Behaviorist Theory has drastically changed  the landscape in terms of using corporal punishment in schools, in public, or in the home. The mere mention of corporal punishment brings out all the screaming banshee defenders of Behaviorist Theory. Scathing articles are written questioning the sanity of anyone that even hints of the positive effects of corporal punishment. Victims of the overuse of corporate punishment are brought before the press and the TV cameras. Pictures of blistered bottoms appear, and then emotionally and mentally damaged adults are interviewed. Rightfully so, the excesses and improper use of corporal punishment must be aggressively pursued, exposed, and punished.  The real problem is Behaviorist Theory is so entrenched in the thought processes of Americans, and our education system, any positive effects of corporal punishment are minimized and never discussed. Of more importance the basic theories and negative aspects of Behaviorist Theory are never discussed, exposed, or challenged. What are the negative  effects of Behaviorist Theory?

Could bullying in our schools and society be one negative effect of Behaviorist Theory?  Bullying was present in schools and society in the 1950’s, 60’s, and 70’s. Bullying was definitely not the huge problem that it has become in the 80’s, 90’s, and twenty first century. There is a correlation in the acceptance and use of Behaviorist Theory and the massive increase in the bullying problem in America. The  negative effects of Behaviorist Theory can be see in the areas of empathy and self-esteem development of our school age children.

Watching the development of children over the years, the use of empathy and the understanding of empathy does not appear in ample amounts, until the ninth or tenth grade. Before those grades, students find it hard to put themselves into another student’s,  or a teacher’s situation. A bully puts little to no effort into understanding how another student or teacher feels or thinks.

At the elementary level a recess period or play period can quickly turn into a scene of mass chaos. Very quickly a fun play time can turn into payback time, survival of the strongest time, and a bullying time. How much empathy development or self-esteem development can be found or developed in these situations?

Behaviorist Theory has allowed bullying situations to become prevalent throughout schools. How can this be so? Behaviorist Theory will not allow a student to be punished in any physical way. Behaviorists believe a paddling will cause huge psychological and emotional problems in the development of a student. Furthermore, a paddled student will grow up thinking, physical punishment is the way to solve problems. The consequences of these beliefs are a bully can physically hurt and punish every student in the school and he knows he will not face physical punishment himself. The mental and self-esteem processes of every student in a classroom or school can be damaged or destroyed, as behaviorists strive to protect the mental and self-esteem processes of the bully.

Behaviorist Theory has become so entrenched in school policy that teachers find it hard to discipline a bully. Teachers breaking up a fight must not bruise, scratch, stretch a joint, or redden any part of the bully’s body. An administrator or teacher can face disciplinary procedures, if any of the above consequences show up on the body of the bully. A teacher can face disciplinary action, if a teacher uses harsh language, intimidating language, or yells at a bully. The sad truth is, if a bully starts to cry from any action of school personnel, that adult faces the possibility of reprimand, disciplinary procedures, or the judge.

A large amount of students in Behaviorist Theory Environments become bullies. The consequences and punishments for bad behavior, espoused by Behaviorists, will not change bullying behavior. Students in these environments come to believe, they are stronger and smarter than teachers and administrators of the school. Students come to understand and believe, they are bullet proof to any discipline consequences. Armed with these beliefs, students are enabled and empowered to be discipline problems and bullies. Bully behavior, huge discipline problems, poor manners, a lack of respect for teachers, administrators, adults, other students, and the school are the final results of following Behaviorist Theory.

What happened to a bully before the arrival of Behaviorist Theory? In the “old school days”, school personnel verbally confronted and reprimanded a bully. A bully quickly understood that his bullying behavior was wrong and unacceptable. If a bully assaulted a student, he was dragged down (often by the ear) to the office. In the office the bully was paddled by the principal. Behaviorists believe these are wrong consequences for bullying behavior.

What effects did “old school consequences” have on the school, teachers, victims, and bullies? A bully learned, quickly, that his behavior was wrong. After a paddling a bully started to develop empathy for the victims of his behavior. A bully facing unpleasant and real consequences, changed his behavior. Facing real consequences, a bully came to understand the teachers and administrators were in charge of the classroom, school, and student behavior. Administrators armed with unpleasant and real consequences for bad behavior and bullying could produce safe schools. Students could come to school without the fear of being bullied every day. Of more importance, teachers, unencumbered with Behaviorist Theory, could call a bully a bully. Teachers, to a much higher degree, could verbally and mentally challenge a bully to change his behavior. A student on his way to becoming a bully could change his behavior, and mentally and emotionally became a student with more self-respect and self-esteem. Along the way, he also became a productive, courteous, and happy member of the student body.

A huge bullying problem is just one negative consequence, that Behaviorist Theory brought to our schools. Behaviorist theory has brought several other negative consequences to our schools. Other negative consequences will be a topic of a future post.

Have you ever wished you could be Joe Clark? Do you wish you could go into an unsafe, out of control school and just like Joe Clark, bring that school under control and make that school safe?

