Last week’s murder of six and wounding of 14 in a Safeway parking lot in Tucson has led to a lot of discussion in both the blogoshere and the traditional press. Did heated political rhetoric in the media fuel the confrontation? Why didn’t the clearly erratic behavior of the alleged gunman tip-off authorities? I can speak from some experience in the latter case and feel that — for better or worse — teachers and administrators simply don’t extrapolate beyond their own social groups when assessing possible damaging behavior. I know I didn’t.

Thirty years ago I was teaching at Stanford University. One of my students was in a graduate program in the School of Education. He […]