A major reason that schools are struggling with student discipline is the Department of Education's (DOE) unwillingness to hold students accountable for their actions. Before Tweed came about the old Board of Education would transfer problem students from their home school and admiring friends to a school where the student would travel long distances and have no friends to help cause trouble. In turn, that school would send their problem students to the first school. This involuntary transfer system, while not perfect, had the desired effect by isolating the troubling student and removing from the school the worst discipline problems. This consequence was not lost on many students and after the removal of these problem students, the school would settle down into a more academic environment.
However, the Tweed DOE does not allow for involuntary transfers anymore. A problem student can rape, rob, assualt, threaten, and commit all sorts of crimes. Once that student has completed their suspension/sentence, they go right back to their school and hookup with their friends to reap more havoic upon the student population. Incredible you say. Well believe it. Under the Tweed DOE the rights of the one is more important than the rights of the many. Is it any wonder that the New York Public School System suffers from academic problems? It's tough for even the best teachers to maintain classroom control and an academic environment when these students reappear from prison and threatens both the students and the teacher.
Another problem is student violations of the student discipline code that does not have a consequence to the student's continued disregard of the regulations. Here is a typical example from my school.
My school has a three strikes and your out policy. On the third strike the student gets a week of after-school detention (ASD) which all students hate. Sounds good? Well, here is the problem. What if the student does not want to attend the ASD? Well in my school nothing and the street-wise delinquents know it. The DOE has told school administrators that they cannot add ASD to students who refuse to go to ASD in the first place. Instead they want the schools to offer more consuling and understanding of these poor souls. Remember, under their oversight no child is bad, only misunderstood. Of course they don't have to deal with them.
Further, the DOE emphasizes attendance over school safety. It's more important to get the delinquents in school then to provide a safe, academic environment to the rest of the student body. So what that the school's resources are eaten up by increasing school safety officers, deans, and hallway aides that could be used in the classroom. The DOE does not care. No , their prority is to improve attendance and get as much money from the State as possible. Academics? Don't bother the DOE with that, that's the classroom teacher's responsibility. A case in point. In the high schools the students must report to school for the morning of June 14th even though the afternoon Regents are that day. Will there be any classroom teaching? Of course not and the DOE knows that. They just want to squeeze money from the State. This shows all to well the DOE priority, attendance!
As a classroom teacher the worst enemy of good academic performance is not the right-wing voucher supporters or the left-wing political correctness crowd, its the Tweed DOE who stifles a true learning environment by placing problem students back into their old schools and pushing attendance over school safety.
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