Wednesday, November 27, 2019

School Discipline Needs Enforcement!

Here is a youtube video featuring an Ohio teacher placed on Facebook by Lee Barrios, decrying the lack of support for teachers in maintaining discipline in the classroom. We have exactly the same problem in Louisiana! The big difference is that while the Ohio teacher proposes that there needs to be a written policy specifying effective consequences for student misbehavior, Louisiana has exactly such a policy in state law and in the Teacher Bill of Rights. The problem is that the pressure from our Louisiana Department of Education acts to discourage local school systems from enforcing the law and supporting teachers in maintaining classroom discipline.

Teachers in St. Tammany led by longtime teacher advocate Lee Barrios, are speaking out about the need for the school system to enforce the law on discipline. But the problem is that the non-educator administrators in the LDOE have erected obstacles to discipline enforcement, especially if it results in student suspensions. The fact is that most school systems provide more that sufficient alternatives to suspension. The problem is that if a school administrator assigns a disruptive or disrespectful student to after school detention, and the student does not show up, out-of-school suspension often becomes the only remaining option. The school should not be down rated on the LDOE website for taking necessary action to back up teachers in maintaining order.

Let me be clear: I agree with the teacher in the video. If one student is depriving the rest of the class of their instruction time, then that one disruptive student needs to go. In addition, I would suggest that in serious or repeated cases of violation of discipline policy, the parents should be required to take appropriate action to get the student to behave properly if the student is to be readmitted to school. All of that is already provided in state law. But there are serious flaws in enforcement.

The problem is that the Louisiana State Department of Education is so determined to hand out diplomas, earned or not, to greater and greater percentages of students that the rights of the majority of students are being taken away. The present situation is that almost any wrongdoing can be ignored just so a student can be handed a worthless piece of paper (diploma). Excessive absences in violation of the state's mandatory attendance law are routinely excused, worthless credit recovery courses are given to students who fail required courses, and cut scores on required courses are low enough to allow illiterate students to get credit. This is what school "reform" has done to our pubic schools.