A teacher speaks out: ‘A’ penalty for schools

School Desk
We received this viewpoint via email. The author asked to be anonymous out of fear of repercussions. I’m running it because it expresses concerns without attacking any one person or persons. For other teachers in the Escambia County school system who follow this blog, do these words ring true? Email your thoughts to rick@inweekly.net

“A” penalty for schools.

There are times when achievement backfires. Often job seekers are told to omit training or degrees to avoid being “over-qualified”. Sometimes doing a great job can mean having the workload grow exponentially. Or, as is the case for “A” schools in this district, it means being sent hardest cases and inundated with often low achieving students from failed schools. You see, the way it works now, any student from an “F” school can choose to attend an “A” school. On the surface this makes sense, create a balance and give those who had poor education access to something of higher quality. In practice, however, it destroys the foundations that allowed that school to achieve “A” status.

In addition to a lack of skills, these students often come with behavior issues and a lack of respect for authority. This influx of unruly students coupled with the superintendent’s drive to bring down suspension statistics puts administrators and teachers in a precarious and at times dangerous situation. Teachers have been assaulted, property damaged, other students threatened, and the learning environment compromised. All the while, well-intending school administrators are being pressured to avoid suspending students so that the district “numbers” are good. There is added fear if the child acting up is a minority that punishing them will be deemed “racism”.

Students who commit serious infractions are often not suspended or given proper consequences for disruptions out of fear that increased suspension data will make the school and/or district look bad. The REAL message to children is ACTING badly gets them out of work, attention from peers, and few (if any) consequences. So go ahead, leave class, throw chairs, talk back, hit your teacher, staff or a classmate, no one’s really going to do anything! Doing so will create a record of behavioral actions that could damage the school’s reputation and risk funds that are earned for being an “A” school.

By the way, the latest tactics some administrations use to avoid having a school’s “data” show “too many” suspensions or referrals are to either ignore teachers’ reports or give students “home time-out” or “other class time-out”. What is the difference you may ask? Statistics…these forms of punishment don’t count as suspensions so don’t get counted in the schools’ data. Therefore, the school won’t be adversely affected by statistics showing a high number of behavioral issues regardless of how dangerous the school may actually be.

I recall the days of corporal punishment in school & at home. The message that getting a paddling sent was not, ‘it is okay to hit someone’, but rather ‘there are boundaries and you must respect them’. Today, the system is fostering a vicious cycle in which educational time is disrupted by the few and the other children are being shown that misbehaving DOES pay. The irony is that the teachers and administrator, who are trying to teach students not to bully, are themselves being bullied!!! This is affecting not just high schools or middle schools, actually the situations I am most worried about are happening in elementary schools.

Next time you ask your child, “how was school?” please realize that they may not tell you the WHOLE story.

Elementary educator and concerned citizen
who would prefer to remain anonymous for fear of repercussions