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
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.