Despite announcing my candidacy for the chancellor's job in yesterday's post, I have yet to hear from Mayor Bloomberg. I suspect he is just being coy. Or perhaps he's waiting for Governor Patterson to appoint Caroline Kennedy to the vacant US Senate seat, which is now apparently a done deal. The mayor knows I am a strong proponent of Ms. Kennedy, and waiting for her to take office would give him the political cover necessary to make the bold decision to appoint someone who actually knows something about education as chancellor.
Whatever the case, it's time to shore up my candidacy by introducing step two of my plan to fix the schools: Enforce discipline.
Now, the mayor might argue that the schools already have an elaborate disciplinary code (by which I mean it weighs more than a Harry Potter novel). But the enforcement system is so convoluted that the only way the code would have any real effect on discipline is if you rolled it up and threatened to strike a student over the head with it.
My proposal is much simpler: Put the needs of the many ahead of the needs of the few. The vast majority of students have at least the basic skills needed to function in a classroom. Yet there are always a few who simply can not control themselves. Our traditional method of dealing with these kids is to give a phone call home, a referral to the AP or dean, or in extreme cases, an in-school suspension, during which they can pal around with their miscreant friends. Then, they are returned to the classroom where they can start the process of disrupting the education of the rest of their classmates all over again.
I don't propose a sea change in handling discipline. Teachers should handle all of the problems they can through traditional methods, and then send the problem up the ladder. But when it becomes clear that one or two students are preventing the others from learning, we need to begin--drumroll--suspending them out of school.
Yeah, yeah, I know. These students have rights. Unfortunately, these students also trample all over the rights of kids who come to school to learn. When rights come into conflict, someone has to win and someone has to lose. I propose that the losers should be the rule-breakers for a change. Send them home and let their parents deal with them. Trust me, when parents have to start missing work or other activities, you'll see their children straighten up and fly right pronto.
I'm not unsympathetic to children who have ADD, ADHD, CCCP, or any of the other acrostic maladies that prevent them from functioning in a regular classroom. But if they have such issues, they should be helped in an appropriate environment, and not be allowed to use their problems as an excuse to run rampant in a classroom.
This could all take place easily if we did one simple thing--stop punishing schools who suspend students. The number of suspensions shows up on those idiotic school report cards, giving principals a disincentive to suspend anyone for anything less than class A felonies. As things stand now, we actually reward principals for NOT reporting serious incidents. Whoever thought up that idea should be battered about the head and neck with a rolled up copy of the discipline code.