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.