The lead story on the local TV news was of big fights at one of the schools in the Spring ISD in Texas. These fights and hallway control issues have been going on for several months. The latest fight appeared to get so big and the students so unruly that a policeman felt compelled to use pepper spray.

TV interviews with parents indicated that their children were often afraid to go to school. The news media had found parents with stories about their children being bullied at school.  These parents were hoping and wishing that conditions in the school would improve. Parents also expressed their disappointment and frustration with the school, teachers, administrators, and the school district. They also expressed a will and desire to help solve the problem. Everyone involved in these school situations wants to solve the problem, but no on has the solution.

I understand your frustrations and discouragements. I have been through these experiences and emotions.

There is a way to solve these school problems. Joe Clark turned a tough, out of control, inner-city school into a safe and productive school. I have done the same thing. In the movie, Joe had the support and help of dozens of police officers. Who knows how much help he really had to solve these problems?   I received minimal to no help from school administrators, police officers, or teachers. I started walking the school hallways, using my school discipline plan in August and by December the school was under control, safe, and productive. The school no longer had a tardy problem. During that same period of time, I escorted three students to the AP’s office. How long did it take Joe Clark to bring the school under control? How many students had to be escorted to the office?  I would be willing to bet it took longer and many more students were run through the school discipline system.

I am no super man , but the school discipline system I created and used has superman qualities. The school discipline system is so simple and safe, parents can be invited in to help bring  a school under control. Teachers, administrators, and parents can work together and within a few weeks solve the discipline problems of your school. When a school solves the school discipline problem, that school has take the first step in solving all the other problems of the school.

Teachers, administrators, and parents no longer need to feel hopeless and frustrated about school discipline issues of bullying, tardiness, violence, or safety. Working together, using this school discipline plan, we can all become the ” Joe Clark’s” of our schools.

Recently in the news and politics of the day, the word entitlement has become a big word. Policemen, firefighters, and teachers have been labeled “entitled”.  Along with the label comes the inferences that these groups are fat, lazy, and not dedicated to their profession. Once these groups have been labeled fat, lazy, and unprofessional, the next natural progressions are the suggestions these groups are against capitalism and American ideals of hard work and democracy. Once again the word shift game has been played by the people with the power and money.

This happens quite often on the battlefields of education.  School districts and schools with the poorest children and the least resources are labeled as low-performing. The hardest working teachers and administrators in America are called entitled, lazy, unprofessional, and not dedicated to the students of  the United States. The students and parents of these schools end up with the same labels along with the tags- burden to society and a drain on our resources. These labels lead to the perception and belief that these people are getting what they deserve. There is also the perception these people are unable to raise themselves up by their own bootstraps.

My question to the the people at the top (with the money and power) is how can you call teachers, fireman, and police lazy and entitled when you have never worked these jobs?  Professions most of the 1% would quit in less than two years. The use of the word entitlement, however,  leaves the impression the people in these professions are undermining the core ethics of hard work, equal opportunity, and democracy.

In truth, who is really undermining the core values of the United States? Who in America is truly “entitled”? Bill Gates with your 56 billion are you working 56 million time harder than the average teacher, policeman, or firemen?  The Koch Brothers, Walton’s, investment bankers, etc. are you entitled to all this money?

The top 1% of the country, how can you really feel that you are entitled to 40% of the wealth of our country? Or do you hold the royal attitude that you deserve all this money? Do you hide your greed and entitlement behind the twin pillars of capitalism and democracy?

The United States of America needs a new and better system of capitalism. The business leaders, scholars, and professors need to devise a capitalist system  more aligned with the principles and freedom found in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of  The United States. A capitalist system should be created, that does not allow wealth and power of the country to be concentrated in the hands of the few. A capitalist system that will not let  people have an excuse and justification for their greed. We need a system that provides the just environment and proper rewards for innovators, risk takers, etc. to keep capitalism healthy and vigorous. As capitalism is kept health and vigorous, strategies, philosophies, and laws must be created to more evenly distribute the money of these companies.

Let’s use Bill Gates and Microsoft as one possible scenario for new capitalist system. Perhaps Bill Gates would be allowed to accumulate no more than one billion dollars in personal wealth. One billion dollars should be enough to stimulate most innovators and risk takers. The other 55 billion, you are not entitled to keep, this wealth must be put back into your company, the people of your company, or investments in America. Perhaps, a billion of those 55 billion dollars could be used to bring together all segments of the United States to create a better system of capitalism?

Maybe the people of the United States need to play the entitlement word shift game. Why should owners and managers of corporations be allowed to believe that they are entitled to  company jets and perks, extravagant salaries, and huge bonuses? Especially when their companies are know to be life-sucking parasites of  employees, families,  American communities, and America ideals.

The offspring of  our United States billionaires are not entitled to inherit all those billions. They did not work for the money. Those billions should go back to the people of American to invest in making the United States better.

When corporations and billionaires hire lobbyists, buy elections, and run their companies as dictatorships, they should not be entitled to say they are defenders of the Constitution of The United States and democratic ideals. They should be the last to say others are unpatriotic or not loyal to the United States. Especially, if they move their business to another country that suppresses human rights and human dignity.

