My wife is a teacher. She has been teaching for over 40 years now. When we were in Maryland, she taught at two different schools. One a rural school and one in Baltimore.

While she received extensive support from her admin while at the rural school, not so much in the Baltimore school.

Her most significant weakness, as a teacher, is not being able to command her classroom. She asked me to come and observe her at work in her classroom to give her feedback.

I was expecting to observe, I got put to work. My wife was the primary teacher, there was a secondary teacher and me in the classroom. There were 15 to 20 1st or 2nd graders.

What I observed was that the teachers would ask the children to do things. They would inform them that it was time to do something. They never gave an order. They never told the children what to do.

Not knowing any better, at one point I just said, “Sit Down.” 15 Second later, they were sitting where they were supposed to, attentive to the teachers.

There was no discipline in that classroom.

One year she was dealing with older students. She had run out of ideas for discipline. She couldn’t actually do anything.

I passed on a method I had learned from one of my employees, a former instructor at APG. “When a soldier needs to be disciplined, we’ll have them hold a quarter to the wall with their nose, their hands behind their back.”

My wife used it. Within a week, she had control of the classroom. No more tearful nights, wanting to give up teaching. Everybody in the classroom was better for her, having control over her students.

Wellll, all good things must come to an end. There were no complaints until a father got back from deployment, heard the “punishment” that was being used and blew a gasket. He went to the admin of the school and complained. The admin shrugged with it’s nothing, why are you so upset? He informed them that he learned about it in military training and there was no way his child was going to be treated like a soldier.

3 weeks later, the classroom was out of control.

When we got to New Hampshire, it was much better. When she started at her current school, it was wonderful. She had the full support of her admin, and classroom discipline was a part of the that.

Over time, that has changed. With the remote learning during the panic, it got worse.

Last year was pretty bad. This year has been worse.

It isn’t uncommon to hear her frustration of having had to clear her classroom because one student was acting out.

It isn’t uncommon to hear about “emergency” alerts being given to lock down the school because one of the animals was roaming the halls, destroying and disrupting.

It isn’t uncommon to hear about her having to comfort and help one of her friends and co-workers because an animal had ripped apart a classroom.

The school system is hemorrhaging teachers. Teachers are retiring that 2 years ago had no intention of retiring. Of course, the good ones go first.

I’ve heard stories of the Superintendent following one of these animals as they roamed the halls, trying to keep the child from disrupting other students. The good thing about that day? That student was suspended, for a day.

Federal intervention in school discipline policy became an issue of increasing importance beginning during the Obama administration. Based on the argument that differences in the rates of discipline for students of different racial groups was evidence of racism, the administration issued a “Dear Colleague” letter informing school districts that they needed to work to reduce gaps in suspensions for those of different racial backgrounds.
Will Flanders, Ameillia Wedward, Suspended Reality—The Impact of Suspension Policy on Student Safety (2021)

We aren’t the only people to notice.

Using data from several sources, including the WI Department of Public Instruction and the UW-Milwaukee survey of students, they found that lack of suspensions (discipline) is causing the schools to become increasingly dangerous.

  • Suspension Rates Declined in Milwaukee After Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) Agreement.
  • Reduced Suspension for African American Students Resulted in Lower Reports of Safety
  • Suspension Rates for Other Student Groups Change in a more “normal” manner.
  • African American Students Suffer the Most.
This research has important implications for policy makers at both the state and federal level. It shows there are real-world, negative implications from applying political correctness to school discipline standards. Moreover, students in the group that is ostensibly meant to be helped by relaxed discipline are actually the most likely to be harmed.
id.
… The ‘Dear Colleague’ Letter 1 stated that racial disparities—specifically for African American students—were found within school discipline numbers. The report noted suspension rates were “almost four times higher for black students than whites.” To address these disparities in suspension rates, the ‘Dear Colleague’ letter stated that district policies must do more than just ensure that students are treated equally to prevent violating federal anti-discrimination laws. …
id.

I’m told that the phrase “1350” is horribly racist. It refers to a claim that 13% of the population accounts for 50% of the crime. A more correct statement is that 6% of blacks account for 51% of all murders in the United States.

The problem with this statistic is that it is measuring based on numbers that could be misleading. Is that number of blacks that are proven to have murdered because society focuses on their crimes more? Is it that more blacks are falsely imprisoned? Is it some other unknown factor that causes these numbers to be so skewed?

The numbers say that it isn’t racism or “systemic racism”. The numbers and studies indicate that it is a result of behavior patterns that are group-centric.

Although large racial/ethnic disparities existed between stops and Census-based benchmarks when stop data was compared to benchmarks that better capture roadway usage and driving behavior, these reported disparities were significantly reduced and, in some cases, eliminated.
Robin S Engel & Jennifer Calnon Cherkauskas, 2021 Pennsylvania State Police Traffic Stop Study January 1 – December 31, 202, https://www.psp.pa.gov/data/Documents/CDR/CDR_2021.pdf

When behavior is considered, the stop rates are the same between the different groups.

