Dawning of a new day for teachers?

Teaching has become a grueling, often humiliating ordeal when it should rightfully be a proud and noble career. It amazes me that teachers are given so little support when they are the real key to a better future for our children.

It is a tribute to their strength of purpose that so many dedicated people continue teaching in the face of increasingly litiginous parents, personal attacks by undisciplined students, and little or no backup from timid administrators.

It is hard enough to provide encouragement to 30 or more students of widely varying abilities and motivations without suffering threats and intimidation from students and their parents.

Facing a hostile audience is hard on anyone. When the audience heckles, interrupts, and threatens a teacher, who often has no means of enforcing discipline, class time can be a harrowing ordeal on the teacher and anyone who desires to learn.

When I was going to school in the 1940’s and 1950’s, such incidents were rare and the perpetrators were suspended for repeat offenses. Somehow, the touchie-feelie approach to education has managed to bring about a state of educational anarchy. Poor students are passed so they won’t feel discriminated against, and disruptive, hostile students are issued repeated and ineffectual warnings which confirm their contempt of the school and its personnel.

Two recent articles have made me wonder if we have reached bottom in our quest for politically correct educational spinelessness and are starting a rebound toward a more effective and less “progressive” approach to educating children by giving our teachers the support they need.

The first encouraging sign was this article in Christian Science Monitor on April 23, 2004, titled, “A teacher fights back against unruly kids

PHOENIX – Elizabeth Anne Moore, a reading teacher at a west Phoenix high school, has a new ending and a new title for the 350-page book she has written about being an educator. She’ll call it, “Violated No More.”
This week, Ms. Moore won a court injunction against a 15-year-old student who had been harassing her in class – including, by her account, telling her daily to “go [expletive] myself.”

Read the article, it might give you a new view of what modern teachers face daily.

Another sign that something is finally being done about outlaw students was this article in the New York Times: Unruly Students Facing Arrest, Not Detention By Sara Rimer 1/04/04

…In cities and suburbs around the country, schools are increasingly sending students into the juvenile justice system for the sort of adolescent misbehavior that used to be handled by school administrators. In Toledo and many other places, the juvenile detention center has become an extension of the principal’s office.

…School officials say they have little choice. “The goal is not to put kids out, but to maintain classrooms free of disruptions that make it impossible for teachers to teach and kids to learn,” said Jane Bruss, the spokeswoman for the Toledo public schools. “Would we like more alternatives? Yes, but everything has a cost associated with it.”

…”The idea that you try to find out why somebody did something or give a person a second chance or try to solve a problem in a way that’s not punitive — that’s become almost quaint now,” said Laurence Steinberg, a professor of psychology at Temple University and the director of the MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Adolescent Development and Juvenile Justice.

What has also changed, Dr. Steinberg said, is that principals are less able to depend on parents to enforce the discipline schools mete out. “I think in the past the threat of getting in touch with a kid’s parents was often enough to get a kid to start behaving,” he said. “Now, kids feel parents will fight on their behalf.”

There are some who feel that this is too drastic and there are many in the judicial system who resent the additional workload that is being forced upon them. Nobody, however, seems to have a better suggestion for keeping schools safe.

I think the solution is to suspend problem students from school and let them go to work if they want to. Using schools as detention centers for hostile individuals is a waste of valuable resources and disrupts those who are really trying to learn. That, to my mind verges on criminal neglect.

You should read this article and see if you can come up with suggestions for making schools safe for students who want to learn.

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