This entitlement word shift game can be played out in many different ways. The underlying premise is the wrong people and groups are being called “entitled”.  The billionaires, elected officials, and corporate leaders need to look internally if they want to find entitled people.

If we find the truly entitled people  in the United States, the next game we should play is the transfer of blame game about who is truly responsible for America’s economic problems.

One definition of discipline: a set of consequences for bad behavior, often unpleasant, that will make a person change his or her behavior. The ultimate goal of discipline is to become self-disciplined.

America’s schools have experienced decades of bad behavior. The bad behavior problem  appears to be growing worse with each new decade. As a person who went to grade school in the 50’s and 60’s, I would say there is a huge difference, with each ensuing decade. Teachers retiring in the 80’s and 90′ referred to the 50’s  and 60’s as  “the good old days”  or  “the time when teaching was fun.”  The bad behavior, defiance, indifference, and lack of respect shown by students to school personnel in schools today would never have been  allowed or tolerated in the 50’s or 60’s. How did we get to this terrible state of affairs in our schools? How are we different and how are we the same in terms of how we look at discipline today as compared to the 50’s and 60’s?  How can we bring discipline and mutual respect back to our schools?

In the 50’s and 60’s, proper manners and respect for adults was demanded of students. Every adult was to be addressed with a “no maam” or “yes sir.” As in the military, you were expected to show respect and salute the uniform of the teacher. Any challenge to a teacher’s authority lead to severe consequences in the assistant principals office. These consequences, whether the paddle or a firm scolding were unpleasant enough to effect a change in behavior. Students maintained good behavior because they did not want to face these unpleasant consequences. As a result proper manners, good behavior, and mutual respect was the normal state of affairs in the classroom and school.

The 60’s and 70’s brought the Civil Right Movement, the Vietnam War Movement, and the Behaviorist  Theory Movement to American Schools. These movements greatly changed American schools. Each movement brought positive and necessary changes in thinking and behavior to America and America’s schools. As with all great issues there were  negative changes in thinking and behavior that accompanied the positive and necessary changes. In a future post, I will address the negative aspects of the Civil Rights Movement and the Vietnam War on American Education. The Behaviorist Theory, while bringing  many positive ideas and thoughts to America’s Education System, has also had a huge negative result on America and America’s Schools.

Behaviorist Theory Advocates believe that by paying attention to good behavior, you reinforce that behavior. A parent or disciplinarian should never display inappropriate behavior, anger, frustration, or disappointment. By displaying or paying attention to bad behavior, you reinforce that bad behavior. A parent must use only positive reinforcement, create a positive environment, smile, and turn the other cheek when hit in the face. By not reacting or paying attention to negative or bad behavior, you do not reinforce that behavior. Therefore, if you wish to extinguish a wrong behavior, do not acknowledge or punish bad behavior.

The Behaviorist Theory believes students who misbehave are seeking the reward of attention. Even as a child’s behavior gets worse and more dangerous, a parent must not reinforce that bad behavior. Eventually, the child realizes he can not get what he wants through bad behavior and extinguishes the bad behavior.  A student changes his behavior through positive reinforcement and rewarding good behavior. Only with positive reinforcement can a  student develop a positive self-image and attitude. With a positive reinforcement approach, students avoid the mental and emotional damage done by negative reinforcement.  Behaviorist Theorists believe negative reinforcement such as verbal confrontations, scolding, sarcasm, corporal punishment, etc. causes students to develop poor self-esteem, accept hitting as a way to solve problems, creates mental and emotional depression, and will scar their relationships with parents, friends, and society throughout their lives.

This Behaviorist Theory, which might work well with toddlers, has  became the underlying action plan and philosophy for America and America’s schools. If you find this hard to believe or have never heard of the Behaviorist Theory before, consider what has happened to discipline since the 1970’s.  In the 50’s if you misbehaved in public you were disciplined with a public spanking. Other adults would approach your parents and tell them they had done the right thing. The equivalent of the African proverb ” it takes a whole village to raise a child.”  Today, if you spank your child in public, people will write down your license plate number and call Child Protective Services. In the late 1980’s, I was talking to the dad of a physically abusive boy (Bully) that was making life miserable for other students. I suggested he use corporal punishment. The dad told me he had used a belt and the son had gone to CPS and reported on him. CPS had shown up at his house and warned him if he spanked his son again, they would take all his children from the house. He informed me that when it came to his son, he was no longer in the discipline business.

As the Behaviorist Theory inundated the school systems of America, discipline in the schools broke down. Students discovered that they could display a wide variety of bad behavior and expect little reprimand. Students learned they were relatively immune to any severe consequence and quickly lost respect for any adult in the school. Laughing at teachers as they try to maintain discipline with positive reinforcement becomes a game of seeing how far a teacher can be pushed before they break down or explode with anger. Beware  new teachers who are fresh out of college, you are armed with the Behaviorist Theory and you are facing students that have very little empathy or respect for adults.

