Adventure, and Kindness – and the importance of supporting the character development of our students. Rocky Mountain Prep (RMP) is often recognized for our strong academic results: Our founding campus, RMP Creekside, was recently nominated as one of the three best elementary schools in the state as a Colorado Succeeds Prize finalist. For many of our parents, though, what they value the most about our program is our commitment to these PEAK values and how we encourage students to align their actions at school to both our community’s values and to their family’s and their personal values. This is one of the reasons our RMP: Southwest campus had the strongest parent satisfaction of any public school in Denver.

I’ve learned that two things help our PEAK values come to life for our scholars: leading with love and daily reflection.

Every great teacher I know builds a loving classroom culture to create what social science seems to rediscover all the time. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs demonstrates the basic importance of both safety and belonging. Recently, Google discovered that the highest performing teams have strong psychological safety amongst the team members.

At RMP, in order to meet these needs, our teachers lead with love. We honor each student by learning what makes them unique, what they love, their backgrounds and stories. We ensure that every adult in our building knows our scholars’ names, and gives a big smile, high-five, hug or handshake when they meet in the classroom or hallways. Leading with love also means we challenge our scholars. When you love somebody, you hold them to high expectations.

Within the loving, safe environment at our schools, we create frequent opportunities for our students to reflect on how their behaviors align to our PEAK values. For example, to begin and end each day, our scholars have a community circle in their classrooms where they reflect on how they lived out our values, and where they could have done better. Last week, I heard a scholar demonstrate this with one of his teammates, sharing, “McKiya showed a lot of stamina and perseverance during our math mystery work by not getting frustrated when we got stuck and trying a bunch of new strategies.”

In addition to its effect on our scholar’s lives, this culture of love and reflection has impacted me as school leader directly. Three years ago at one of our campuses, five minutes into breakfast, a second-grader went over to his teacher and whispered, “Phil [name changed] isn’t showing kindness or excellence this morning. He told me he brought a weapon to school in his lunchbox.” The teacher immediately searched his backpack, found a knife, and was able to diffuse a potential nightmare scenario for our community.

While I can’t ever know if that student intended to cause harm, I do know that our culture of love and reflection is integral to our students’ achievement and growth as good, moral people.

Missouri teen refocuses on character in high school to earn appointment to U.S. Air Force Academy

Republic High School senior Noah Johnson described himself as a lost “troublemaker” in middle school, but he’s transformed his character over the last five years to forge a different path.

“Before high school, I was not the best student. In eighth grade, I decided to turn my life around,” Johnson told the Springfield News-Leader. “I realized I had potential to do things, to go places, if I just tried. I came to the high school with the mindset that I needed to start fresh.”

This transformation began with a decision, was surrounded by encouragement, and focused on a goal. Noah is seen as stepping into a larger story and this is crucial for character development. James Davison Hunter, founder of the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture, writes in The Tragedy of Moral Education in America, “Implicit in the word character is a story. It is a story about living for a purpose that is greater than the self. Though this purpose resides deeply within, its origins are outside the self, and so it beckons one forward, channeling one’s passions to mostly quiet acts of devotion, heroism, sacrifice, and achievement.”

The Missouri teen joined the Republic High School Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC), and focused on his studies. His humble dedication earned him recognition as outstanding first-year cadet.

“After that, we knew the potential was there,” Lt. Col. Patrick Sanders, head of the Republic ROTC, told the news site.

“I’d give him a job to do as a sophomore and he’d need a little guidance. His junior year, he’d just do it. By the time he was a senior, he didn’t even need to be told,” Sanders said. “You name it, he’s grown in all the areas — maturity, leadership, behavior. It’s huge growth.”

Johnson’s grades improved, as well, and he earned a 32 out of 36 on his ACT. He also played snare in the marching band. When it came time to apply for colleges, he set his sights on the U.S. Air Force Academy, knowing only one in 12 applicants receive an appointment, and even fewer from small rural public schools.

“That seemed like a challenge and I’m up for a challenge,” Johnson said. “I thought, ‘I’m going to try for there.'”

The Academy reviewed Johnson’s grades, activities, fitness, leadership and character, as well as nominations he received from U.S. Rep. Billy Long and U.S. Sensators Roy Blunt and Claire McCaskill as the senior waited to hear back, the News-Leader reports.

Johnson’s family and counselors encouraged him to apply to other schools, as well, and he earned full-ride scholarships to several. But his family’s history of military service and interest in aviation made the Academy his top pick.

“If you want to be a pilot, one of the first things you look at is the Air Force,” he said. “The prestige of going to the academy interested me.”

A year after starting the application process – five years after refocusing his life – Johnson received word that he was selected for an appointment, a value of more than $400,000 that includes tuition, room and board, medical, and a monthly stipend, according to the news site.

“I never had any doubt in him,” Sanders said. “He started excelling later, in his high school career, and now he’s the top dog.”

When teachers and principals think about how to motivate students who could do more with their lives than just pass time in school without accomplishing much there are lesson plans at the UK’s The Jubilee Centre.  These lessons plans focus on flourishing from the margins and can be found here.


Study shows character education effective with both youngsters and high schoolers

A new study suggests character education programs can be effective, and even more so, in high school than with younger students.