The report I was looking for was a civil suit filed against the PSP claiming that they were racist in choosing who they stopped for speeding. The raw numbers said that the PA state police were stopping more black drivers than expected by census/population density.

Fortunately, they were doing some traffic camera testing at the same time. Turns out that the cameras, which aren’t racist, were flagging speeders at the same percentages as the PSP were stopping people.

All of this is to say, there are normally other reasons that different groups perform differently than “systemic racism”. The more likely reason that African American students were being suspended at higher rates than European American students was because of behavior difference, not racism.

The problem was that to reduce the suspension rate for African American students, they had to stop suspending everybody.

It became an action of last resort. It was ok that 29 kids were in the hallway, not learning because one “learner” was acting like an animal in a classroom. Being such a physical threat that the room had to be cleared.

But we can’t offend Aunt Suzie’s little darling. He might get mad and destroy your classroom.

Bibliography

Robin S Engel & Jennifer Calnon Cherkauskas, 2021 Pennsylvania State Police Traffic Stop Study January 1 – December 31, 202, https://www.psp.pa.gov/data/Documents/CDR/CDR_2021.pdf
Will Flanders, Ameillia Wedward, Suspended Reality—The Impact of Suspension Policy on Student Safety (2021)
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By awa

14 thoughts on “School Discipline”
  1. Years ago, I was working w/ school groups at a historical site. Every morning while the students were going through orientation, I would quietly ask one of the teachers which kids I should keep an eye on. Usually they would point out their problems. One time, a teacher gave me the line “We don’t like to stereotype our students that way”. Needless to say that was the worst group of the season. Totally disrespectful and out of control.

  2. Homeschooling or enrollment in a Private School if you want your child to learn and become a productive citizen.

  3. “heard the “punishment” that was being used and blew a gasket. He went to the admin of the school and complained.”
    That is the real problem, right there.
    .
    When I was a kid in school, if the teacher disciplined me, and my parents found out about it, I got a double dose at home. Now days, parents raise precious snowflakes that can do no wrong, and the entire nation is suffering for it. As soon as the school administration grows a pair and fights back against unreasonable parents, we might be able to get the education system back to education instead of babysitting.
    The correct response to the upset parent should have been “OK, if that is not acceptable, your child is suspended for the next three days. If the behavior continues, they are expelled for the rest of the term.”

    1. ^^ THIS ^^
      .
      Especially the last part. The schools’ official position needs to be, “If the in-classroom discipline is unacceptable to the parents, they are welcome to handle it at home. And if the child continues acting out, the parents can handle it at home permanently.”
      .
      [innocent voice] Oh, does that mean the parents might have to miss out on work to manage the out-of-class discipline? [/innocent voice]
      .
      Not the school’s problem. Get your kid in line or figure out how to make arrangements that don’t involve the school as a daycare service.
      .
      The long and short is, the schools and the parents need to be on the same page and working together as a team. If the parents are fighting the schools and teachers, the schools need to have the authority and spine to separate the problem children from the non-problem children. And if the parents can’t figure out how to HELP their kids’ teachers — or at least stay out of the way, which is not a big ask — then they can figure out how to BE their kids’ teachers.
      .
      (On a personal note, we homeschool now, but our oldest kids started out in public school, and while they were there my wife and/or I were volunteering in the classroom every week, grading assignments, collating worksheets into packets, helping run small activities, reading aloud, etc. A lot of the other kids’ parents did, too; there was rarely a time that didn’t have the teacher, an assistant teacher, and at least two parents [for those counting, that’s FOUR ADULTS overseeing about 25 kids]. Best school environment ever. We pulled them out when we had to change schools and the new administrators did NOT want parents in the classrooms AT ALL, and — shocker! — they were swamped with behavioral problems.)

      1. Further to that point, how much higher would scores on tests and academic achievement be if parents actually participated in their child’s education? Instead, they rush in and blame the teacher for a failure on a test.

        1. That, too. It goes back to that partnership between teachers and parents, the kind of thing PTA (Parent-Teacher Association) meetings used to help with … way back when they still had PTA meetings. (I can’t remember the last time any district we’ve lived in had such meetings, and my oldest are grown!)
          .
          If the parents and teachers are at odds, the kids don’t progress or advance like they could (or should). If they’re on the same page and supporting each other, the kids do great.
          .
          But that requires parents to engage and help out, and it’s much easier for these snowflake parents to put all the blame on the teachers when their snowflake kids melt under pressure.

          1. Many of today’s teachers don’t want parents involved because the parents would freak out over what the teachers are doing.

            Case in point, my nephew’s wife is a school teacher in Florida, and she’s fully on the whole trans/variable gender/no child is bad/we all must get along/only groups can achieve (no individual achievement)/everybody learns at the pace of the slowest in the class garbage that the teachers’ unions spout on about. So, of course, she thinks that Governor DeSantis is Evil Incarnate due to his (not the legislatures’, no, HIS) “Don’t Say Gay” laws…

            Have yet to meet the lovely braindead socialist twit. Would love to be trapped in a room with her for about 8 hours and see who comes out of the Gauntlet with their sanity and brain in check.

