Students Versus Teachers: Who Will Bear Rule In The Classrooms Of Public Schools?

The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in this column are those of Michael Goings, the author, and do not necessarily reflect those of The Dillon Herald. He is solely responsible for the content of this article.

Before I commence to comment and share with you a few of my opinions and perspectives about our subject for today, I need to tell you that much of my views are derived from the fact that both my wife and daughter are teachers in the public school system in Florence and Darlington Counties, respectively. Together, their tenure in the public schools and classrooms have been well over 40 years. During this long span of teaching in various public school systems, I have gleaned much information and insight from both of them that have helped me to write this article from a factual and experiential perspective.

Is It Possible in This Day for Teachers to Teach and Discipline at the Same Time?
I want to consider the question presented in the heading of this section before I take you further into our consideration. There was a time long, long ago when I was a student at Gordon Elementary and Gordon High School from the 1st through the 12th grade when teachers served as the instructor and disciplinarian in quite an effective way. They knew they had the support of the principals and parents. Also, the pupils who knew not to be disrespectful or act out in the classroom because they would get it when they got home. Regrettably, for the most part, those days are long gone. Back then, teachers could both instruct and discipline the students while maintaining control of their classroom. Nevertheless, only a few have that rare ability to do the dual role of teaching and maintaining order in the classrooms today with the help of an assistant who serves as a disciplinarian. Many public schools are losing many good educators because they can no longer deal with the pressure and disrespect from defiant students.

Does the Real Problem Lie with Principals, Superintendents, and the School Board?
Again, I want to address the question that is the heading for this section without incriminating or laying the blame at anyone’s feet. I am not on a fault-finding mission here. There is enough blame to be shouldered by everyone, myself included. In order for the public schools to function effectively, it takes an entire community. Just as the African Proverb says, “It takes a village to raise a child”, this is certainly the case for public schools. When my children were attending the public schools, I seldom showed up at school board meetings. So, I am not in no way pushing the problems that we have in public schools solely on the school board members, the superintendents, and the principals. Nevertheless, in this day of youth defiance and rebellion, I am convinced that principals, superintendents, and school board members must act with courage and conviction and not cave in to the fear of litigation when they know that they are right and acting within the confines of the law.

The Emergency
of the Urgency of
Zero Tolerance
In my opinion that I have arrived at through observation, investigation, and fact, the problem in many, if not most, of our public schools have become so perplexing that they have reached the alarming proportions of being a behavioral pandemic. This behavioral pandemic is rapidly spreading due to defiant students who are unruly, disrespectful, and difficult, if not impossible, to tame and teach. I believe that it is past the time for allowing them to disrupt and victimize their classmates who come to school to learn. I further stress that superintendents, principals, and school board members must initiate and implement a zero tolerance policy and practice for repeat offenders, who refuse to comply to the rules and regulations of respect and order of the schools and the classrooms. I am convinced that many unruly students would amend their ways and fall in line if this was the case.

Cell Phones
I recently came across a story about a school that had become so disorderly and disruptive due to students texting on their cell phones that some of their teachers could not teach. There had been many attempts and effort to stop the students from texting on the phones while the teachers were attempting to teach, but all had failed. The superintendent and principal had no other option but to come up with a strategy that would help their teachers to be effective in their attempt to instruct and teach their students. Every student with a cell phone had to give it to the teacher or assistant before entering the class and retrieve it once the class was over. At first, there was naturally an outcry and protest by some of the students who had grown accustomed to having their phones while sitting at their desks. However, when they saw that the superintendent and principal, along with the teachers, meant business and was not going to cave in, they settled down and adjusted to the new rule. It drastically caused both a positive change in the teacher’s ability to teach as well as the students’ attention and focus on what was being taught. Their test scores increased and the attitudes of the students became more respectful and submissive.

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