Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Disrupting Education

I had an interesting and wide ranging conversation with an RUSD teacher at a Memorial Day gathering yesterday. Among her main concerns is the inability to discipline children. She blames this on the mandates that require public schools to educate all children. Children know that that there are no real immediate consequences for their bad behavior, so they misbehave. And suspensions are discouraged as it looks bad for the district. The teachers husband also chimed in, noting that minority students are even more protected from disciplinary measures. He relayed a story where a hall monitor allowed a minority student to walk into school despite some blatantly obvious violations of the dress code. The hall monitor indicated that he was unable to speak to, or stop this particular student, because of a threatened law suit by the students parents.

What is a conscientious teacher to do? Imagine yourself in a situation like this. A child decides to disrupt your class, as he does on a daily basis. Previous attempts to discipline this child were not supported by the principal, as high suspension rates would reflect negatively on his/her administration. Efforts to engage the childs parents were unsuccessful, and the bad behavior continued. Taking a hard line approach with this student and others will set you up for constant confrontations with students. You see other teachers taking a different approach. They are appeasing the disruptive students, because they have learned that it is easier than confronting the offensive behavior. They begin to act with less authority towards their students. They become known as a "cool" teacher. And finally, the conscientious teacher slowly conforms to the lowered standard. The disruptive element now rules the school.

Maybe it is time to look at education as an opportunity, rather than a right.


Anonymous said...

I couldn't agree more. My wife is a k4 teacher in MPS. She teaches in the ghetto. While some of the parents are very supportive of teachers/school others are not. The school won't/can't discipline the kids because of inclusion laws so they really are teaching to the lowest common denominator.

The inclusion law states that children with special needs (ranging from speech to severe emotional problems) can only be suspended 10 times per year. If you send them home early one day, that counts as a suspension.

My wife has actually had a parent boast about the law. After the 4th suspension in September the parent literally went up to my wife and bragged that there were only 6 suspensions left for the entire year and after that not to call her anymore, because she didn't care. That was the parent of the child.

How is that child ever going to get an education when the parent doesn't care? How is that child ever going to escape poverty?

The parents who are involved have good kids. You can see the look in those kids eyes that they will succeed in life.

Denis Navratil said...

Thanks Clint.

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