Teachers are expected to maintain order using positive reinforcement. A teacher,who gets angry, shouts at a student, uses sarcasm or any negative reinforcement may be reprimanded by school personnel for destroying a student’s delicate emotional and mental balance.  It matters little if  the same student is destroying the emotional and mental balance of everyone in the class. Administrators look at discipline problems in the classroom as the result of bad classroom management or bad teaching techniques. Bad teachers are considered poor practitioners of  positive reinforcement techniques. Many administrators look at discipline problems in the classroom as consequences of negative reinforcement. A teacher who reprimanded a student may have destroyed his emotional and mental stability, along with his self-confidence causing his discipline problems to increase. Teachers end up in a no win situation–damned if they do and damned if they don’t use behaviorist theory.

Effects of the behaviorist theory are everywhere in school policy and philosophy. The idea that students should not receive F grades and the policy that students can not receive below a 50 on any school work have a Behaviorist base.

How can we bring back discipline and mutual respect to our schools?  Schools need to scrap-heap a large part of the behaviorist theory. Unpleasant consequences for bad behavior must be allowed back in schools. By now you must believe I am an advocate for corporal punishment in schools. I am not an advocate for corporal punishment for students in grades six through twelve. I don’t believe in corporate punishment after the age of eleven.  Teachers must be allowed to confront students and challenge students about their behavior. Adults must not be forced to cuddle discipline problems, but be allowed to call a jerk a jerk.

Great school discipline starts with the simple process of recognizing bad behavior and challenging bad behavior every time it is encountered. The simple paradigm shifts of not avoiding bad behavior, but instead attacking bad behavior and not asking for good behavior, but demanding good behavior will affect huge changes, for the better, in education. The next process is to show up time after time and provide an increasingly unpleasant consequence to stimulate a change in behavior. The concept that says by not paying attention to a problem and the problem will extinguish itself must be stricken from our educational philosophy. Follow these procedures and philosophy and  good discipline and mutual respect will return to our schools.

America must demand a great discipline plan. Our education system is being paralyzed by poor discipline. School discipline is the huge elephant in the room that no one will acknowledge. Everyone knows that the elephant is there but no one will step forward, because if you admit to having a discipline problem, you are now obligated to solving the problem. Very few people are stepping forward to address this problem head-on because they don’t see  any plausible solutions. America, we have a huge discipline problem. I am not afraid to say we have a discipline problem because I have a school discipline plan that works. This discipline plan has changed, low-performing, out-of-control schools into disciplined, safe, and productive schools.

The golden bullet that leads to solving all of America’s educational problems is great school discipline. Therefore, to start the process of solving school problems it is important to know and understand the differences between great school discipline and poor school discipline.

Great school discipline acknowledges a problem and develops  the will to solve the problem. Poor school discipline will not admit to a problem and points blame at others.  Great school discipline is the process of identify and solving big discipline problems and then identifying smaller and smaller discipline problems and solving them. This process leads to safe and productive schools.  Poor school discipline identifies and solves problems as they show up at the office. This process leads to more and more problems of increasing severity showing up at the office. This process leads to administrators being trapped in their offices and an increasingly unsafe and unproductive school environment.

The goals of mutual respect, proper manners, and proper individual and social behavior are constantly demanded by a great school discipline plan. This  plan demands the adults in a school to model, show, and teach these behaviors and skills.  Armed with respect toward students, proper manners, and behaviors, the adults of a school can confront bad behavior and thinking and demand a change in thinking and behavior. Poor school discipline sees these problems but has no mechanism or plan to solve the problems of lack of respect, poor manners, or bullying problems.

Great school discipline has consequences that change student behavior and a plan on how to deliver those consequences in an effective and efficient manner. Lecture And Pester (the first part of the school discipline system that I provide) offers  the mental consequences that changes student behavior. The Proactive and Persistent Discipline Plan (the second part of the school discipline system that I provide) offers an effective and efficient  system of constantly confronting students with the Lecture and Pester process. When these two processes are combined students change their behavior and schools become safe and productive.

Poor school discipline is the result of not having a process or philosophy of  mentally challenging students about their wrong behavior or thinking. Changing student behavior with detention halls, suspensions, and Saturday classes will not work with today’s student and  is a low percentage game. Throughout the school year the percentages decrease as students lose respect for the discipline system and the adults trying to enforce the discipline system. This downward process leads to bullying, out of control schools, community frustration, and low performing schools.

Every student in a school has a problem. Half of great school discipline is identifying and solving student problems. Often there is a underlying problem in a students life that causes a discipline problem. A great discipline plan is in the business of solving problems. When a school discipline plan solves problems more and more students bring more and more underlying problems forth to be solved. This leads to an upward spiral of happier students with less discipline problems. This upward spiral leads to high performing students and schools.

Great school discipline is a constant upward spiral. A great school discipline program does not stop when a school is safe and controlled. Every hour of every day, a great school discipline plan demands a higher level of achievement, responsibility, and self-discipline from each student, parent, teacher, and administrator. A disciplined school and student body will naturally develop programs and goals of ever higher success.