  4. Additional note, re: discipline is racist.
    .
    Just read something the other day, where (IIRC) Boston Hospital (or some hospital, medical authority in MA) is no longer reporting children born with drugs in their system to the authorities because disproportionately it is blacks that are giving birth to drug addicted babies.
    .
    Instead of solving the problem, they choose to hide the evidence because… children. That is what children do.

      1. RE: “Protect children OR avoid any hint of racism…”
        .
        We’re all aware of Planned Parenthood’s inception under founder Margaret Sanger, correct? She was a eugenicist, who believed black babies were inherently inferior, so her organization was started with the “unstated” goal of reducing the number of black babies. (They couched their mission statement in politically correct phrases like “helping poor mothers” and “reducing poverty”, stuff like that.) To this day, the most prolific PP centers are located in “underserved communities” (read: minority-populated areas) and black women as a population undergo many times more abortions than white women.
        .
        But pointing that out is RAAAY-CISSSSST!!!! and something only the icky Republicans do.
        .
        So for the Left, the options are “[Protect children OR kill children] AND avoid any hint of racism”. The latter can always be shifted onto conservatives.

      2. The interesting thing about this is that it will decrease “inequity” in reporting, but will *increase* “inequity” in a different outcome — childhood maltreatment, addiction, and mortality. Those kids who are not reported are already intoxicated at birth, and will be sent home with mothers who will see birth as permission to increase drug use. This means increased exposure of the infants to drugs, to toxic environments (e.g. getting into the drugs left on the coffee table, playing with syringes, etc.).
        .
        I know of a case where a mother was a drug addict who actively used methamphetamine and fentanyl while pregnant. She smoked meth while in labor at home (she never availed herself of free antenatal care). The EMTs took the child to the hospital, and the infant had a blood fentanyl and meth level high enough to kill some adults.
        .
        I live in a state where the child would not be sent back with the mother. However, under the Mass system, that child will be sent home with no reporting. If African-American mothers are more frequently positive than Caucasian mothers in that jurisdiction, then under the Mass General policy, it means more African-American infants will die or suffer harm. However, they will be able to blame that on someone else.
        .
        So much for “Do no harm.”

  5. When I was in high school, one of the Social Studies teacher was a former Marine. I had her twice: in 9th grade for World Cultures and 12th grade for AP. US Government. When I was in 9th grade, rumor was that if you misbehaved in her class, she’d make you do pushups, so NOBODY messed around in her class.

    Long story short, near the end of the year, one of my World Cultures classmates deliberately provoked her to see if the rumor was true. It was. She went full Drill Instructor on him, and he very willingly did the push-ups.

    ANOTHER STUDENT, who witnessed the incident, went home and complained to their parents, who called up the district administration and freaked out, and she was forbidden from ever punishing students in that manner again.

    However, being a Marine, she adapted, improvised, and overcame, and found a way to maintain discipline. First day of AP US Government, she marched to the front of the class, stood at perfect parade rest, and delivered the following monologue:

    “Good morning, Class. My name is Mrs. [REDACTED]. Some of you have been in my classes before. For those of you who have not, allow me to tell you a bit about my background. Prior to earning my teaching certification, I served with distinction in the United States Marine Corps, earned an officer’s commission, and was promoted to the rank of Captain. During my time in the Corps, I qualified on the M16A1 and A2 assault rifles, the M60 machine gun, the M2 .50-caliber heavy machine gun, the M203, the M72 light anti-tank weapon system, the M1911 .45 caliber pistol, and the M9 9mm pistol. I also received extensive training with the KA-BAR combat knife, and I know six ways to kill a man with my bare hands.

    “Welcome to A.P. US Government.”

    NOBODY messed around in that class!

  6. Two teachers for 20 kids? And they couldn’t control it? WTF is that insanity? 30+ years ago when I was elementary school it was 1 teacher with a class of anywhere between 20 and 30 kids. And there were no major discipline problems. Yeah, you had the bullies and the clowns, but you didn’t have a feral crotch goblin destroying the class room. The only class with more than one adult in it was the SPED class.

  7. Let’s not forget the retardation of zero tolerance and no child left behind. It was immensely obvious even 20 years ago that school was day care. It seems much worse now with the teachers being squuezed between the admin and the parents with no way to actually work.
    .
    My dad chaperoned a field trip in elementary school once. He was a large, burly, imposing guy at the time, wide as a brick shit house and at least twice as sturdy. He saw the trouble making kids and said to them “I’m not your teacher, you can’t get away with the same stuff with me” crazy those lids behaved the entire trip. It was elementary school and these kids didn’t have great home lives I now know so they acted out.
    .
    On one hand I get it, these parents are terrible. On the other hand I get it too, I’m not going to let my kid be subject to the capricious whims of a one size fits all system if they don’t deserve it.

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