Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Strictness Isn't the Same as Being Mean

That was the title of an article by Dr. John Rosemond, a man whose philosophy is totally different from Dr. Spock and his ilk who sent the wrong message to so many mothers in past years. He was asked “As an elementary teacher, I require that my students complete assignments and behave appropriately in order to earn the privilege of playtime and fun activities. As a result of my classroom policies, there is no shortage of parents who think—and even tell me!—I’m mean.

They seem to think its worse for their children to miss a party than to fail to do an assignment or misbehave in class. When I take a privilege away from a child, the child’s parent may call the principal to complain, at which point his (or her) backbone collapses. With no support from administration, it is becoming more and more difficult to enforce what I consider reasonable academic and behavioral expectations. What Can I do?”

Dr. Rosemond answered “You’re not mean; you’re strict. You’re not unreasonable, impatient or anxiously intolerant; you just want your students to do their best, in every sense of the term. You’re not a punishment freak; you just want your students to learn that there are consequences for being irresponsible. Unfortunately, I hear from lots of teachers who tell me that the very sort of teacher kids need is not the teacher the kid wants. (I think we were mostly all the same when we were students, we didn’t like strict teachers and yet it is a shame that there are so few strict teachers and principals today as popularity and personality has become the standard for our youths.) Tolerance and self-esteem are today’s buzzwords.

In all fairness to today’s principals, they tend to be apprehensive and rightly so about the possibility of litigation.”

As another answer to a statement made in the comment sector of my blog of a couple days ago on discipline and prisons, I quote columnist Mike Lawrence (October 25, 2005, JS) addressing our governors request for more money to repair our prison system “We spend a lot of money on programs that don’t work. We must demand effectiveness.” No, I suggest we elect, appoint and hire people who ARE effective and do not let self seeking pretenders stop us from—being effective. Most common people like myself, want to be effective, but are often stymied by others in command.

Dr. Rosemond sums up “If you can’t take the heat any longer (and I wouldn’t blame you if you can’t) resign and find a teaching position at a private or parochial school that welcomes teachers like yourself.”

My prediction that the number of kids moving to home schooling and private or parochial schools will be a greatly expanded number as public school districts fail to do the job intended. What’s that job? Just start with hiring teachers who demand that the kids in public schools be responsible for their actions. Then get school board members elected who subscribe to the philosophy of responsibility or consequences and they in turn will hire administrators and principals who STAND BEHIND ALL THEIR GOOD TEACHERS!!! On this subject I’ve watched what happens in too many communities too long, I’m pessimistic. But I’m optimistic that enough good people will come to their senses and make more positive changes starting with the ones discussed in this blog (and many of my previous blogs) so we can someday regain our faith in our public school systems.

Let these “losers” litigate; just hire good attorneys who would win probably 99% of these frivolous lawsuits.

As a postscript, I have written approximately 300 blogs since I started blogging in August, 2004. Many of these blogs are about Peoria Public School district # 150. Go back into my archives which you can access by scrolling and let’s continue this dialogue because I know that while I am not widely read, I have a following of many community leaders including many in the press. Within the last few weeks, information first brought to public print in my blogs appeared in print in the JS.

I end this blog with an article written on 5/09/03 by Dan Henninger, a columnist in the WSJ whose options I highly respect. He says “Recall that last week we discovered a survey of opinion polls about public schools, published by Public Agenda in New York City. Many papers around the country published the Associated Press’s account, which began: Ill-mannered pupils, demoralized teachers, uninvolved parents, and bureaucracy in public schools are greater worries for Americans than the standards and accountably that occupy policymakers.”

Mr. Henninger continues “That seemed a good sentence upon which to erect some thoughts on how a once fine school system went bad. The survey data, on what parents, teachers, principals, professors and employers think of our tax supported schools turned out like a Stephen King horror novel.” (Sitting next to a federal judge a few days ago, I (Henninger) mentioned the findings of professors who think high schools teach students the basics is 31%; “sounds awfully high, he replied.)

Do I personally believe the public school system as a whole nationwide is in bad shape? Not only do I believe it is bad shape and getting worse; my feeling are backed by some 500 clippings going back to 1994 and sorted and filed by category. This blog comes from my folder titled “Discipline and Respect”.

Do I think many people are trying to make the system better and are succeeding? Absolutely, but as I was long ago taught and observed, a “few bad apples ruin the basketful”. Think of the minority terrorists in Lebanon, Iraq and Afghanistan and the large number of terrorists increasing every day right here in our own country, most of them dropouts from the public school system. These minorities of relatively uneducated and undisciplined thugs and religious fanatics, are ruining this beautiful “basket” we live in.

1 comment:

Cheryl Shelabarger said...

If I were raising my daughters today, they would either be home schooled or they would attend a private school. My youngest (20 y/o) graduated from Peoria Central. It was the first time I had ever attended a graduation ceremony where arrests were being made.

I feel truly sad for the youth of today. They will probably never know the joy of playing "kick the can". Instead, they will likely be inside their air conditioned bedooms playing video games or logging on to

They will probably never be taught to knit or sew by their grandmother. Instead, many will either be shoplifting clothes or using their parent's credit card to shop.

The majority will probably never have a paper route, babysit for neighbors or mow lawns. Their work ethic/motto might be "minimum wage gets minimum effort".

I am so thankful that I grew up in the 50's! I am also thankful that my girls played "kick the can", babysat for neighbors AND mowed lawns, and they know how to sew. Lastly, I am thankful that they understand the importance of education and hard work, and they understand that there are consequences for their actions. Some good...some bad.

By the grace of God, they will continue on through life in the same fashion and pass those values on to their children. I can only hope and pray for them and for the other children whose parents either don't care, aren't there or never learned themselves.