Sunday, May 19, 2013


I just don't get it.

A male student in one of the local high schools gets mad at his teacher during the class period, refusing to do what she asked of him.  He then interrupts the class by "cussing her out." (His words).  He is suspended for willful defiance.  Later he says, "Getting suspended doesn't solve anything.  It just ruins the rest of the day and keeps you behind."

Right here I start being confused.

Interestingly, he then says he likes chemistry and wants to become a doctor.  He also has been a problem student since his first year in junior high school.

Now it appears that a new method of choice for handling such issues has been approved in this school district.  It is a process called "restorative justice" which aims to keep the child in school, and it involves the teacher, the student, some letter writing back and forth, some apologies from both teacher and student, and a sharing of letters with the class.  This "restorative justice" can be done immediately after the outburst (no sending to the office to have the problem ironed out) and overall takes about 45 minutes of time to accomplish.

One student's remark afterwards was "Me and the teacher were friends by the end of the day."

That may be, but the other 30 kids in the classroom lost learning time.  And, I might remind everyone that the real working world into which the mouthy student is going to find himself does not operate on "restorative justice."  You mouth off at your boss, you're history!  Who is learning about authority and respect?

I have read the pros and the cons on this.  Hanging over the problem and any answer is a "civil rights" issue, which is certainly complicating any solution.  But yesterday I read the decision has been made to toss out suspension for willful defiance and replace it with the "restorative justice" program.  Here's the way I see: teachers must be trained now on behavior modification, a psychological treatment approach, based on the principles of operant conditioning, that replaces undesirable behaviors with more desirable ones.  Ahhhh. 

Today's schools are finding that teaching one's ABC's is second fiddle.  That respect for teachers and/or authority is passe'.  Let's face it: Kids Rule!

I still don't get it!

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