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U.S. public schools: Where rebellion rules

Posted By Kyle Williams On 05/15/2004 @ 1:00 am In Commentary | Comments Disabled

This past week, a nationwide survey was released showing how rowdy and undisciplined students are interrupting the learning environment in many public schools. The survey, released by the Public Agenda organization, blames a few persistent troublemakers for public learning woes.

Yet, what makes this situation in today’s public schools different from the previous classroom environments in American history is how parents are now supporting the behavior of their unruly children.

UPI reports: “The middle-school and high-school teachers surveyed said today’s misbehaving students are quick to remind them that students have rights and their parents can sue for them.”

Thus, teachers are quick to second-guess when administering discipline to American teens. Unfortunately, this lack of command in the classroom truly does pollute the environment. It gives leeway to anyone who wants to crack a joke. You know the kind; the one in the back who always wanted to be smart. He was always in a race for class clown.

In the past, these types were punished harshly. Now, however, Daddy the lawyer and Mommy the doctor, who barely know their children, don’t want to deal with suspensions, swats and the like. They would much rather blow a few dollars on a lawyer and set precedents that will destroy American schools.

Such was the case in a New York middle school. Last month, as the Associated Press reports, “An openly gay teenager received a $30,000 settlement from the city over her suspension for wearing a ‘Barbie is a Lesbian’ T-shirt to school, her attorney announced. …”

The teen’s parents hired the hotshot, New York City lawyer Ron Kuby, claimed the incident was discriminatory and won big. But at what price? I’m not talking about monetary loss here. I’m talking about a precedent being set where hardworking teachers are getting their hands tied, unable to discipline students.

Yet, discipline is required! In a proper learning environment, students must be disciplined. For a teenager especially, they need to hear who’s boss. When teachers let up, the classroom transforms from a learning environment into a rowdy circus.

From my experience in school, it was obvious the best teachers were the ones who coupled strong authority with their care and desire to see students learn. While some detested the class because of its discipline, students gained knowledge and understanding.

The teachers who didn’t want to bother with creating a proper learning environment were left with a class filled with disrespectful students who wanted nothing more than a free hour. Unfortunately, many of these teachers did let up their authority and most days, half of school was spent napping in the back.

Part of the reason teachers act in such a manner is because they’re jaded. The public school system has turned into a day-care center where absentee parents drop the crew off at 8 and pick them up at 3. Or better yet, watch the yellow school bus pick them up and drop them off.

This reality hurts many teachers who want nothing more than to serve. Other teachers are just bad at what they do.

Adding to these problems is a society that exalts rebellion. Teens pick this up in the lyrics streaming through speakers, the tube in the living room and the flicks projected onto the wide screen. America’s young people also pick this up from uninvolved parents.

The very reason some teens are unruly is because their parents aren’t involved. More than that, because their parents are not involved, many don’t want to do deal with the punishment, so they allow their kids to continue.

The key aspect of this breakdown is how some parents will back their unruly kids up with litigation – which is setting precedents that will begin to turn schools into completely unproductive institutions. I don’t pretend to understand why some parents do this. Maybe they don’t express their love well and believe such action will help.

Whatever the case, the exaltation of rebellion in the life of an average teen, the teachers who won’t or can’t discipline, the uninvolved parents and the legal support of disruptive students are all breaking down American schools.

When will it end?


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