Sunday, April 10, 2016
School Safety Incidents Increase As Bill de Blasio Weakens The Student Discipline Code.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg was terrible for the New York City Public School system as he allowed class sizes to increase, shortchanged the schools of badly needed resources, and waged a continuous war with the teacher union that hurt students and staff alike. Moreover, he was responsible for closing 163 schools, many of them large comprehensive high schools that the neighborhood revolved around and his favoritism to charter schools hurt the remaining neighborhood schools as he "robbed Peter to pay Paul" principle by taking funds from the Public School sector to support the charter schools. Finally, his "education on the cheap" policy encouraged principals to hire "the cheapest and not the best teachers" for their school and most schools were funded at only 82% to 86% of their allocation under "fair student funding". To say the least, the New York City Public Schools suffered greatly under Michael Bloomberg. However, one of the few bright spots was the Mayor's policy on student discipline. No cellphones, suspensions for repeat offenders or violent incidents and an overall "zero tolerance policy" for student misconduct. This made for a safer school environment and a culture of respect for school staff since the students realized there were serious consequences for their misbehavior.
When Bill de Blasio became Mayor, he brought with him a progressive agenda that included promises of lower class size, more school funding, and no more school closings, All of these promises have been unmet as school budgets have remain frozen at 2012 levels and at 86% of allocated funding, class sizes have actually increased, and schools are still closing. The one promise he kept was weakening the student discipline code and the results for school safety and on student learning has been disastrous.. According to the news media student misbehavior has increased as many minor offenses go unpunished. Teachers are complaining that their classrooms have become unmanageable as students are distracted by cellphone use and their school's failure to remove disruptive or tardy students. Moreover, student insubordination is a major issue as students know there is little consequence for disrespecting staff instructions. An analysis done by a pro charter school group found a 23% rise in violent incidents under Mayor Bill de Blasio, Worse yet, was the reported spike in violent incidents at the 48 Renewal schools.
The De Blasio solution is restorative justice rather than suspension and as suspensions have gone down significantly, violent incidents have risen as student misbehavior has been met, instead with a restorative justice hearing that theoretically will guide the misbehaving student to positive outcomes. Unfortunately, most of the students consider restorative justice a joke and soon repeat their misbehavior, be it insubordination, disruption, or lateness. With the support of the UFT "Unity" leadership and also of MORE who actually has a social justice plank that includes restorative justice, I don't look for leadership by the union on this issue anytime soon. Therefore, look for violent incidents to continue to increase as the De Blasio administration weakens the student discipline code further and student disrespect of staff increases accordingly.