“As a society, we have grown reluctant to reprimand kids, not just our own, but other people’s, too.” I quote from an article in today’s WSJ. In theory, we believe it takes a village to raise a kid. But the village now seems reluctant to say anything about their own kids misbehavior and certainly not about someone else’s little darling. “But the truth is today’s kids often welcome discipline by outsiders even if they roll their eyes.” The article continues “one woman says she was at a Starbucks, and a little girl kept opening sweetener packets and dumping them on the floor. Honey, should you be doing that?” the woman asked the girl. “I beg your pardon!” snapped the girl’s mother. “Don’t call my daughter “honey,” and what she is doing or done, is none of your business.” We have a society that believes more and more that children should never be addressed let alone be reminded of their misbehavior.
Those who read me know that I visit some schools every year in District #150. I have been pleased with what I see at many of the schools like Northmoor, Hines, Whittier, Columbia, Franklin and others. I observe changes both for better or worse, under new School Superintendents, principals and teachers. The first two times I visited Loucks, I was pleased with what I saw only to be disappointed next time. The reason seemed to be a change of principals. I have seen blatant disregard of a teachers authority on many an occasion. Some of the teachers say that they cannot discipline their classroom because if they send those out of control kids to the office, the principal often sends the kid back to the classroom where the same discipline problems continue. Or the next day the teacher gets a call from the parent demanding to know why the teacher is “picking on my kid”. I’m told that teachers who can’t handle the discipline problems by themselves, some in higher authority many times make them feel that the teacher is the problem.(In some cases, that’s true.)A few of the problems are brought on by those in authority who ignore the small stuff and wind up losing respect and the classroom and whole school suffers disruptions that distract from the learning ability of those wanting to learn.
Gurian Institute in Colorado Springs, Colo., is an educational training organization that compiles child-rearing research. They believe that problems such as anorexia, depression and chronic stress in children are exacerbated because kids today often live in communities where nobody but their nuclear families seem to care much about them. In Garrison Keillor’s novel “Wobegon Boy”, Mr. Keillor longs for the era when “you didn’t smart off to elders, and when a lady told you to blow your nose, you blew it.”
Victoria Juster of Long Grove, Illinois, serves on her local school board. One day while following a school bus, she observed misbehavior in the last row of the bus. When the bus stopped, Mrs. Juster asked the driver for permission to address the misbehaviors and did so. Parents of the mis-behaving students demanded that she resign from the school board. Fortunately, a school-district investigation cleared her and she remains on the board. She fondly recalls adults of a different era who felt it a duty to discipline. She recalls that when as a child visiting a friend’s home and when she misbehaved, she was made to sit in a corner. Today, she says, “I’m sure if I put someone’s kid in a corner of my house, the parent would never let her child visit again – or the parent might call their lawyer.”
Here is the “where and why” in at least many public school systems like District #150. Both teachers and school kids are in shrinking supply. The ITF defends teachers good or bad. One year in Illinois, out of 90,000 teachers represented by unions less than 6 teachers were dismissed for poor performance. And two of them filed costly lawsuits ($400,000.00 spent so far in one instance) The Superintendent and the board want every kid to stay in the classroom because lower head count means less government subsidies. Parents often can’t or won’t teach their kids any code of conduct. The kid pushes for all the concessions to his or her misbehavior they can get. They go to school or out in public and do the same thing. Small concessions often lead eventually to truancy, expulsion, drop-outs with hardly any education, then many juvenile court appearances with minor misdemeanors leading into felonies, followed by incarceration and/or death by violence
Disruption uncontrolled at home, public places and in the street, often leads young people down paths of self destruction of themselves and others, young boys impregnating younger girls, children bearing children, neither the father or the mother with much of an education, no family training and no job. As these kids these kids bear more kids they can’t handle, they create another layer of the same pattern growing larger in each generation.
Some of my readers with children now driving may want to call 1-866-5-MY-TEEN for bumper stickers that say “How’s My Teen Driving? and with your phone number on the sticker. Placing this sticker on your car may mortify your child but may save you lots of accident expense and maybe save some lives.
Kids pretend they are not looking for adult guidance including meaningful discipline. Don’t believe them; they are. As the father of three adults who were once kids, I know. Some have to stop being such sheltering parents and stop being just “buddies” with your kids. You are the adults who should know that kids are watching what you do and testing your tolerances. Many of us are failing or have failed. Fortunately, for this community and country there are far more successes in raising children than there are failures. But growing problems of community safety suggest that there are too many failures.
