Target: U.S. Department of Education
Goal: Empower public school teachers to reclaim control of disorderly and dangerous classrooms.
Public schools have drastically decreased the number of suspensions and expulsions, in some schools by up to 50%. Unfortunately, the consequence is that kids are more disorderly and disruptive than ever; there is little or no repercussion for their actions. Now, students are cursing at teachers and each other, hitting, fighting, screaming, even threatening to bring guns and bombs to school knowing there is little the teachers can do about it. As per the newly intensified pressure to lessen suspensions and expulsions teachers and administrators have lost control of the classrooms and schoolyards.
One teacher in a Denver public school claims that kids threaten to follow him home and “jump” him after school. He and scores of other teachers say they don’t feel safe in and out of school. They are saying that kids will start furiously screaming and yelling at them, even trying to fight with them or other students, when they get angry. They say this wasn’t the case before school boards increased pressure to lower numbers of suspensions and expulsions. Now, the kids know that consequences for their actions will be mild, so they do as they please. In underfunded schools densely over packed with too many malnourished kids and too few underpaid teachers, is it any surprise that kids find no reason to restrain their anger?
This is only a tiny piece of the puzzle that is the American public school system conundrum. Of course we don’t want to see kids sent out of the classroom, but simply eliminating what meager consequences once existed for malevolent behavior is only serving to exaggerate the problem—keeps the problems in school and adversely affects the other students and teachers. Kids are gaining less from school, and teachers are unhappy and more stressed than ever. One teacher says she has had to start using a bite guard at night, because the present conditions in the classroom have made her start vigorously grinding her teeth. She says there has been such an increase in ornery behavior in students that she spends less time teaching and more time attempting to restore order. For the sanctity of the classroom and sanity of the teachers, it is important that we reinstate consequences for bad behavior while more appropriate and thoughtful solutions are sought.
Dear U.S. Department of Education,
Efforts to cut down school suspensions and expulsions over the past two years looks good on paper, but is reaping havoc in the classroom. Many kids are taking advantage of the lackadaisical consequences and acting out in class. They are being disruptive and violent. Teachers have to spend much more time dealing with in-class interruptions, taking away from the education of the other students. It goes as far as kids screaming, hitting, and fighting in class, even threatening to bring weapons to school. When other kids see their peers acting out without consequence they think its okay to do the same, and malevolence spreads throughout the schools. The education of the other students is also being compromised, and so is the sanity of the teachers.
For the sake of the teachers and the other students, let’s restore authority to our educators until we find solutions that don’t add to the chaos, rather restore the true value and integrity to the education system. Please reconsider putting extensive pressure on schools to cut expulsions and suspensions while we seek more thoughtful solutions to the expulsions/suspension problem.
[Your Name Here]
photo credit: Sizumaru via Flickr