Teacher dies protecting students

A Marine veteran, Michael Landsberry survived two tours in Afghanistan with the Nevada Air National Guard. The Sparks (Nevada) middle school math teacher died trying to disarm a student yesterday. The 12-year-old shooter also wounded two boys, who are in stable condition, before killing himself.

“Mr. Landsberry’s heroic actions, by stepping toward the shooter, allowed time for other students in the playground area to flee,” said Washoe County School District Police Chief Mike Mieras.

Before opening fire, the boy said, “Why you people making fun of me, why you laughing at me?,” according to student Michelle Hernandez.

The boy used a Ruger 9 mm semiautomatic handgun that belonged to his parents, police said.

“The relentless, inflexible and unyielding focus on ‘test-taking’ and school rankings and scores” is to blame, writes Debra Feemster, a former Sparks principal, on Diane Ravitch’s blog. “If one teacher, counselor or administrator had had a few extra minutes to look into this student’s eyes and possibly connected with him in a meaningful way, maybe this catastrophe could have been averted.”

“Think of the children whose social and emotional needs are ignored in pursuit of test scores,” Ravitch writes.

Feemster and Ravitch are accusing Sparks Middle School staffers of ignoring students’ “social and emotional needs” and failing to prevent the shooting.

Let’s honor Mr. Landsberry’s courage and decency. Let’s not politicize a tragedy.

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  1. Bostonian says:

    The shooter said nothing about tests, and the principal and Diane Ravitch should be ashamed of their baseless speculation. Obviously they will try use any tragic event to further agenda. Reasonable people can disagree with education without stooping to such a level. It would be just as idiotic for education reformers to blame the shooting on the existence of a teacher’s union at the boy’s school.

  2. Deirdre Mundy says:

    Actually, from the reports it sounds like the shooter was being bullied… so the ‘testing’ thing is probably an attempt to head off the inevitable lawsuit for letting the kid be bullied to the point of flipping out…..;

  3. One of the first effects of full inclusion that was noted here was that the nonclassified children could go weeks without speaking to an adult at school. Full inclusion meant whole class instruction – no more small group instruction where the teacher would have the chance to get to know the child and make that connection. Classified students and troublemakers of course could get all the adult attention they needed, but those well behaved students who are barely 3s receive nothing, week after week, year after year.

  4. Richard Aubrey says:

    To make a bad analogy, the vultures can’t pick at a corpse which is buried, so they have to be right on top of things.
    Half a century ago, when I was in HS, we got tests, we got quizzes, we had to do reports and homework. Some of the homework was annoying, requiring tracing and epic memorizing–ten French vocab words twice a week, quantum numbers, etc.–and a good many other mechanical issues.
    No matter what, a teacher could look into a kid’s eyes, particularly if there were some indication of trouble.
    And as to the relentless emphasis, are teachers being fired by battalions as would salesmen who don’t make their numbers?
    You can’t get anybody fired for obsessing over ill-chewed poptarts or NRA tee shirts.
    Test scores?
    Without more data, obviously, the shooter figured somebody was lauging at him. Might be true. Some kids are not trained to leave the different alone. “Don’t stare.” “Don’t point.” “Don’t laugh.” And that doesn’t count bullying.
    OTOH, the shooter could be delusional. Somebody laughs at a joke, he thinks the joke’s on him.