If you have access to the Wall Street Journal 7/27/06, I suggest reading the whole article from which much of the content of this blog was gathered.
Pleases do not be afraid to speak up or take lawful action when you observe behavior that could some day cause you or your family much personal harm and agony.
It's general, not just in the schools and streets but in the homes of rich, middle income and poor. I blogged on this subject before, "You Can do What you Want to do" 6/20/07; "Spanking in Schools", 8/20/08; "Disrespect Revisited", 11/20/07; "Bad Decisions Have Created Bad Schools", 8/02/06; "Strictness Isn't the Same as Being Mean", 8/02/06; "Why We're Reluctant to Reprimand Other People's Children", 7/27/06; "Shift the Blame", 2/28/06; "What's Ahead for Your County (Peoria)", 3/04/06 and other blogs on disrespect and lack of discipline enforcement.
I write this article because I know Mrs. Valda Shipp believed that schools and classrooms get quickly out of hand once the "kids" figure out the teacher, principal administration and boards weaknesses. As far as I know, she never let that happen to the kids under her care and education.
Ever since Dr. Harry Whittaker left the Superintendents job and retired, discipline at #150 has gone down hill in a hurry in too large a % of the school.If the firing of Mrs. Shipp was over discipline problems expect the new @27 million new Glen Oak School to be one of the most costly mistakes made by Ken Hinton and the school board.
Failure to enforce discipline problems have been THE major reason for the decline of the American Public School System. Under any circumstance the district will lose another disciplinarian Principal.
Both Valda and Mark's two daughter work for Mark in his successful insurance business. Both are courteous and friendly.
From the Southern Illinoisan [Carbondale, IL], Sunday, May 24, 2009, p. 6D See http://www.southernillinoisan.com/articles/2009/05/24/lifestyles/family/28992003.txt
Education problems will be solved with home reform, not school reform
By John Rosemond
This man is one of the best educators of our times. The JS at one time carried his column and it would be a good community service if they brought Dr. Rosemond back
Under today's lack of discipline in public school, smaller classes compared to larger classes in "days gone by" , allow for better discipline and concentrated learning. But I agree, today it doesn't make that much difference if the parent can't interest the kid in school, the school can't reach her attention and the administration and board can't bring it all together. New Schools are not the answer, but the taxes associated with them will cause people to move from #150. Which they are.
Rosemond says, "Public school reformers are like a fellow who scoops a bucket of water from one end of a swimming pool, carries it to the other end, dumps it back in, and then repeats the sequence endlessly, convinced he is making the latter end deeper.
In the meantime, his labor causes the cost of the water to skyrocket as it becomes more contaminated. Our reformer is obviously suffering from some learning disability because despite the fact he's been at this for years, he seems incapable of understanding that he is accomplishing nothing and causing problems in the process.
Nonetheless, he can be heard constantly complaining that he needs more money with which to increase the pool's water level and improve the quality of the water.
The bankruptcy of the reformer's argument, as well as his myopia, is easily exposed. One of his objectives is to reduce the student/teacher ratio. He maintains that smaller class size improves learning. Oh, really? In the 1950s, when class size was much larger than it is today, and the student/teacher ratio was larger still, children at all socioeconomic levels achieved at much higher levels than their contemporary counterparts. And many of those kids - including yours truly - came to first grade not even knowing their ABCs!
Since the 1960s, reformers have succeeded at bringing about significant reductions in both class size and the student/teacher ratio. Their efforts have coincided with dramatic declines in student achievement. Yet, oblivious to facts, they continue to carry water from one end of the pool to the other.
The reason 1950s kids could be successfully taught in overcrowded classrooms (I've met women who in that decade taught as many as 95 first graders, by themselves, and with relatively few problems) is because they had been and were being properly disciplined in the home. They were not the center of parental attention in their homes; rather, they were expected to pay attention to their parents. They were not the object of great doing on their parents' parts; rather, they were expected to do, to carry their share of the weight (Does anyone remember when children had chores and were expected to find their own entertainment after school?) They were expected to do at school what they had been trained to do at home - pay attention and do what they were told. (Did I mention that these kids were also expected to do their own homework, without their mothers' help?) This training obviously paid off.
