LA TIMES EDITORIAL
The result is that behavior problems frustrate teachers and hinder motivated students in many
Consider the following: A boy sexually harassed a girl at Marina del Rey Middle School last year, so his teacher reported his behavior to his mother. Mom's response? She burst into the classroom and gave everyone the finger.
Then there's the case of the
In 1994, the
Worse, implementing the plan will take three to five years. That's way too long, and it ensures that many more teachers, weary of their jobs and harassed by students, will leave the district, deepening its malaise.
Studies show that well-run schools have a few items in common: Their administrators walk the campus. Their students help set campus rules, and those rules are enforced. Teacher discipline is backed up by principals, and principals' actions are supported by the central office.
Charter schools have an advantage in this area, with leeway to boot unruly students (and their parents) that regular schools lack. Nonetheless, some of their methods can be adapted.
Steve Barr, founder of Green Dot charter schools, contends that discipline must be strictly and consistently applied. Green Dot, for instance, bars gang members, regardless of their academic aptitude. One brilliant, straight-A student was required to leave, Barr said, because his presence endangered others by gang members coming to look for him after school.
This leads to an aspect of discipline reform that L.A. Unified should consider — removing troublesome or troubling students to either a different part of the campus or a separate location entirely. Discipline policies embraced by
It also shows that school officials, from the top down, are serious about school rules. Without that, teachers leave and schools fail.
LETTERS: School discipline, but how?
The editorial misrepresents the efforts of the LAUSD to improve its district discipline policy. This policy does not eliminate any established disciplinary procedures for addressing disruptive behavior, but it emphasizes proactive strategies for defining, teaching and supporting appropriate student behaviors. This approach, which is well grounded in research, has been successfully implemented in districts nationwide and is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as an effective practice.
Unfortunately, the editorial board has taken a stance that harsher punishment is the only answer to disruptive behavior. The board has only to look to the recent findings of the gang violence report to see that punishment has not been successful. Public education has an obligation to teach and model the appropriate social behaviors that will help students to be contributing members of our society.
Too often we hear "educrats" and politicians debate school reform without mentioning the civic responsibilities of students and parents. Each new proposal paints itself as the panacea that will bring excellence to education, yet our schools continue to struggle not for excellence but for simple adequacy.
Although few reasonable people would wish a return to the days when teachers brought rulers down across students' knuckles, it is clear that something must be done to persuade students to respect their teachers, themselves and their peers by behaving appropriately in the classroom. And parents must step up and accept their responsibilities.
I suggest that
Your editorial suggests that L.A. Unified remove "troublesome or troubling students" from regular schools and place them in separate locations, referring to discipline policies "embraced" in
Many discipline sites and so-called Second Opportunity Schools in
To make L.A. Unified safer and more productive, schools need better training and support for staff to prevent and resolve conflict, along with access to mediation and counseling to address the causes of student behavior and keep kids in school.
Education program director
National Economic and
Social Rights Initiative
I taught in a district adjacent to