Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Tie My Hands Even More

To begin with, I may send one or two students to the office in a school year.  I teach upper-level math classes, well beyond the minimum needed to graduate and even above the minimum needed for admission to most 4-year universities, so the vast majority of my students are college-bound.  To be honest, such students are not near as likely to be troublesome in class as would, say, a senior in an Algebra 1 class.  Such a statement could conceivably enrage certain types of people, but most who have ever spent more than a week in a classroom know that what I'm saying is not only reasonable, but factual.

It just is.

But whatever classes I teach, I want to know that I can remove students who are disruptive or blatantly defiant.  Do I really need to explain or justify why it has to be that way?  Or can we just accept it as clearly as we accept breathing air and gravity?  Because anyone who isn't convinced of the veracity of the statement a priori probably isn't going to change his or her mind; we would call such a person a "true believer" in whatever failed ideology or pedagogy to which they cling.

There are things my teachers did to me and/or my classmates that were considered eminently reasonable then but border on child abuse and lawsuits today.  That we can't do so many of those things today is, in some cases, probably a good thing, but in other cases all that's happened is that teachers' hands have been tied and students allowed to run a bit more wild.

And it's going to get worse as this trend picks up steam:
One reason for the suspension, according to Hernandez, was what’s commonly referred to as “willful defiance.” One of many justifications California teachers can invoke to banish wayward students from classrooms, the practice has drawn scrutiny from educators, civil rights advocates and legislators who say it is overused.

Adding to the growing backlash is a resuscitated Assembly Bill 420, by Assemblyman Roger Dickinson, D-Sacramento, that would ban expulsions based on willful defiance and prohibit willful defiance suspensions for the youngest California students, those in kindergarten through third grade...

California’s education code lists dozens of reasons to suspend or expel students. Among them are instances where a student “disrupted school activities or otherwise willfully defied the valid authority” of teachers and administrators. Statistics from the state’s Department of Education show that willful defiance was listed as a reason in 43 percent of the 609,776 suspensions handed down in the 2012-13 academic year.

That isn’t to say it is the sole factor spurring those suspensions. Administrators often list willful defiance as one in a universe of related infractions. Hernandez’s principal said the student was punished only after a pattern of misbehavior that administrators tried unsuccessfully to correct. Principal Bruce Bivins refrained from getting into specifics but said the case was more complex than a student talking back to a teacher...
Of course, racial disparity is the reason given for watering down the issue of willful defiance.  And from there we go on to "institutionalized racism" or "unconscious bias".  Isn't it more likely that a teacher would have a conscious bias against crappy behavior rather than a mythical bias against people because of their skin color?  NEA and AFT, are your unions really so full of bigots?

Turns out the unions, left-wing and progressive as they are, aren't too ready to kick their members' hornet nest to score some liberal bona fides:
California’s two teachers’ unions, the California Teachers Association and the California Federation of Teachers, have adopted neutral positions on Dickinson’s bill.

“We share with the author of the bill a concern that in some school districts there may be patterns of disparate treatment of certain students, and such practices must end wherever they exist,” said Fred Glass, a spokesman for the teachers federation, but “the teacher has a responsibility for the education of all her students, and if one student consistently prevents students from learning, there has to be a remedy available.”
I'll agree that you can't fix the problem until you identify the underlying cause.  The difficulty, though, is that those who push these silly so-called fixes refuse to admit, or even to consider, what is obviously the underlying cause, and that cause is a culture amongst certain groups in this country, a culture in which people don't value education, don't respect authority, and don't consider anyone other than oneself.

You want to see that culture in action?  Turn on the news in the morning and watch the prior evening's events in Ferguson, MO.


Anonymous said...

Amen, brother.

maxutils said...

willful defiance ...I've never experienced it, and I suspect it's overused. and, in particular towards minorities.

Anonymous said...

Various kinds of socioeconomic integration programs bring that culture into middle/upper-middle class schools and neighborhoods. I know black families who are particularly bitter about this, because their kids (particularly the boys) are targets for taunts of "oreo", "sellout" and the like. One family had to send their son to a private school to get him away from that culture, after a couple of miserable years during which he acquired that bad attitude and bad grades. In less than a semester at a Catholic HS (and he wasn't Catholic), he was back to being the happy, well-behaved, good student he had formerly been. BTW, the Catholic school had a higher percentage of black and Hispanic kids than did his zoned HS, but they were all well-socialized kids who were there to get a good education - away from the bad apples who wanted to spoil the rest

Anonymous said...

maxutils: The kid I mentioned had the willful defiance down pat: a chip on his shoulder the size of Gibralter, sullen, mouthy, uncooperative, disrespectful, rude to all and an all-around pain the the backside - and that was on an athletic team he had joined (couple of years prior). After a season of his misbehavior (and lack of effort), he was thrown out of one practice before his dad could park the car and then off the team. Elite sports don't tolerate that. Fortunately, he didn't fall too far behind on skills (or academics) that he couldn't make things up, once he got his act together.

maxutils said...

Not saying it doesn't happen ...I've just never experienced it.

maxutils said...

and ... that's not quite true. I did one year at high school ... primarily hiss panic, and irritated at everything. I just gave them the opportunity for extra help, but failed most of them. A very depressing year.

maxutils said...