I am one member of a five person board. The opinions I express on this forum are mine only, and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the Escambia County Staff, Administrators, Employees, or anyone else associated with Escambia County Florida. I am interested in establishing this blog as a means of additional transparency to the public, outreach to the community, and information dissemination to all who choose to look. Feedback is welcome, but because public participation is equally encouraged, appropriate language and decorum is mandatory.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

The Matrix

Discipline is an issue in our schools that I believe is a significant problem.  I've discussed it here and here and I have stated on this blog  that I fully intend to make this issue an intense area of  focus during the rest of my time on the board;  I believe that lax discipline directly contributes to a dysfunctional, potentially unsafe learning environment.

And a learning environment that is not conducive to learning leads parents to chose private schools or move to the suburbs to find better schools.

With this as the backdrop, the district staff have put together a "Discipline Matrix" for how students are to be treated and what disciplinary consequences  such students will face if they misbehave.

The primary grades discipline matrix, describing punishments/consequences for elementary schoolers, is linked on the district's website and can be found here.

The secondary level matrix, for middle and high school students, is here.

I think this matrix idea is a great first step, and some of what I see in this matrix, I really like.  Particularly, I like that we start to escalate the consequences for students that start racking up an obscene number of referrals.  In the past we have had students get  20, 30, 39, 50 or as many as 61 discipline referrals, and we still allow such students, like Mr. 61, to come back.

I think this practice of allowing a few disruptive students to continuously degrade the learning atmosphere with their antics and to then be invited right back--  is destroying our classroom environments and slowly killing our schools.  It is demoralizing for staff, stressful on students that are trying to learn, and cumbersome for school site administrators to address.

I'm hoping that this new matrix is followed, no interference from district admin, no PC filters, and/or litmus tests for who gets the punishments and who gets warnings.   But I do have concerns.  At the bottom of "The Matrix" is a generic disclaimer phrase allowing principals in their "sole discretion" to deviate from the matrix.  While it is understandable to give the principal some flexibility, that could possibly allow for uneven treatment of students from one school to another school, if principals over-rely on the discretionary exception.

So I am going to ask about this.

And I have a lot of other questions I'll be asking about this matrix at the board's next discussion workshop.  I'm hopeful it will be a positive step in making our classroom learning atmospheres better than they have been in the past.


Gulagathon said...

The discipline matrix looks good. The thing is that, it has to be enforced, no matter what, no matter the cost. School administrations can't make teachers feel inadequate for writing referrals on kids. People don't want to be teachers anymore because of the quagmires in some of these schools. But if discipline is enforced then this is a whole new ball game, and teaching can be enjoyable again.

The public education system has people ticked off because common sense has been taken out of the schools.

We can't let the bad kids take over, who cares if some bad kids get kicked out of school because of their bad behavior, i sure don't. I don't care because those bad kids are slowing us down WAY too much, and it has got to STOP. Political correctness and liberalism has been dragging us down, and we all shouldn't let this happen anymore. The future for us all is at stake.

Anonymous said...

Gulagathon sounds a lot like Godzilla. :-P

So, you use the same techniques over and over again, believe in denying developing humans the right to an education, and still dont meet educational standards. Meanwhile, schools around the country are realizing that what really counts is building community and professional development, since many teachers arent trained to teach to how the brain is built, nor do they offer substantive feedback or instruction on how to improve.

Just imagine: maybe students call a teacher a bi*** because a teacher reacts to misbheavior, provokes the child further, and lacks training in how to properly respond. Those reminds me of walking past those crappy parents who nag and scream at their kids in the store.

Gulagathon said...

What is the appropriate way to respond when being called a b***h? I'm sure if the average person out here with at least half a spine will react to being called a b***h by either responding back vulgarly or knocking that persons head off. If you*re called this at least once a week, I'm sure ones tolerance level will decrease. What human being can put up with constant dehumanizing barbs? I guess your regular everyday door mat.

What training can one receive that can construct a force field over ones dignity that can withstand the crappy personalities that our modern society has produced?

Children deserve the right to an education somewhat. They don't deserve it if they are going make everybody else's life a living hell. I don't have time for kids who wanna curse me out all day, and we just keep on trying to find a way to deal with the cursing out in a liberal way.

This whole country will be a prison war zone if we keep making excuses for everything.

Jeff Bergosh said...

I agree with "Gulagathon" and his post. Teachers and other students in a classroom should not have to deal with a small number of problem students that are obscenely, verbally abusive over and over. These students should be removed until they can behave like human beings and treat everyone with dignity and respect. To make teachers malleable enough and desensitized enough to "take" this abuse is unconscionable so far as I'm concerned. And having teachers conditioned enough, or scared enough, to accept this does not mean the district has solved this issue, either. Sooner or later this abhorrent behavior is dealt with in life. If we correct it early on, and I mean early like beginning in elementary school with some of these kids, then maybe-just maybe we can save these students from making bad choices that eventually lead to self-destruction, prison, drugs, crime, etc. It has to start early, and it must be met with firm, yet fair classroom discipline.

Gulagathon said...

That's right Jeff, that's how it is. All because some schools cover up the chaos doesn't mean that it's correcting the behavior and making the learning environment a better place, in fact, it's making a lot of schools worst.

For example, there's a kid at warrington that I used to know a couple of years back, this kid was on the news two weeks ago, he was wanted for questioning about a murder. Throughout his life, I'm sure his behavior was covered up or wasn't corrected well enough. Covered up to make the teacher look a little better, and to make the school seem a little better.

At more and more schools discipline is going down the toilet. And this behavior is just accepted and tolerated.

Anonymous said...

When you're treated like dog your whole life, you become a dog. I understand the challenge of student behavior, but most kids are used to being yelled to and talked to like crap. And that is the truth. Most of these kids probably come from elementary schools of low-quality, and low quality teachers who did not know how to handle certain behaviors.

Despite my own mistakes, I will continually improve, because I know I will make a difference. I believe it.

I will never, ever stop believing that goodness can be harnessed, and I will do whatever it takes to one day prove it.

My biases rear their ugly head. At good schools, I find myself ignoring the behavior of white students and focusing on only the behavior of minorities. Both students display the same behavior of talking at inappropriate times. I know this bias exists within me, and to reach progress, I have to acknowledge it. I have to acknowledge racism is an issue for all groups. I have to acknowledge that society has passed down expectations and stereotypes. Without having the humility to acknowledge that we all are guilty of an implicit racism, we cannot move forward.

I believe these students of tough schools come from both poor schools and poor families. Poor families typically lack life skills, which carry over to the child. Poor schools lack quality teachers where a difference can be made, but experienced and trained professionals CAN make a difference, as school turnarounds have occurred. Because of this tandem effect, it carries over into middle school.

We need to also acknowledge that quality schooling and EDUCATION can make a difference, and it indeed starts in elementary school.

I will never stop believing in the power of goodness. Ever.