Fear, parents, and schools

While I agree with Chrisopher Chantrill's article "Fear is the Missing Ingredient in Government Schools" for the most part, I think that perhaps he's missing an important point in the tale: that parents are, at least to some significant degree, guilty of pushing an agenda of "you must accommodate my student."  Governments, from the local to the federal level, are guilty of bowing to this pressure.  Never mind what problems the student may have - emotional, psychological, behavioral, or educational.  What matters more is inclusion in a "normal" classroom regardless of the fact that students with considerable versions of the above mentioned problems have a tendency to disrupt entire classrooms on a regular basis.

It truly is the lowering of the bar to the lowest denominator, one that is not even common.

And what's more, the rules on weeding out students who do not belong in the general population of a school are so wickedly restrictive that, short of actually committing an offense like the horrific one seen in Ohio, it is nearly impossible.  In some states, it takes a violent felony committed on school grounds (if memory serves correctly) for expulsion to be considered.  Not on school grounds?  Not a problem.  No metal detector or special program can solve that issue. 

The solution requires rethinking of what education is in our society.  Is it a right or a privilege?  Is it a state or societal responsibility or a family and a personal responsibility?  Is the accommodation of the "special" student more important than the true education of the majority of students?

Put more bluntly, when should the one trump the many?  How far should the bar be lowered before there is a recognition that the liberty of the majority is being trampled upon?

Without a doubt, the solution to education problems in the US has many facets, and I think that Mr. Chantrill hits on one key vehicle of change: fear.  But teachers should not be the only ones who fear for their positions.  Students must feel fear of being expelled for serial violations of rules.  Parents must fear the consequences of what they will do with their children should they be expelled.  Those children who demonstrate that they cannot operate effectively in a standard learning environment must be taught elsewhere, and that is a parental responsibility, not a state responsibility.

The ones who should be without fear, akin to the example of the patient in a hospital, are the students who follow the rules and work diligently at their studies.  They are the ones who are all too frequently being left behind.  They are the ones who deserve safe, orderly classrooms, professional teachers who push them to their best, and parents and administrators who guard the schools from those who do not choose to participate in learning - be they teachers or students.

Bob Myer blogs at mindofflapjack.blogspot.com/
While I agree with Chrisopher Chantrill's article "Fear is the Missing Ingredient in Government Schools" for the most part, I think that perhaps he's missing an important point in the tale: that parents are, at least to some significant degree, guilty of pushing an agenda of "you must accommodate my student."  Governments, from the local to the federal level, are guilty of bowing to this pressure.  Never mind what problems the student may have - emotional, psychological, behavioral, or educational.  What matters more is inclusion in a "normal" classroom regardless of the fact that students with considerable versions of the above mentioned problems have a tendency to disrupt entire classrooms on a regular basis.

It truly is the lowering of the bar to the lowest denominator, one that is not even common.

And what's more, the rules on weeding out students who do not belong in the general population of a school are so wickedly restrictive that, short of actually committing an offense like the horrific one seen in Ohio, it is nearly impossible.  In some states, it takes a violent felony committed on school grounds (if memory serves correctly) for expulsion to be considered.  Not on school grounds?  Not a problem.  No metal detector or special program can solve that issue. 

The solution requires rethinking of what education is in our society.  Is it a right or a privilege?  Is it a state or societal responsibility or a family and a personal responsibility?  Is the accommodation of the "special" student more important than the true education of the majority of students?

Put more bluntly, when should the one trump the many?  How far should the bar be lowered before there is a recognition that the liberty of the majority is being trampled upon?

Without a doubt, the solution to education problems in the US has many facets, and I think that Mr. Chantrill hits on one key vehicle of change: fear.  But teachers should not be the only ones who fear for their positions.  Students must feel fear of being expelled for serial violations of rules.  Parents must fear the consequences of what they will do with their children should they be expelled.  Those children who demonstrate that they cannot operate effectively in a standard learning environment must be taught elsewhere, and that is a parental responsibility, not a state responsibility.

The ones who should be without fear, akin to the example of the patient in a hospital, are the students who follow the rules and work diligently at their studies.  They are the ones who are all too frequently being left behind.  They are the ones who deserve safe, orderly classrooms, professional teachers who push them to their best, and parents and administrators who guard the schools from those who do not choose to participate in learning - be they teachers or students.

Bob Myer blogs at mindofflapjack.blogspot.com/