The good news is that this same training will pay the same dividends today. The problem, of course, is that few parents realize the solution to American's education woes lies in their hands. They have been persuaded that the reformers, given enough money, will solve the problems. When his efforts fail, they demand that he carry water faster, to which he responds with demands for even more money. And the beat goes on.
The problems in American education will be solved through home reform, not school reform. When parents wake up to the misleading they have endured for the past forty years and re-embrace a traditional (read: everlasting) point of view and restore traditional practice (the emphasis of which is not on spanking, but on leadership); when they once again back teachers when it comes to discipline; when they once again send children to school who have been properly prepared at home, not through academic exercises beginning at age 3, but through such things as chores beginning at age 3; then and only then will American schools be restored to their former glory.
Call it trickle-down edu-nomics."
JOHN ROSEMOND is a psychologist, family therapist and nationally known lecturer on parenting issues.
Jerry P. Becker
Dept. of Curriculum & Instruction
Southern Illinois University
625 Wham Drive
Mail Code 4610
Carbondale, IL 62901-4610
Phone: (618) 453-4241 [O]
(618) 457-8903 [H]
Fax: (618) 453-4244
Learning while riding around town on a school bus? Some innovative schools provide kids with laptops or videoiPods with laptops and sets them up with online courses and educational videos providing learning experiences instead of just riding around "in a no-mans land" of gossip, talk, and fights (I should mention contests by bored students like pitcdhing crushed pop cans out bus windows) on school buses.
The program called "The Asprinant Initiative" was founded by Billy Hudson from Grapevine, Ark. The program is successful; for those who want to learn like 17 year old Ethan Clement and 8 year old Lauren Taylor. It could work anywhere providing the unions don't find ways to fault it.
Does the program have it's faults and detractors? Of course and I'll list them.
Lack of discipline on the bus. So what's new, if the classroom lacks discipline and many do, you will have a lack of discipline everywhere else including home. School buses are noisy and bumpy. What do you expect when "ease and comfort" are more important than learning. Radiation risks while using a laptop? Unproven, just as microwaves were once and still by some, to cause cancer. Still, kids can use a pad. Some people even complain that some parents who don't want their kids to come home and ride around longer. If they are learning let them sit in buses or ride around all day.
This complete article can be found on today's WSJ "Internet Access Turns School Buses Into Rolling Classrooms, by Stephanie Simon. You innovators might want to read it..
Sheridan School District, south of Little Rock is outfitting buses with big screen monitors so that kids can watch together using wireless headphones.
Do all kids participate? Heck,no, just like in the dozens of classrooms I've visited. Should it be tried in the area? Absolutely
The Hudson's are seeking grants to expand the program into other parts of Arkansas and Tennessee.
Hooray, Comcast has allowed me to connect to the Internet today after being unable to sign in for more than half of this month. After going out Monday morning, I connected late this afternoon. I'm not cancelling Comcast's visit between 8 and 10 tomorrow as I may get a disconnect at any time.
Watching a debate about spanking on our public schools on CNN this afternoon, I am irritated enough to blog on the subject.
As a former school teacher, in three years in elementary, only four kids were spanked by our PRINCIPAL, in front of a teacher witness. No teacher was permitted to spank a child. One eighth grade student was was the son of the school board president. We had NO discipline problems in this school. The kid's dad had the same attitude as my Dad; you get spanked in school you get spanked at home. My Dad used a leather razor strap which I proudly own today.
CNN showed as board about as big as a two by four. How stupid can CNN get? Our principal used a wide, flat "3/8 inch paddle stick. The only damage done to the kids was to their ego's. No problem with any of them after the three slaps on their butt.
Our inability to discipline our kids both at home or in the public arena has led to the mess our country is in now with over nine million people incarcerated as I write, some for just an overnight and some heading for death row.
I am a strong believer in the broken window theory. I am saddened when the JSEB asks "what is going wrong with our kids?" when condemning those who do try to show kids the errors of their ways
Even a fool should know you do not beat a kid. Three solid slaps on a bent over butt early on in their "stupidity" years, accompanied by a few words of fatherly advice, usually ends the discipline problem.
There is a big difference between spanking and beating up a kid. Anyone in their right mind knows that beating up any juvenile is not going to change their attitude.
