Why Delaware children fail to learn

January 21, 2014

Teachers are, and should be, held accountable for their ability to teach. Increasingly, students have a difficult time learning, I believe, because of lack of discipline and accountability in the classroom. Without civilized behavior, chaos reigns. Earnest students get confused and mediocre students get lost. Ultimately we look to someone to blame.

I believe we point the finger in the wrong direction. Teachers do their best in a bad disciplinary and cultural situation. This is critical in areas where poverty, unemployment, single parenting, welfare households, drug abuse and high crime result in multi-generational endemic ignorance and parenting void. This condition has engendered ingrained “street-wise” behavior in ever increasing proportions.

In failing neighborhoods, no-one has told these kids why they should learn. Some live in survival mode and, in many cases, have no role models at all. As a society, we must recognize a condition that few want to admit: children with no rules, no hope, no future and no history will not respond to classroom teaching. In fact, the opposite is a given; they will act out in ways that disrupt order.

To compound this situation, teachers and principals are banned from using disciplinary action. Kids might be uncivilized and unsocialized, but they aren't stupid. They know the rules - specifically the lack thereof. In our victim-oriented culture, who wants to call a single mother drugged out or dead tired and tell her that her kid is delinquent? Does she care that her 9-year-old is a drug courier for his cousin and wears $200 Nikes he bought with drug money? So what if he bullies the other kids? "Bully" is child's play compared to what some of these kids live with. Is she outraged that he’s “going to cut them until the white comes out?”

Our teachers and schools have become hostage. Until we understand this, our civilization is doomed.

I have witness that in a Delaware elementary school; a boy decided he would masturbate in class; since he got away with it, others followed suit. There are known instances where a fight exploded, a girl attacked her teacher then attacked the school superintendent. This went on until the "authorized restrain" person subdued the girl and eventually the police came. This is an untenable environment for learning anything but fear.

Teachers must have undisputed means of proof addressing the disturbing children in their classroom, as a first step to enable education of those capable and wanting to learn. Only then can teachers be given a fair and level playing field to judge their ability and dedication to impart knowledge. Classrooms must cease being the depository of numbered bodies that enable funding.

Making a judicious evaluation of children’s school behavior could be aided by video-monitoring classrooms, gyms and cafeterias. Kids might be inclined to behave if they know they are on camera and will be held responsible. This is already the experience in school buses. Culturally speaking, this is only a bandage, but it might rid some of the fear of teachers and their students who want to learn.

With audio-visual proof, appropriate determinations can be taken and evaluated with problem children. Some back-up program has to be considered. I am not suggesting throwing away any child's future; I am cautioning that without discipline, learning cannot occur. We cannot continue throwing money into the system’s bottomless pit while failing to address serious disciplinary problems. If we do not, we leave teachers, students and principals helpless and hapless.

M. A. Pirez-Fabar

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