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Tuesday, September 16, 2014
More about the aftermath of Newtown
By Steve Kussin

As explained last time, the college admissions series is on hold while I investigate the Newtown massacre on several levels. Last time I enumerated 15 steps districts are taking to shore up school security. I also alluded to my longstanding belief that better mental health services is the way to go. More about that below.

I also reported how I pre-empted my regular reports on WCBS Newsradio 880 to talk about this tragedy from several perspectives. I shared some of those thoughts and will continue to do so this week and next.

The tragedy was personalized for me. First, much of my consulting work has been in Connecticut; every time a reporter on the scene said — “small-town, New England” — the pit in my stomach deepened. Second, my fraternity brother and his wife, are veterinarians in the area; several of the victims were their clients. And third, the gun incident at the middle school in Mamaroneck on Jan. 3 really hit home: I was an assistant principal in that district for five years.

My heart still breaks every time I see pictures of those 20 Newtown children whose lives were snuffed out. And my heart breaks for the teachers and administrators who made the supreme sacrifice. They literally took bullets to be human shields, saving as many of the children whom they were charged to take care of, and did to highest degree.

For the past seven and a half years, I’ve used this column to “vigorously fight teacher bashing, constantly trying to elevate the profession. At times it’s been an uphill battle. Listeners who heard me say those words on WCBS noted anger in my voice; indeed there was. As I’ve said repeatedly, teachers have been made scapegoats over the past few years. Sadly, it took a horrific incident to let the public know what educators are all about.

I know firsthand what goes on inside a classroom — and the dedication that makes teachers special. As I acknowledged over the radio ... yes, there are “lousy” ones. But there are “lousy” doctors, lawyers, and members of just about every other profession. I can attest to the fact that the vast majority of educators come to school every day and put their students first — as we saw firsthand in Newtown. They are “class acts,” as I’ve come to call them.

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