The underlying common factor for all of our education problems is poor school discipline. When the discipline problem is solved, the other educational problems in the school can be solved.

One of the big catch phrases in education is ” silver bullets.” Everyone is in search of silver bullets to solve problems in the educational battlefield. One group is looking for the silver bullet for the dropout problem. Another group is looking for the silver bullet for the bullying problem. Other groups are looking for silver bullets in the areas of student achievement, school budget shortfalls, teacher retention, etc. There appears to be silver bullets out there, somewhere, on the educational battlefield, that will solve our educational problems.

Some groups believe they have found the silver bullets that have the power to transform education. Bill Gates and the “Billionaire Boys Club” have found the silver bullet of Charter schools. Charter Schools have a nice, bright shine of silver bullets, but they have  lead cores. Generally, charter schools are artificially created success stories. High achievement, success, and good discipline is achieved by selective entry of “good students” and dismissal of “wrong” students. The Charter School Solution does not solve the problem of where are all the low-performers, discipline problems, ESL students, LEP students, special education students, etc. will go to school. If public schools disappear, the Charter Schools Solution is doomed to failure. The ‘Silver Bullet Charter School Reformers’ will discover their false solution was standing on the shoulders of hard-working, dedicated, and self-sacrificing public school teachers.

Mayor Bloomberg has found some different silver bullets. It appears all he needs is enough silver bullets to shoot all the bad teachers and union members and his educational problems will go away. Hopefully, he will have enough silver bullets for all the new “bad teachers” that appear and are created by poor test scores, bad  administrators,  lack of funding, poor school discipline systems and plans, low- performing students, or any other education problem.

President Obama and Arne Duncan have found their silver bullets in the ‘Race To The Top’ agenda and  ‘No Child Left Behind’ (NCLB). ‘The Race To The Top’ silver bullet has at its core  testing and the belief that only the  results of  tests can be the true indicators of success or failure. Only through constant testing can true silver be discovered. Everyone and everything must be tested and a value and a consequence assigned for each result. Poor test results demands a teacher to be fired, a neighborhood school closed, or a state denied funds. High test scores justify the argument and rational behind merit pay, charter schools, privatization of schools, and federal funding of schools. NCLB is the moral lightning rod and justification behind the ‘Race To The Top.’ They believe the combining of these two programs will lead America to the educational promised land.

There is such moral smugness about these programs created by the people at the top,  who as children were never left behind.  Race To The Top allows the blame for the achievement gap to be transferred to ” bad teachers”, ” bad administrators”, and “bad schools”. The inconvenient truth is the policies and programs created by people at the top have created these problems. For decades, we have know the schools with achievement problems. They are the schools with low funding, crumbling buildings, few resources, large class sizes, and segregated student bodies.

With the transfer of blame to others, Race To The Top policy makers can come up with more top down solutions for the problems. These solutions appear to be more and more testing, firing of teachers, closing of schools, privatizing schools, and providing funds to those that buy into Race To The Top policies.

No Child Left Behind works much the same way. The thoughts and concepts behind NCLB are noble and just. The problem is that much like Nancy Reagan’s “Just Say No To Drugs” campaign, NCLB is too simplistic and not based on reality. Nancy never had to walk home from school in a neighborhood controlled by violent gangs pushing drugs. Nancy was never in a situation where a no response could lead to a serious beating or death.

NCLB  is often used in a” bait and switch” way to transfer blame. The bait of NCLB is the truth that children have been left behind. The switch occurs as the truth is twisted to serve different agendas. The inconvenient truth, for the people at the top,  is the educational philosophies, policies, and programs created by people at the top has left half the children in America behind. The convenient truth is these same people are not held responsible for the failures of NCLB. Another convenient truth is that the parents, teachers, students, and schools that have suffered the most can now be made the scapegoats.  These scapegoat  groups should, next,  accept the blame for the problems in education.  After accepting the blame, these groups should also accept the punishments, sanctions, and new solutions presented by the people at the top.

Race To The Top and No Child Left Behind are doomed to failure. The people at the top confidently assume they have the answers to America’s educational problems. They came up with these answers without teaching , being a student, or living through any real life public school issue or situation. The elitist thinking of these programs is exposed in their solutions to educational problems. The solutions of charter schools, closing neighborhood schools, firing of “bad” teachers, etc.  are based on their school experiences.

This arrogant and elitist thinking never allows them to extend a hand down to the people that suffer the consequences of their decisions. This elitist thinking assumes that no solutions, thoughts, or educational programs could come from people living on the bottom rungs of the educational ladder. Only when the leaders at the top reach down and allow ideas, discussion, and solutions to bubble up from the bottom, will solutions to educational problems be found.

It appears everyone in education is looking for silver bullets to solve education problems. The truth is these silver bullets won’t work until you find the golden bullet. The golden bullet is fixing school discipline. America must demand good school discipline. When the school discipline problem is solved, all groups will be able to come together and work together to find and use the silver bullets.