Ah yes, the Summit held for three sessions at Lincoln School. At first the school board wanted to charge $15 per person but the media scotched that idea. 175 people attended the first session with slightly less participants the next two evenings. I was there all three nights and felt as some of the media did that we may be moving in the direction new Superintendent Kay Royster wanted #150 to move. Out of the summit came 50 ideas with the top 9 as follows: Increased parental involvement; reading at grade level; class size; race and diversity; Marketing District #150; vocational training; educational equality for all students; discipline and Edison Schools. Money and adequate facilities were ranked by the attendees as 14th and 16th.
So then a few months later District #150 assembled 40 people to meet behind closed doors as the JSEB says at "the bargain price of $60,000. Didn't the Summit do the same think last summer?" Royster with all her great sounding ideas (think Obama) is long gone and the district not much better off than most of us can see. Summit's, closed door meetings, consultants by the dozens and new facilities moved from 16th place of need by the community to #1 by the board and administration.
Let's look at the top nine goals determined at the Summit and see how far we've come in 6 years.
Parental involvement - less today than then. Actually many of the teachers do not want the parents to come to school, visit their classes and observe the general chaos that goes on. I know, I visit. Some teachers won't even look at me let alone introduce me or ask me to address the class. On the other hand, how can child bearers and sometimes unkown "fathers" be held accountable? No one ever taught them how to be a parent. Not at home or in #150.
Reading at grade level. How about two levels back for most kids from the third grade on or earlier?
Class size - #150 is consolidating meaning less and less kids are coming to school or classes will be larger.
Race and diversity - This community is more separated today than in 2002. Diversity when forced has less affect. Consider some of the colleges that accept students who are bound to fail but at least these institutes of higher learning have met their "quotas" of minorities.
Marketing: My idea as quoted in the Peoria Times-Observer on 6/12/02 "District #150 has not sent enough missionaries out in the field to spread the good word", Widmer said.
Vocational training - mainly all talk for 16 years with maybe 600 students taking a few courses and that includes computer usage. Plus the few kids Caterpillar works with for their hopefully own employ later.
Educational equality for all students - meaning what? The students have only so many good teachers to teach them. Many teachers should not be teaching so how can you have equality? Again, I know, I visit and watch and listen. But all kids in any classroom have an opportunity to learn even from the worst teachers.
Discipline - Once past third grade discipline is next to impossible because the "window" was broken a long time ago and parents and administrators and experts sad "kid will be kids, let them be themselves; don't harm their self-esteem". Now windows are broken with abandon and it is too late for many of these kids. Now the schools are filled with these kids (they later fill our judicial, juvenile courts; our jails and prisons).
Edison - Loucks Edison was an impressive school when I visited it about 4-5years ago when they had a white principal and assistant principal. When the principal (and several good teachers left the following year)left and went to Dunlap, Loucks went downhill to the point of the use of a bullhorn to try to maintain order in the cafeteria. I know first hand that Nicole Wood and her staff do an excellent job at Northmoor as does Valda Shipp at Franklin. Same for Rolling Acres.
There are other good principals like Mrs. Jankovetz at Columbia, The principal at Whittier (now at Manual), Kellar, Hines, Woodruff, Richwoods (now retired), Peoria High, Charter Oaks and many other schools. The biggest breakdown is at the top as it usually is when entities are in trouble. But as I said in my comments on C.J. Summer's site,unless the whole public school system is overhauled someone will be writing these same words 50 years from now.
I have never intended to lump all administrators, board members, teachers, principals, coaches, janitors, cafeteria workers, bus drivers, substitute teachers and parents together. Peoria has some great people among all these categories. But the community has failed to have the right leadership in the right places at the right time. This community, a long time in denial, has never accepted a thoughtful contrarian view. The leaders only want to work with their peers who all think alike.
The community has a great race and culture divides within the races. I reject saying that the community is racist, black or white. Most black people go one way and their kids follow. Most white people go one way and their kids follow. An article I read today said that college students meet to support Obama and the white kids sit at one table and the black kids at another, When they agree to support Obama; most college kids are liberal and are dreamers because they are being taught by liberal professors, the blacks leave together and go one way and the whites leave together and go a different way. That sums up Peoria. Last night I went to a fundraiser for Percy Baker attended by approximately 100 people. Ten white people and 90 blacks. Last week I went to a community development question and comment session. 90 white people and 2-3 black people. I don't know what the mix was at Peoria Promise last night, a reported 500 or more in attendance. (Poor planning to have the events on the same date and hour); Percy deserved a better turnout.
