Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Makes me want to quit

Let's go ahead and tread on some thin ice tonight. Via Joanne Jacobs' blog, I've discovered what might make me quit teaching--discipline quotas. More precisely, in Tucson, "Schools that suspend or expel Hispanic and black students at higher rates than white students will now get a visit from a distric 'Equity Team' and will be expected to remedy those disparities by reducing their minority discipline rates."
At the risk of progressives calling me racist, I'd like to ask a few questions:

1. Do Hispanic and black students violate the rules at a higher rate than white students? Meaning, if 10.5 percent (as reported) of all Hispanic students get suspended, does that 10.5 percent break the rules egregiously enough to get suspended?
2. Do the white students violate the same rules and receive the same punishments?
3. Is the disparity a result of more rule breaking by the Hispanic and black students in comparison to the white students?

If 10.5 percent of the Hispanic students break the rules egregiously enough to merit suspension, then they should be suspended. If a white student commits the same violation, he or she should be suspended as well.
If the white students receiving the same punishments for equal violations, then a the disparity is only in numerical value, not in special treatment.
If the Hispanic and black students are violating the rules at a higher rate, then the obvious deduction is that their discipline rates will be higher.

When political correctness blocks our ability to discipline a student, we castrate our ability to control the learning environment. If we put teachers in a position where they must second guess their decision to issue corrective punishment, we will lose our authority as teachers. Why should a student take me seriously in the classroom when my instructions are to write a 5 paragraph essay when in the hallway I won't hold them accountable to the no iPod rule.
And before the progressives get all worked up, let me address a very real problem in schools like Tucson. There are some teachers, security personnel, and administrators who target minority students. Their preconceived ideas and latent prejudices cause them to look the other way when a "good white student in DECA" walks by without their pass. They know the student or have seen the student actively participating in positive behaviors, so they smile and walk on by. But when that same teacher sees a regular hall-walker, who happens to be Hispanic, the teacher will stop and ask for the student's passport book.
What I would really like to see is a commitment by our schools from the earliest years to teach all students how to behave in school. I would like to see our schools look past the socio-economics or race of a student and hold them to all to the same exact standard. And when any student deviates from that standard, he or she is disciplined appropriately. Because for as much as I have seen minority students targeted, I have also seen minority students get away with far more than a non-minority student out of fear of being labeled by an administrator or the student.


At 5:59 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Visit preschools, kindergartens (with 22 or more) and visit grades one and two and see staff attemping to train students about appropriate group behaviour, how to focus for more than 30 seconds and how to play together.

You may find it unbelieveable but at age 3 and 4, these little children are sent out to 'play' in groups without adult suprevision and learn the scappy and rude behaviours very difficult to overcome. (think Animal Farm)

There is much effort at young ages in schools to help little students be successful and learn appropriate school and other public behaviours. It seems the adults outsdie school in many of their lives have no clue of what is appropriate and no clue how to impart positive and successful behaviour to their kids.

Lots of adults in your DRG I are too busy satisfying some other need of their own. Care of the next generation is left to others.

At 10:21 AM , Blogger Margaret English said...

Madness. Assuming that every student is required to follow the same rules and receives the same punishments for not doing so, outside interference is in no way required.

At 10:37 AM , Anonymous clsmith1 said...

I agree wholeheartedly that parts of the system are broken, the need for political correctness being one of them. If we truly believe that students should be treated equally, then that equality must include discipline. Otherwise, as you've said, the teacher has absolutely no power.


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