P.S.      If you know anyone at the top, please let them know I have a discipline system and plan that will solve America’s discipline problem.

Hope:
1) to look forward to with desire and reasonable confidence
2) to believe, desire, or trust
3) to feel that something desired may happen

The  educational battle has heated up. Large foundations and “big money” people have entered the fray. Education reformers are to be found in many different forms with ever increasing passion and anger. Old voices and new voices argue passionately over every issue, every success, and every failure. The problems appear to be too big and too many to be solved. The arguments and anger of the combatants becomes more heated. On every issue there is less willingness to compromise or even to work together to solve the problem. The feeling of hopelessness, despair, and loss of hope grows in everyone. There appears to be no way to solve these problems.

Wait a minute, I have been through this process. This same educational battle was waged on a much smaller scale at Austin HS in the early 90’s. The Shared Decision Making Committee (SDMC)  made up of parents, students, teachers, administrators, and community leaders had fought the same educational battles. The SDMC, after many heated arguments and anger, eventually  realized what was the real problem.

Austin HS had every educational problem. The SDMC set up sub-committees for every educational issue. There were sub-committees for the school budget, school pride, student achievement, teacher performance, discipline, dropouts, etc. The sub-committees  and SDMC argued and sought solutions for every school problem for weeks. After months of meetings, very few solutions had come forth to solve our school problems. One huge truth had emerged from all the sub-committees and SDMC meetings. The underlying cause of most of our school problems was the school discipline problem. Until we solved the school discipline problem , we could not solve the other school problems and educational problems. The same truth applies to America, if we want to solve our problems in education, we must solve our school discipline problem. Fortunately, for America there is a school discipline plan that can solve our school discipline problem.

One saying goes, “Necessity is the mother of invention.” This saying rang true for the Discipline Committee of Austin HS. We, as a committee, argued and sought solutions for our discipline problems. Only when Ms. Judy Dew stood up and read a definition of discipline did we start to solve the problem. It’s the definition of discipline I still use today : a set of consequences for bad behavior, often unpleasant, that will make a person change their behavior. The ultimate goal of  discipline is to become self disciplined.” Contained within this definition are all the reasons America has a discipline problem and all the solutions to our discipline problems.

Eventually, I developed the Lecture and Pester methods and the Proactive and Persistent School Discipline System. The Lecture and Pester process delivers the unpleasant consequences that changes students behavior. The Proactive and Persistent School Discipline System is the process of identifying the biggest problems and going after these problems. The combining of the LP processes and P&P Discipline processes are efficient and effective in solving the school discipline problem. Quickly, 90-99 % of student discipline problems disappear without taking students to the office, detention halls, Saturday classes, etc.  The combining of these two systems puts time, numbers, and control of the discipline problem on the side of the adults.

Using L&P with P&P Discipline, I was able to, by myself, clear hundreds of students from the hallways, decrease the tardy problem to zero, increase in class instruction time by 20,000 hours each month, stop bullying, cut visits to the AP offices by 90-95 % , and save tens of thousand of dollars each month in vandalism and graffiti costs.

This is why I have hope for America. If I can affect these changes in a school by myself, what could parents, teachers, and administrators accomplish working this discipline system together in a school? What would be the results if every school in America used this discipline plan?

I believe every school in America can be made safe. I believe we can eliminate the bullying problem in schools. I believe the cost of disciplining students can be reduced by several billions of dollars each year. I believe this saved money can be used to solve school budgeting problems and other school financial problems. I believe that by solving the discipline problem, we will bring different groups together to solve other education problems. I believe solving the school discipline problem will lead to solutions for all other school problems.

There is hope for America’s public schools, and it is one discipline plan away.

The teaching profession  and teachers are a strange mixture. There is no greater profession. Without teachers there would be no doctors or lawyers. Without teaching, humans would be little more than protozoa. Teachers and society inherently understand the value of education.

Teachers have pride in their profession that few outside the profession comprehend or understand. Teachers receiving 40 year pins get standing ovations from the entire staff. As the staff claps, everyone expresses admiration and amazement at the fact that a human being could last so long in such a hard and unforgiving business.

Teachers, stay in the profession and fight on against incredible odds; much like a mother lion protects her cubs. Teachers know that without a teacher fighting for them, many students have little chance in life. This dedication and tenacity is both a blessing and curse.

The blessing of such passion are teachers that take on all challenges and obstacles in order to provide an education for students. These are the teachers who will fight through every humiliation, abuse, evaluation, or lack of respect provided by students, administrators, parents, and fellow teachers. I have known teachers that died  from stress, heart attacks and allergies to chalk dust, as their doctors begged them to leave the teaching profession.

