I Pity the Fool
Is there something to the Dr. Ben Chavis method? His critics claim he ran off all the bad students--which they claim are the Black, Latino, and American Indian students. But, what about the individual stories? Do those students lie? Does Chavis lie?
This morning I had a conversation with a regular attender of the In-School-Suspension room. He was in the process of writing a persuasive essay opposing the extention of the school day or school year. He wasn't sure how to organize the essay. But the discussion branched off into what causes schools to fail. Under the impression that our students fail because they are minorities, this student was curious about my feelings.
We discussed the many contributors to student failure. I mentioned that poverty affects student achievement, but so does poor teaching. I admitted that inconsistencies in holding students accountable for rule breaking is as detrimental to the system as students disrupting the school day. The student found it fascinating that I would admit to him that when a teacher stops holding a student accountable to the rule (say, no iPods in the hall), we have quit caring about their success. What we are implying with our blind eye is that the student is not important enough to correct. Chavis writes, "Training a pony is not much different from disciplining students. The key is wearing students out and teaching them to realize there is no use in being defiant (185).
Yep, some of you will become outraged at the comparison. I can hear the progressive angst now: "People are not animals. They have feelings and self-esteem. We, as teachers, cannot harm their precious little souls." It makes me laugh. If our students come to us acting like fools, we ought to treat them like the fools they are, not indulge their foolishness.