William Jeynes, Senior Fellow at the Witherspoon Institute in Princeton, said during a recent presentation at Oxford University that his analysis of 52 different character education studies involving more than 225,000 students shows character education has the biggest impact on high schoolers.

“The results are particularly intriguing, because the sparse number of character education school programs that there are, emphasize ‘getting them when they’re young,’” Jeynes said, according to the Religion News Service. “However, these results suggest that not only does character education have quite robust effects on student behavior and academic outcomes overall, but it also has an especially potent impact in high school.”

Jaynes contends that while his analysis “goes against the tide of current thought that character instruction should primarily take place when pupils are young, upon further examination, they really do make sense.”

“Students begin the process of making some of the most important decisions of their lives when they are in high school,” he said. “If there is ever a time in which they need moral guidance, this is the time period.”

Jaynes also discussed how character education  has become eroded in American schools, and offered his take on how to pursue character education in a world that shuns religious references in schools.

“In the aftermath of U.S. Supreme Court decisions in 1962 and 1963 that removed the Bible and voluntary prayer from the public schools, an unintended consequence of their actions was the defacto removal of character education as well,” he said. “This is because when schools taught love, forgiveness, or the ‘golden rule,’ all it would take is one parent to complain that such teaching was Christianity to cause schools to retreat from teaching related to character. “Naturally, although love and forgiveness are an integral part of Christianity, one can demonstrate each quality without being a Christian.”

“The character education that is appropriate in our contemporary society is one that emphasizes the values that virtually all people value, unless they are in prison or a sociopath,” Jaynes said. “These include honesty, sincerity, responsibility, love, and respect. We do not have to go into the real controversial issues.”

James Davison Hunter in his book on moral education, The Death of Character, reminds us “Instead of forcing commonality in our moral discourse at the expense of particularity, one discovers commanlity through particularity…. We will most certainly discover other moral agreements about integrity, fairness, altruism, responsibility, respect, valor—agreements too numerous to mention. But these agreements will be found within moral diversity not in spite of it.”[1] Thus maintaining space for different moral communities to flourish side-by-side is conducive to character formation.

[1] Hunter, James Davison. The Death of Character (Basic, 2000), p. 230.

The UK’s Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues has developed extensive curriculum for secondary school teachers to teach character. The virtue of justice could be applied to examples of evil and injustice that are found throughout history. The Jubilee Centre’s lesson on justice would be a reliable place for educators to begin.

PA student calls for focus on moral issues to address root causes of school violence

A student at St. Louis de Monfort Academy in Herndon, Pennsylvania is pointing to moral issues in America as the root cause of school violence, and he’s explaining why he doesn’t think new gun control laws will help the situation.

Student Gregory O. Murphy recently penned a letter to the editor of The Daily Item to highlight why he believes student walkouts across the country to call for gun control in the wake of school shootings is a misguided mission.

“Seeing the reactions from a few schools around America, as a student from St. Louis de Monfort Academy, I believe that the school walkouts are a wrong way of trying to solve the problem,” Murphy wrote. “All of us realize the tragedy of these killings, and we don’t want to see it happen again.

“However, more gun laws won’t solve the problem,” Murphy argued.

This view will be seen as shocking to many, for the default position today is that politics is the first recourse to solving social problems. And yet social science shows that “the amount of law that exists in any society is always inversely related to the coherence and stability of its common culture: law increases as cultural consensus decreases.”   Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture Professor James Hunter of the University of Virginia warns, “It is only logical that problems affecting the society are seen increasingly, if not primarily through the prism of the state; that is, in terms of how law, policy, and politics can solve them…. This is the heart of politicization and it has gone so far as to affect our language, imagination, and expectations.”  In fact, the reality of these pressing social concerns is often beyond the simple solution of passing more laws. Character and culture also play a decisive role in ways that are often overlooked.

Murphy contends school violence is a moral issue with roots in government and politics, largely guided by a modern society that’s lost focus on the true purpose of life. He pointed to a recent column by author and scholar John Horvat II, published in Crisis Magazine shortly after the most recent school shooting in Parkland, Florida that left 17 people dead in February.

Murphy wrote:

John Horvat II, author of “Return to Order,” puts it well saying in his article “When Will the Shooting Stop?,” that “the nihilistic nature of these dark crimes signals a much deeper problem that strikes at the foundation of modern society.” He continues showing how these mass shootings are the result of a liberalism, which deprives life of purpose, because truly “Nothing makes sense without God.” Without God, there is no longer anything stopping people from evil. Mr. Horvat continues that, “When taken to its final consequences, liberalism presents a despairing worldview, in which man is the product of random causes inside an unintelligible universe.”

Murphy concludes that student walkouts, more gun control laws, and more government intervention will undoubtedly do little to curb violence in schools, particularly school shooters.

“ …(W)e need to change our mentality,” he wrote.

“We have to realize that big problems are only solved with big solutions. We should first address the moral issues,” Murphy continued. “While this is not dealt with, we can only expect the shootings to continue.”

Teachers and principals interested in strengthening the moral culture of their school can find information and support at the UK’s Jubilee Centre.