I am a teacher. I love my job. I love what I do. I love the school I work at. With that said, I believe there are so many issues right now plaguing our system and schools that there just simply isn’t a 1 single answer to fix it. It didn’t get this way overnight…thus it can’t be fixed overnight.
If we look at everything through the realm of data, then surely, if we truly love kids, 1 kid being bullied is too many. That data should be zero.
1 kid being bullied can lead to 1 kid committing suicide, or 1 kid harming 10, 20 or more other kids and adults by exacting revenge in a more violent rage.
Kids misbehaving has never changed. How they are dealt with has. Both at home and at school. We have spent so many years holding schools, teachers and districts accountable, thousands of hours analyzing and crunching data and spending millions on the newest and latest trendy idea from a consultant or expert that somewhere along the lines we forgot to hold children and parents accountable as well.
Yes, the home dynamic has changed. Yes many kids are poor and hungry. But we can not hide behind those excuses because doing the right thing has nothing to do with being poor or hungry.
There are so many issues and I am not an expert to offer valuable solutions. I’m just a teacher. On the front lines.
To make the changes that are necessary in our school district means leaders making tough, hard and often unpopular decisions and choices. Leaders are afraid to admit there are problems because that means admitting they made mistakes. There is an old saying “perception is reality” and if our leaders believe there is a perception problem…then I and the rest of the world should be able to conclude that YES…there is a problem.
Decisions should not be based anymore on skin color, or poverty level or gender or religion or whatever. They should be based on educational capabilities of children, including their ability to demonstrate a capacity to function and behave in an environment of educational practices. In other words, if a child has repeatedly shown they can not cease causing a disruption in a classroom or school, are prone to violent tendencies, are frequent violators of school policies and procedures…then before they can continue to be educated in a regular class environment, they should first be required to attend a specified amount of hours in social skills and norms training in a structured, disciplined setting until they prove they can meet expectations required of a student. If we are expected to teach kids social skills and how to function in a society…then we should be able to do so without policy dictated by political correctness (see tough choices above)
Perhaps we should mandate that no child may leave elementary school unless they are capable of reading at or above grade level. If they are 1 level below grade level then they are required to have a reading intervention class during each year until they are on grade level (meaning they must sacrifice electives) Anything greater than 2 then they must repeat. (Obviously some considerations will need to be made for Special Ed)
To keep this short, I offer one other change….return vocational schools. At the end of 8th grade…maybe even 9th, require all students to take a test and based on that test…determine if the kid can continue with a regular diploma in preparation for college; or attend high school with a designated career/vocational training path so they still get basic courses until sophomore year and then they begin reporting to vocational school for training for a job. They may not get a diploma but they have a “technical degree” which allows them to be hired full time after high school. To me…THAT’S being career ready…not what is in place now.
Again..these are not easy answers. They are ideas that will be shunned by those in leadership positions. Heck, they may not even be the right ideas. And by no means are they the ONLY ideas. But the bottom line is this…whatever is done is going to require tough decisions, by tough leaders who are not afraid to take a stand, to do what’s right, and do what’s different. Then, and only then…will the reality and perception of reality truly change.
* Identifying information has been removed from these letters. However, their source is not anonymous to Dear JCPS. JCPS Board members have been provided with a Dear JCPS liaison and are encouraged to contact us to validate, verify, and follow-up on any of the concerns or suggestions in these letters.