DISCIPLINE AND ACADEMIC STANDARDS
Maybe America is waking up to the fact that we have
raised a generation of children who have been taught
that they are the center of the universe, filled with a sense of
entitlement that comes to those whose self-esteem has been puffed artificially
by both home and school. Such
children are not prepared to do school as we have historically understood that
term. With nanosecond attention
spans stunted by young lives saturated by media, with little ability to
subordinate their desires to the needs of others, with an underdeveloped
appreciation of the difference between adults and children, they pose a unique
set of challenges to schools that are ill-prepared to cope with them.
When the Wall
explores the problem and treats the public schools experiencing it
sympathetically, something serious is going on.
In my role as advocate for the membership of the
PCT, I have of late tried to focus our school community on our need to address
the very different needs of these children, not the least of which is their lack
of self-discipline. From
kindergarten through the high school grades, teachers have been asking their
union to help them move administration and the Board of Education to work with
us to make our schools more structured and orderly learning environments.
Listening to our members talk about the lack of discipline in our
schools, hearing them talk of a generation of students many of whom don’t
really know that it is necessary to talk differently to adults, especially
adults in a position of authority, than to ones peers, I have become convinced
that unless we help our young people get better control of themselves, attempts
to have higher academic expectations and standards are ultimately doomed to
failure. When we think about
it, all formal education is ultimately about self-discipline.
Recent events have confirmed my view.
At the recent Northeast Conference of the National Educational
Association (NEA), I had the opportunity to meet with many colleagues from
diverse districts from
As evident as the
ubiquity of the problem of undisciplined students is the apparent lack of focus
of schools, teacher unions and communities on the need to address the issue.
I’m very proud
that the PCT is trying to tackle the issue. In
recent weeks, we have met with the superintendent of school and board of
education, urging them to confront this issue with us.
We’ve reached out to our parent organization, recognizing that without
the cooperation of the parent community attempts to reform our approach to
discipline is bound to meet with opposition.
We’ve started a dialogue, union to union, with the building
administrators’ organization, hoping to work with them to brainstorm solutions
to our common problem.
The good news for Plainview-Old Bethpage is that there appears to be broad consensus about the nature and extent of the discipline problem in our schools. In the months ahead, we will be working to build a coalition to support efforts to create schools where students are required to develop the self-discipline central to learning.
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