"Educators Need Support"
By Capt. Fred Davis
Published: Friday, May 20, 2011

I guess everyone knows I’m a news hound. I find today’s news “clips” just so hard to grasp sometimes though as I watch them daily.

Recently, there was one about a school district in our country that was planning on issuing tickets to its students. The tickets would be for failing a class, tardiness, running in the halls, etc. This clip caused me to recall my school days.

When I was in school, all it took was a letter requesting a parent call the school, or worse yet, come to school to discuss a problem regarding my behavior. The end result could involve a belt and the seat of my pants. If the infraction was not too bad, the result might have been grounding for a specific amount of time, a week or two. If that didn’t correct the problem the grounding could be for a longer time; life was mentioned as I recall. Other punishments doled out were denying the use of the telephone or taking away my bike. Losing the use of the telephone never bothered me because there was only one in the house for our family of six, and with three sisters I seldom got to use it anyway. Losing my bike was really tough because I had paper routes. Yes, I said routes because it took more than one to provide enough spending money for me to buy the “special” clothing items I had to have.

One thing stands out in my memory of school days; the teachers were never wrong! The other absolute was after a parent visit to the school, the parent was always right and there was no discussion or chance for a plea bargain – a decision was FINAL.

As time moved along, the next generation of school kids were my own, and in just a short time major changes had taken place. Notes were no longer sent home, requests to discuss a student were made by phone, this way the note could not get lost. A big change was teachers had become more physical. I do remember when I was in school if I told my parents a teacher had hit me with a ruler or over the head with a book, their response was, “Did that teach you anything?”

However, when I learned my kids (four girls) were physically punished, (one of the events involved a male teacher pulling my daughter’s hair), I needed no invitation to visit the school. I was there in less time than it took to make a call.

I pulled the bully out of his room by his hair and by the time I left the school after talking to his superiors, it was certain he would not pull a student’s hair again. These were the days when a spanking was still not out of line but not by a teacher.

The next generation of teachers and students changed even greater. Teachers no longer sent notes home concerned there would be problems because teachers were often found to be at fault for a student’s misbehavior. Somehow, teachers had lost the respect once demanded by their profession. I’m not implying teachers are always right but I do not believe they should always be found at fault.

Currently teachers dare not touch a student or deliver any kind of punishment, yet parents expect them to be responsible for the behavior of those students who receive no guidance at home. Why are teachers always judged to be wrong? Is it any wonder with that line of thought and shrinking paychecks, there is no longer a line of graduates applying for jobs as educators.

Excerpt from the White House press office, released May 3, 2011 (www.whitehouse.gov/issues/education): “Teachers are the single most important resource to a child’s learning. President Obama will ensure they are supported as professionals in the classroom, while also holding them accountable. He will invest in innovative strategies to help teachers improve student outcomes, and use rewards and incentives to keep talented teachers in schools that need them the most. The President’s plan will invest in a national effort to prepare and reward outstanding teachers, while recruiting the best and brightest to the field of teaching. President Obama will challenge state and school districts to remove ineffective teachers from the classroom. The President wants to have the highest proportion of students graduating from college in the world by 2020.”

The President’s plan seemed like a good idea to me. Then I spoke to a few teachers who interpreted aspects of it differently. One said that if a merit system is adopted which student, if you were a teacher with the plan in place, would you prefer having in your class.

No. 1: One who runs the street all night, has no parental guidance, perhaps carries a weapon to school, is frequently in trouble with local law enforcement and is often absent...


No. 2: One whose parents guide them, provide a caring home and find a tutor if they have difficulty with a class, a student who actually knows what manners and consideration of others are...

She asked if the instructor of both kinds of students should be judged and paid based on the same system. I think not, I responded.

As I see it, sending a student home with a ticket that will likely go unpaid will not improve our education system and it surely will not boost school budgets measurably. The most beneficial idea I have heard is to judge instructors on their presentations to the students and not expect them to fill the role as parents, no matter what they are paid.



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