Response to ‘School Discipline Reform Didn’t Create Florida Shooter’

I agree 100 percent with Lydia Nussbaum’s commentary in the Review- Journal’s March 31, 2018 edition, “School Discipline Reform Didn’t Create Florida Shooter;” however the harmony ends there. She believes this “PROMISE” program has merit. This program has absolutely no value.

I also agreed with the American Psychological Association on “Zero Tolerance,” it removes the ability for us to make common sense judgments. However, the conclusion that exclusionary punishment not only deprives students of classroom learning time, it contributes to higher drop-out rates and fails to deter student misconduct, is irrelevant.

How is it possible for any program to have any value where the intent is for the school is to “Safeguard the student from entering the judicial system?” Shouldn’t it be the intent of the student and their family to keep them out of jail? The drop-out rate is irrelevant because the drop-out rate is the responsibility of the parents not the schools. When our education system realizes this, our education system will have taken the first step on the road to recovery.

Lydia continued with how this program targets a particular problem, “Over-reliance on suspension and expulsion for nonviolent behavior.” A vast majority (95%) of suspensions are issued for minor infractions, such as disrupting class, violating dress codes and tardiness. “The consequences of such automatic, exclusionary discipline on students are severe and largely counterproductive.” This is only true if your focus is on the wrong issue.

If you focus on the drop-out rate verses the drop-in rate, expulsions become a real problem. However, of those 95% of minor infractions, a vast majority of them are from repeat offenders, who many times become those violent offenders. It is now a right for all children to have an education; so it should go without saying that children who are consistent disrupters in the classroom are taking away the right of those in their class.  And shouldn’t that be the most critical of concerns for our education organization?

The article also wrote the “PROMISE” program will “Limit exclusionary discipline only to violent and criminal behavior.” They will no longer “Banish” students who talk back or dress inappropriately or are perceived simply as disruptive. Why? Apparently disciplining students alienates them and makes them more likely to attack teachers, administrators, and other students. Actually this will only take place if you continue to allow these students to come back without any change in behavior.

What the article fails to enlighten us with is that no student is “automatically” suspended, let alone expelled for any of those infractions; however, it does not explain what “disrupting class” actually is, which many times is a violent disruption. Most of all, it does not advise us as to the amount of class time wasted on these disruptions; class time thrown away for those students who sincerely desire to learn; it seems no one really cares about these students.

My personal favorite is the “restorative justice” principles. The article says “restorative justice” has been wrongly cataloged as a failure to respond to misconduct. If utilized appropriately, it will keep students engaged and hold them accountable for their actions. First, “restorative justice” is never really explained or defined, and secondly there seems to be no consequences. To keep one accountable for one’s actions there must be consequences.

Our public schools waste so much time and money to find different ways to fix and improve education; yet the more time and money we spend, the worse it gets. The simple truth is: if you want better education we need to stop spending and get “Back to the Basics.”  Students need to be accountable for the actions as well as their grades.

Adults need to be adults and be in charge, and students need to be students and listen and be respectful. Doing this would be the beginning of a successful program, not these foolish acronyms like “PROMISE” that may sound impressive, but are as successful as all of the others.

Jim Blockey
Retired Teacher



Response to ‘School Discipline Reform Didn’t Create Florida Shooter’

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