This tenacity and determination to teach can also be a curse and a hindrance to the teaching profession. Teachers will  retreat to the classroom and lock the doors when dissension,  controversy, or issues become a problem. The classroom is the safe protected area where attacks and controversy can be avoided. One  of the quickest ways out of education is to challenge the principal or power structure of the school. Another quick ticket out is to question any policy, law, or theory about education. Also, a quick exit out is to say there might be a problem with discipline, student achievement, merit pay, teacher moral, or anything at all. In order to keep one’s job and help students it is often prudent to retreat to the classroom.

This retreat and isolation to the classroom has saved and prolonged many teaching careers. The retreat to the classroom and the isolation of the classroom is also a great weakness of the teaching profession. Because of this isolation and retreat by teachers to the classroom we have become the whipping boy of America. If there is a problem in education or America, then it is blamed on the teachers. We are the easy target that will not fight back.

Where is the collective will and voice of the American Teacher? When are we going to stand together and say enough is enough? When are we going to get mad enough to unlock the doors, step out of  classroom and fight for our students in the public arena? We are the sleeping giant of the professions. How many more Pearl Harbors do we have to endure before we wake up?

Teachers, we must wake up and take the whip from the insulting hand. The time has come to stand together on the local, district, state, and national levels to solve educational problems.

At the school level, honor and protect all teachers. We should honor and respect teachers of high performing classes and programs. We must also honor and respect teachers that take on the challenges of teaching low performing classes that also include individuals who may be a threat to society. We must not allow different forces and powers to divide the faculty into good teacher-bad teacher groups. There are few truly bad teachers in schools, there are many more bad teachers created by poor school discipline and policies. We must fight as one for the rules, policies, and attitudes that make us and the school the best.

The same process must occur at the district level. We must not allow low-performing, highly accredited school issues to  divide the profession. We do not allow Special Education students to be called low-performing. Perhaps there are schools in America that are more challenging than other schools?

At the state and national level, we must develop our voice and power to determine our future. We allow too many people outside our profession to speak for us. The policies, direction, and attitudes in the education arena are created without a strong input from teachers. Everyone else speaks up for teachers. The next time the Texas Legislature steps up to use funds from Teacher Retirement funds, may we have enough voice, unity, and political power to stop them.

As a nation we are aware of a huge bullying problem in our schools. Are we aware that not only the students are being bullied but also the teachers? As adults and teachers we must stand up to the bullying. The passive attitude of retreat and isolation must be replaced with an aggressive and united attitude. Teachers must develop the voice, unity, direction of purpose, and power to say,”WE WILL NOT BE THE WHIPPING BOY OF AMERICA”.

The sleeping giant of passiveness in the teaching profession must wake up. Only by waking up and standing up can we truly protect and fight for our students, the teaching profession, and the United States of America.

EDUCATIONAL SHELL GAMES

August 18, 2010

Movies from the 1930’s often show the “con game” where the con man has three peanut shells and one pea. The con man is matched up against someone trying to pick the correct shell the pea is under. A great con man is a manipulator and juggler of psychology, motivation, and odds. He knows the pigeon cannot win. The art of the con is keeping the pigeon and the crowd in the game, thinking they can win until they eventually lose. Educational shell games are set up the same way with the added bonus of the con men believing they are helping the pigeons win.

The Charter School concept is an educational shell game. Charter Schools  are the hidden pea under the shell. If you go to Charter Schools, then the gold will come your way. The idea is that Charter Schools will solve our education problem.

Charter Schools are a crooked shell game. They play the game with all the rules slanted their way. Charter schools pick  and choose who attends their schools. Only students that make a commitment to the school and themselves are allowed to attend. Students that fail to maintain this commitment and motivation are dismissed from the school.

Public schools cannot select who they want to teach. Public schools are required to teach whomever shows up. Therefore, when muggers, robbers, stalkers, and other categories of juvenile delinquents are released early from detention centers, they end up in public schools. The removal or expulsion of disruptive and dangerous students enrolled in public schools is a long and difficult process.

Years ago, Austin High School went on a campaign to expel disruptive and dangerous students from the school. Community leaders and politicians quietly and discretely asked the school not to expel so many students. An epidemic of break-ins, robberies, and vandalism were occurring in the neighborhood. Expelled students with too much time and opportunity were creating a serious problem for hard-working families. Austin H.S. cut the number of expulsions to the minimum.

Charter schools, magnet schools, etc. are set up to be successful. They are promoted as the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Everyone associated with these charter schools goes around high-fiving each other and patting each other on the back. All those associated with this charter school sham should take a second look at themselves. The heart and soul of teaching and saving America is the battle in low-performing inner city schools. Two years of teaching in tough schools would drive charter school teachers away from the profession. Real teachers fight the battle in old schools,with limited resources. They use their own money and time to reach as many students as possible. Every day they worry or cry about the ones they can not reach. They suffer further the indignity of being labeled low- performing by grading systems that do not test for real learning or teaching.

Testing is another pea in the shell game. Pass the test and you are high-performing. All schools have to do is pass the test and all of our educational problems will be solved. The gold will come when we have high test results.

We should ask some questions before playing this educational shell game.

How come they keep changing the name of the state mandated tests? In Texas , we have had TAAS, TAKS, TAGS titles for tests.

