School Discipline – Yes

Based upon my experience as a student and as a teacher, there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that consistently applied discipline can and will help to raise the performance of all students, especially in the core courses. Several key factors must be kept in mind in developing a behavior management plan. One of the most important of those factors must be understood by faculty and administration and, most importantly, by the students themselves, that being the underlying reasons for the implementation of a behavior management plan.

The primary concern for any and all teachers in any school you chose to discuss is, without qualification, the educational process and delivery of that process to every and all students. The classroom is not an alternative baby sitting service supplied by the state, county or private institutions for the benefit of those families wherein both parents are either employed or, for other reasons, unable to direct, support and discipline the education of their offspring. It is and must be, based on the directive implied and expressed by taxpayer dollars, a place of learning. I underline again, a safe place where learning is supported and encouraged for all students.

The key issue that all faculty, administration and students must understand is that any behavior on the part of a student, or anyone for that matter, which directly of indirectly interferes with the educational process and deprives students of the opportunity to learn can and has been considered a violation not only of school policy but of the law itself.

A case in point will demonstrate the full meaning of this statement. A Florida High School abutted the private property of a homeowner who, probably without intending to do so, disturbed several classes in session when he, a retired laborer, decided to power mow his lawn during school hours. When the complaint was initially transmitted to him by an administrator of the school, he reacted by saying that he had every right to mow his lawn at his discretion. The school decided, after several attempts to work the problem out, even to the extent of having a few students volunteer to mow his lawn for him, to take the matter to a local court. Once the matter was presented from the perspective of the students absolute right to an education, especially given the fact that the neighbor had contributed financially to the support and implementation of that right through payment of his property taxes, the matter was quickly and quietly laid to rest. In fact, the neighbor, since school property abutted his and since no fence separated the respective properties, began and continued from that point to mow a segment of school property in addition to his own but did so outside of school hours.

If a student enters class and falls asleep because he or she is required to help support the family with after school employment, that is a problem that can be corrected with respect for the student . But when a student, through loud talk or deliberate prodding of other students disrupts the teachers presentation or perhaps the work of students who are in the process of completing assigned work either in or out of class, that student, like the neighbor who mowed his lawn is interrupting the educational process and stealing from his or her fellow students. Bullying is an extreme explicit example of this type of problem. Planned discipline needs to occur as swiftly and quietly as possible and should be sequenced as follows. A quiet eye contact warning should be followed by an equally quiet verbal reminder. If at that point, the interruptive behavior either does not cease or increases in intensity, the student should be asked to leave the room.

When a student is asked to leave the room they should be sent to an area, preferably a classroom, reserved for in school suspension, manned by people who are trained to deal with that type of situation in a way that benefits not only the disrupted classroom but the offending student him or herself. It is a given that many of the students frequently found in in school suspension and/or, ultimately, in alternative education either at their home school or another school reserved solely for that purpose, have arrived at that status by choice because they believe they have avoided the pressure of having to face an educational process they want no membership in. Treatment wise is the phrase used in some circles to describe this attitude. The administration of any and all school systems and especially the counseling staff must be trained and experienced in dealing with this type of attitudinal deficit.

Without firm, consistently and compassionately applied discipline, the students will quickly find themselves in command and the educational process will, without fail, become one of the lowest priorities. Let me close my response with a simple, straight forward statement. For high school students educated here in the United States in 2010, consistent discipline is not optional. It is an absolute requirement that must be in place for the duration of the educational process and can be lifted on a student basis if, and I underline only if, the student demonstrates long term, equally consistent self discipline as it is manifest in self directed learning, completion of independent projects and effective use of solo and group study time.