Patti Johnson

April 18, 2000

A year after the Columbine High massacre, people are still trying to make sense of the tragedy. But if one member of the Colorado State Board of Education is correct, then the high school need look no further than its curriculum.

Patti Johnson is serving her fifth year on the state board of education, and has been receiving lots of criticism for a speech she gave detailing her belief that death education and other educational fads are largely responsible for the actions of Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold.

Students in class were encouraged to make videos. Most showed violence, and some even showed scenes of the high school being blown up. Didn't that suggest that some of the students would act out their views? Back in 1990, the ABC program 20/20 did an investigative report on death education at Columbine High School. Should we be so surprised that less than a decade later, a massacre took place at this school?

Patti Johnson has certainly done her homework. She cites William Glasser's Schools Without Failure and Benjamin Bloom's Taxonomy. Bloom, for example, believes there are no real right or wrong answers. And that, she says, is the foundation of so much of the curriculum at Columbine High School.

She points to a lifeboat scenario popular in some classrooms. Students must decide which life is expendable: a disabled person, a rich man, a healthy doctor, a pregnant woman. She argues that Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold did their own lifeboat scenario, targeting blacks, jocks, and Christians.

Patti Johnson also believes the drugs that Eric Harris was taking before April 20 may have played a part in the rage he and Klebold worked up to commit the act. But whether it was drugs or the curriculum, she is pointing the finger at issues that the school district apparently would like to ignore.

I'm Kerby Anderson of Probe Ministries, and that's my opinion.