Can't we find a happy medium?
I was browsing through the blogosphere, and came upon a site called Schools Matter, and ran into this piece on KIPP Schools. I then went to the article about the the KIPP School in Atlanta where some parents pulled their kids out of the school because of what they considered harsh discipline. One student, in a group that was made to go and sit by themselves, wet her pants when she was not allowed to go to the bathroom, and another ended up vomiting. KIPP Schools have a reputation for harsh punishments and humiliation, and even though they are publicly funded, they can get away with that because charter schools are given special leeway by the states. As I read, I couldn't help thinking, "Why can't we have a happy medium?"
I have been lucky this year, but like most traditional public school teachers, there have been many times that I've had to tolerate behavior that I should never have had to tolerate. I did that, because I felt like I didn't have any other choice. I mean there are only so many times you can kick a kid out of class and send him (or her) to the office. Although I haven't had any blatantly disruptive kids this year, I do have kids whose effort is pathetic, and of course, I have to put up with that. We are now in our last marking period, and I'm stuck with two young men who have failed all first three marking periods and show no sign of doing anything different this one. I also have a couple of students who are woefully underachieving, and of course, there's nothing I can do about that other than send deficiency slip after deficiency slip to the parents.
I have no desire to humiliate any students, and I have no desire to bludgeon any students into performing. KIPP Schools have a reputation for producing fantastic test scores, and if it takes harsh punishments and humiliation to do that, and if that's what parents who send their kids to those schools want, I'm not going to knock them. But I teach in a traditional public school, and I'm not looking for fantastic scores; I'm just looking for good solid ones. I just want every kid in our school who wants a good education to be able to get one. If KIPP Schools are going to be allowed to do the things they do, and they are getting the results they are by doing that, wouldn't it make sense to give those of us in traditional public schools just a little more power? Wouldn't it make sense to allow us to demand that kids behave reasonably and make a reasonable effort in order to remain in our classes?