Writing for England’s Observer, Victoria Coren compares the response to a “revolt” by students at expensive private school Uppingham with the case of the teacher who bludgeoned a student with a 3kg weight – and whose acquittal was “greeted with a sort of public jubilation”:
The curious case of uppity Uppingham: “I want to go to Uppingham because of the revolt. Last week, hundreds of pupils staged a rebellion after seven of their peers were expelled for bullying. They marched into the quad, chanting for the headmaster and shouting abuse, before heading off to smoke and drink on the playing fields.”
Looking at the two incidents side-by-side, Coren sees a crisis demanding attention:
“If people believe that is the state of play in British schools, then nothing else matters. The electoral candidates should have had no other priority. It is a state of emergency as immediate and intense as the street riots in Greece….
forget the debt, forget the war, forget electoral reform. The public response to that pupil attack, the idea of “Yes, well, he would, wouldn’t he?”, is the scariest thing to have happened in this country for years. Put your jacket back on, set the toasting fork down and start putting out the flames.”
Coren’s right in many ways, and what she says applies not just to the state of British schools. The oil spill and the immigration situation in Arizona are serious matters, but consider the amount of media attention and energy they are getting. And then consider the crises closer to home, with children, the appalling state of public education, endemic homelessness, endemic violence against women, corporate despoiling of the environment as a matter of daily business, racism riddled through American society… Why do we allow these crises to become normalized, to cease to outrage us on a daily basis?