The first year I taught I was excited because our students had improved so dramatically. The test scores had gone up in every area. The dean of instruction quickly tempered my excitement. He told me the principal had opted out to take the easy Metropolitan Achievement Test. The dean said there were different levels of difficulty to the same test. The principal decided how he was going to explain the test results. Either test results were lower because the test was harder this year or test results are higher because of exceptionally hard work by students,teachers, and administrators.

The constant improvement in schools and districts tests scores and rankings for the past 20 years can not be rationally explained without changing the name of the test. By changing the name of the test are we playing an educational shell game?

Why are colleges saying students are less prepared for college? Why has the time new college students need to be in remedial classes increased over the years? Why do we have these trends in colleges when test scores and the number of exceptional and recognized schools has been going up decade after decade? Why do we put such faith in these tests when there has been no clinical studies to determine if these tests really test what they are suppose to test? Where are the tests to check how well prepared students are for life? Teachers teach the whole student. Teachers teach the rules and values of civilized society. Without the rules, ethics, philosophy social behavior, courtesy, respect for others, desire to learn, will to win, and teamwork taught by teachers and coaches, I believe our democratic society would have disappeared long ago.

How does the increasing number of dropouts and lower graduation percentages correlate with 20 years of improved test scores and higher school rankings? Hello!!! Are we looking at a bunch of educational shell games?

All this shuffling of peas in the educational shell game. These fixes will not solve our educational problems. The key to solving educational problems is establishing well-disciplined schools. Charter schools establish discipline by selective enrollment, picking students that have made a commitment, and dismissing students that do not fit into the mold. Public schools will be as successful as charter schools when discipline is established in our public schools.

One final thought, Professor Steven Unwin informs me that the word “education” has  Greek roots. In Greek, education also means “to lead out of.” Therefore, teaching is more than passing tests. Teaching is also leading students out of poverty, out of ignorance, and out of the darkness of despair to the light of hope.

School budgets across America are at a breaking point. Teachers are losing their jobs. Schools are closing. Enrichment programs and extra curricular activities are disappearing. School administrators are searching and asking for more money. President Obama is predicting more teaching jobs will be lost. School districts are facing huge shortfalls or deficits in their financial pictures. Why are we in this current situation?

The main contributor to our current school financial disaster is years and years of poor discipline in our schools. Poor discipline leads to billions of dollars being wasted each year. American schools can solve their financial problems by fixing their school discipline systems.

How can I make such statements? Because of what I have seen and experienced in the school system. It’s devastating. However, I have also implemented a school discipline program that quickly and effectively reversed the loss of money created by bad discipline.

My observations and statements have no statistical backing. Hopefully, common sense and rational thinking will overcome the need for statistical support. Personally, after years in school systems I don’t trust school statistics.

Austin High School  in the 1990’s had 3,000-3,400 students. The school had five full time police officers assigned to the school. Two Houston ISD officers, two Houston Police Department officers and one substance abuse monitor(SAM) made up the police force. Houston ISD has several hundred police officers on their payroll. These officers need cars, offices, command centers, communication devices, etc. Millions and millions of dollars spent each year for a police presence in schools.

Vandalism was rampant in the school. Windows and doors were constantly broken. The plumbing and toilets were persistent targets. The flooding of hallways and bathrooms were not an uncommon occurrence. How many tens of thousands of dollars were used for constant maintenance?

Graffiti covered every wall and door of the school. The plant operator and several custodians worked one or two days a weekend painting over graffiti, and the  anti-graffiti paint was very expensive. Thousands and thousands of dollars were spent every month on this anti-graffiti campaign.

Poor discipline starts adding up to real money when you start factoring in the cost of alternative schools, detention referral centers, after school detention halls, Saturday detention sessions, and extra assistant principals and secretaries to handle heavy work loads. Millions and millions of dollars involved in this process.

The above expenses are some of the more visible costs of poor discipline. The covert costs of poor discipline permeates throughout our society.

The major contributor to our dropout rate is poor school discipline. Students drop out of school when they feel vulnerable and at risk. Just saying ‘no’ and avoiding gangs and bullies are not possible in undisciplined schools. Poorly disciplined schools lead to situations where tens of thousands of instructional hours are lost each month. Schools lose money that come from average daily attendance and higher test scores. When bullies and disruptive students destroy the learning environment of a classroom, how much money is being lost?

The dropout and discipline problem becomes a billions and billions of dollars problem. Communities start after-school programs to try and reach these students. Community colleges and four-year universities are adding more remedial classes and time in an effort to get students to the college level. All these duplicate programs being implemented to get students to an acceptable level of knowledge and life skills. Then, let’s add more billions as the U.S. builds more jails to house those that don’t have the skills or knowledge to make society better. We all know it costs much more to jail a person than educate a person.

Finally, the U.S. loses an unmeasurable amount of money each year as our population becomes less educated. In an increasing competitive world we are less able to compete.

Therefore, if we truly want to balance our school and national budgets, we must fix our school discipline problems.