It's teacher hunting season!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Weak school discipline leads to family grief and neighborhood mayhem

I have previously written in this blog about the problem of poor discipline, or serious class misbehavior in New York City Public Schools. Highly frustrating and disappointing, from a professional stand-point is supervisors' or administrators' essential unwillingness to enforce punishments against disruptive students, violent students or students that "play" in a dangerous manner. Teachers are scolded against reporting violent misdeeds. Growing numbers of administrators in the era of Bloomberg/Klein/ Black and Walcott actually hold teachers responsible for the incidents-- propagating the notion that if only teachers did a better (read more entertaining) job of "classroom management" no violence would occur.

Furthermore, students pick up on how there are no punishments. Some crafty students pick up on the stock scolding phrase by supervisors against teachers, "you can't control your class." When administrators blame teachers for boring or alienating the students and then stone-wall against issuing any punishments against violent or otherwise disruptive students, then the charge about being unable to control the students becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy.

But I have said this all before. It is important to remind the public, in light of recent public events, of the context around such misbehavior. First, this spring there were local television reports about how a middle school in East New York, Brooklyn was the site of a girl' jabbing another student with a hypodermic needle. It is no wonder that such outrages do not occur more often. For, administrators berate teachers when they alert the administration to warning signs that presage such behavior. A second telling anecdote was the riot trashing of one Greenwich Village, Manhattan, Dunkin Donuts shop by a mini-flash mob of teenagers. I would bet that one lesson that the students in each story had long ago learned in school was that there are few consequences for disruptive or aggressive behavior.


The "b" word is not how I refer to students, but the following article makes some points that policy "leaders" and parents need to consider:
(July 2, 2011 LZ Granderson, CNN Contributor, "Permissive parents: Curb your brats")
The author addresses the "kind of parent who allows your 5-year-old to run rampant in public places like restaurants" or airplanes or grocery stores.
[W]e know you don't discipline them at home because you don't possess "the look." If you had "the look," you wouldn't need to say "sit down" a thousand times.

If you had "the look," you wouldn't need to say much of anything at all. But this nonverbal cue needs to be introduced early and reinforced diligently with consequences for transgressions, just like potty training. And whenever a kid throws a temper tantrum in the middle of the shopping mall it's just as bad as his soiling his pants to spite his parents, and it stinks just as much.

And teachers are supposed to create discipline in the classroom when there has been none outside of the classroom.

Numerous commenters spoke of this in the comments page to a New York Times article Thursday, July 18 that had an enabling tone for the students subjected to suspensions.

I am a parent. I want my children safe at school. I send my children to school for education, not so that they can take part in babysitting students. Teachers are supposed to "teach," not handle disruptions from unruly children and young adults. It does not seem appropriate to ask our schools to become "rehibilation" centers, like jails, for children who have no respect for themselves and others.

. . .

Teachers are there to teach, not raise kids. The curriculum should include scholastic subjects, not life skills. Those are parental responsibilities.

. . .

One New York City middle school teacher in Brooklyn, on her first year teaching:)
The principal's solution when I asked for help was to threaten me with dismissal if I couldn't control my class. The assistant principal suggested, when I pleaded for guidance, that I just quietly move next to the disruptive student and stand there; not touch the kid, just make sure he or she knows that he or she is out of order. This was somewhat less effective than the useless call home. . . . We need to understand why other countries are able to teach their school children in quiet, controlled classrooms.

. . .

I find it profoundly significant that the word "parents" never occurs in this article. As long as parents continue to abdicate their responsibilities to others (schools, the government, churches) the dysfunction illustrated in this article will either stay the same or get worse.

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