I see Peoria and this country 50 years or sooner divided in enclaves far more divisive than we are now. It may even be too late for common sense to enter the equation as many black kids are determined they are NOT going to follow the successes of white people or even the successes of blacks like Thomas Sowell, William Raspberry, Ward Connerly, Cosby, Tiger Woods and Juan Williams to name a handful.
Peoria has rightfully gained a reputation of a lot of talk and little of the right kind of action. Usually the ideas don't fit our pocketbooks or are shoved on people who would rather see the money spent on the necessities of life rather than on tax spending enhancements.
I and many other believe we know most of the answers and I've posted many of them on this site and in approximately 25 letters to the editors I've written in the past 20 years.
The "fire in my belly" is burning out. My days in public service will probably end by my decision in early 2009. The days when I feel like blogging are less and less. It's time for me to relax and enjoy more of life. I've done a lot and a majority of people support my actions. Many other do not. Not a great problem for me but maybe they should look honestly in the mirror.
Today's JS article about a complaint by a jailed Peorian with a long rap sheet is the prologue to the following sad state of affairs in our jails and prison systems. I quote from an article titled "When Courts Meddle in Prison Operations" written by Dave Morris, a semi-retired criminologist who worked for the IDC and currently serves on the adjunct faculty at Southwestern College in Bellevile.
Mr. Morris writes, "One hundred years ago prisoners were regarded as slaves of the state. In 1964, the Supreme Court in Cooper vs. Pate ruled that prisoners in state prisons could sue to force authorities to address complaints arising from the Civil Rights Act of 1871. The court said convicted felons remain citizens with rights protected by the Constitution. Imprisoned felons went from slaves to inconvenienced citizens.
Each year since state prisoner have filed more and more lawsuits. Think that doesn't affect you? Well, think again. The government hires attorneys to represent prison employees. You pay for the attorneys. Trials, depositions, witnesses, court costs - your money. Since most prisoners can't afford attorneys, attorneys are appointed to represent them. You pay their fees.
Remember that one of the reasons for the hands-off approach by courts was to avoid disrupting prison discipline. Since courts have become more hand-on, discipline has been disrupted in many institutions.
Some prisons now operate under legal consent decrees establishing numerous mandatory rules, some of which makes prisons unsafe for both inmates and staff alike. In addition, many prison administrators and employees are concerned that they may be hauled into court for just doing their jobs.
The result? The emotional costs that litigation inflicts on staff and inmates tend to increase tension, increasing violence, more management problems and in the long run, higher cost to the taxpayer's".
So you could expect the lawsuit/complaint issues of jails to increase all across the country. Now a complaint about unsanitary spoons at our County Jail. On Dec 4, 2008, a nine member Peoria County Grand Jury found the Peoria County Jail had no obvious problems with conditions and treatment of prisoner. The County Health Department also found no unsanitary conditions at the jail in a recent inspections.
Prisoners are so saavy now that they can file numerous lawsuits and complaints against guards and administrators. In the case of the plastic spoons, 60 other inmates signed on. They probably see the possibility of a lawsuit and would probably want to be called as witnesses to get them out of jail for some testimony time. (Maybe even possible damages? or harrassment at the least)
Thousands of frivolous lawsuits are filled by prisoners all across the U.S. every year. It is my opinion that the judges should be able to separate the charges that have merit from claims that reused plastic spoons are negatively affecting prisoners health.
A few pathetic people are further ruining this country. If the health department can show that the prisoners can't properly wash their spoons, then the sheriff and our competent Jail Superintendent Steve Smith will provide them with the proper soap.
The best advice I can give to the complaining inmates - stay out of trouble and you won't wind up eating with a plastic spoon along with other lawbreakers who get caught.
To all citizens of this county, stop the prevalent permissiveness that leads from a "broken window" to a smashed windshield and a pistol shot. Either support discipline in the school systems, home or public places or be prepared to eventually build another addition onto the County Jail, hire more safety officers more judges and probation officers. Stop helping create a less desirable community to move to or live in.
As I've warned before, offer love and if that doesn't work, offer tough love but always expect responsibility in return. As the song goes, "you can't have one without the other".