One Disruptive Student Can Keep a Whole Class from Learning

The following was copied from Pioneer Press, October 30, 2015, Joe Soucheray.  The content was not altered, though fonts, and color were added for emphasis, and some links were dropped.  ~~ Publius Jr.


Soucheray: Powerless teachers make it easier for unruly students to rule

By Joe Soucheray

Posted:   10/30/2015 10:16:16 PM CDT | Updated:   54 min. ago

As an indication of the alarm concerning violence in the St. Paul schools, many of the letters I have received from former teachers have been delivered by the U.S. Postal Service, suggesting to me a degree of experience that predates instant technology. School marms and pas are weighing in.

Violence in the schools includes Minneapolis schools, by the way, where a handgun and ammunition were found in a locker belonging to a 16-year-old student at Patrick Henry High School last week. This, too, resulted in a torrent of beatific but meaningless drivel about needing more community involvement and such. It goes without saying that the administrators also pine for more money, there being no evidence that more money results in anything except the hiring of more bureaucrats who exacerbate the problem.

The problem is not complicated. A conscious decision has been made, with the help of expensive consultants, to reduce the suspensions of unruly students on the grounds that the students are unruly only due to systemic racism, which is a negative that cannot be proven.

Unruly students allowed to remain in school results in more fights, more incivility, more instability and an impossible learning environment for the students who only wish to wrestle with algorithms.

It is not hyperbole to say that often now teachers and students are in danger.

One of the best letters I received, from a veteran of 16 years in St. Paul schools, insisted that one disruptive student can keep a whole class from learning. One.

“I’m not talking about a day or a few days,” Brian Nichols wrote, meaning the disruption, “but the whole year. A teacher cannot let this happen. I repeat, a teacher cannot let this happen.”

Ah, but they must. It has been so ordered that suspensions have been too numerous and must be reduced. The corrective goal has been reversed. The misbehavior that causes what should be suspensions must be addressed.

The letter writer was not the first to suggest that disruptive students should be suspended and cannot come back to school without a responsible adult in tow, a parent, an aunt, an uncle, the television repairman, somebody. An adult.

“I had a student that disrupted my class too often,” Nichols wrote. “I had a conference with his mother. She understood my problem and said they also had trouble with him at home. I asked her if she could come to school the next day. She said she could. I told her to come to my class five minutes after class started and leave five minutes before it ended. She said she would. I told her I would have a seat in the back of the room for her to sit. She was not to talk to anyone, just sit there.

“The next day when she walked into class, I was watching her son. I thought his chin was going to hit the floor. When the class was over, I asked John if he wanted his mother to come to school tomorrow. Of course, he said no. I asked him if he knew what he had to do to keep that from happening. He said yes. The problem was solved.”

Why, legions, whole armies, of teachers will tell you that they are powerless under the thumb of administrative orders to back off. As a result of backing off, what was once disruption that might have been solved by a parent sitting in back of the classroom has now escalated to the point where police officers have been installed in schools! This is unfathomable to my generation. Some of us still have knots on the backs of our heads from when we got banged into a locker by a passing teacher.

I am not suggesting that teachers administer physical harm to a child. I am suggesting that the more powerless teachers are to enforce discipline, the easier it is for kids to get away with whatever it is they want to get away with.

It doesn’t work.

Joe Soucheray can be reached at jsoucheray@pioneerpress.com or 651-228-5474. Soucheray is heard from 1 to 4 p.m. weekdays on 1500ESPN.

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