|Gabby Giffords and husband Mark Kelly at UCI's Langston Library, Saturday October 13|
Seven years ago, in the wake of the shooting that targeted Giffords, took six lives and wounded more than a dozen, Timothy Noah asked a question many have been asking lately, "What does a kid have to do these days to get kicked out of community college?" The shooter was Pima Community College student Jared Lee Loughner whose educational experience was reviewed in Noah's Slate article "Class Clown: Why was it so hard to kick Loughner out of Pima Community College?"
Loughner wasn’t just inexplicably difficult to remove from Pima; he was even more inexplicably difficult to remove from Ben McGahee’s algebra class at Pima. McGahee told the Washington Post that he had to complain repeatedly to Pima administrators about Loughner’s disruptions before they let him kick Loughner out of the class. On the first day, McGahee said, Loughner yelled “How can you deny math instead of accepting it?” That same day a student in the class complained about Loughner in an e-mail to a friend: “I’m not certain yet if he was on drugs (as one person surmised) or disturbed. He scares me a bit. The teacher tried to throw him out and he refused to go.” Nine days later this student wrote in an e-mail: “Until he does something bad, you can’t do anything about him. Needless to say, I sit by the door.” Four days later the student wrote that Loughner “scares the living crap out of me.” It was three or four weeks before McGahee was permitted to remove Loughner from class. McGahee told the Post that when he first complained, “They just said, ‘Well, he hasn’t taken any action to hurt anyone. He hasn’t provoked anybody. He hasn’t brought any weapons to class.’ ” Meanwhile, McGahee said that whenever he turned “to write on the board, I would always turn back quickly—to see if he had a gun.”
It's complicated, for sure, balancing rights and responsibilities but it can't be that complicated. It can't be.
Perhaps we need a new movement: Trust teachers. We know.