Upon reading WDRB’s article “JCPS student discipline policies may ease,” I have concluded that I will have no choice but to seek employment elsewhere. This further confirms the suspicion that Dr. Hargens does not actually care about improving the situation in JCPS; rather, she cares about the public’s perception of improvement.
I normally tell my students that numbers don’t lie but in this case they do. According to the numbers, JCPS suspensions are down this year, however, that data has been purposefully reduced. School administrators are facing pressure at the district level to decrease discipline numbers; in turn, school administrators are not responding to the behavior issues that are present in their schools. Students who curse at staff and other students receive one period of ISAP and are right back in the classroom the next day. Students who refuse to step out of the classroom for a hallway conference (a piece of the restorative practices that JCPS claims are working so very well) are right back in the classroom the next day. Students who threaten to kill staff members are placed in a different classroom instead of being referred to an alternative school setting.
How am I supposed to protect my students’ right to learn when misbehavior is continuously met with no consequences? How am I supposed to create a safe learning environment when students can be met with sexual misconduct, profanity, and constant disruptions from students who fail to follow the rules…and receive no consequences? There is a quote from an earlier article on WDRB from Mike Raisor which states “…I wouldn’t want something I did as a prank when I was 15-years-old to determine the rest of my life.” This statement indicates youthful innocence and lack of foresight is behind the behaviors, however, a large number of students who misbehave consistently do so out of the clear understanding that there are few consequences for them. To quote one such young person, “Go ahead and send me to the AP office—they’re not going to do anything to me.”
While it is my responsibility to educate my students in my subject matter, it is the overall school experience’s responsibility to educate students in the ways of the world. We need to stop thinking of students as these “other entities” who need coddling and remind ourselves of what will occur once students turn 18 and enter into the “real world”—very real consequences for things that would have resulted in a conference and a “don’t do it again” at school. A police officer, a supervisor, a college professor, etc. is not going to care that an adult “has anger issues” or “was just playing around.” By easing discipline policies, we are widening the gap between school and reality, to the detriment of those people that Dr. Hargens claims to have the best intentions for—the students.
Fed up teacher