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.

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Everyone knows that we must do something to improve our schools.  There is so much yelling, screaming, and argument about public education. Administrators, teachers, parents, and students are frustrated and anxious about the safety, achievement level, and money needed for good education.

As parents, teachers, and administrators we all want the same thing. We want the best education for our children. As a discipline committee, and chairman of the discipline committee, we argued for weeks about education and the problems of our school. The first discovery made by the discipline committee was no other school problems could be solved without good school discipline. Solve the school discipline problem and problems of dropouts, attendance, bullies, and achievement disappear. Every school problem has at its core a discipline problem. If we solve the discipline problem in our schools, we will solve the money problems of our school systems. Billions of dollars are wasted on poor school discipline.

The second discovery of the discipline committee  was we needed a definition of discipline. As a committee we argued about discipline for weeks. We argued about all the problems of the school: violence, drop out rates, tardiness, bullies, poor achievement levels, etc. In truth, we were arguing about the effects of poor discipline. Our country is doing much of the same thing as the school discipline committee did at Austin High School. We all knew where we wanted to go and we all know what discipline should look like, felt like, and should be. We never solved any problems until we came up with a definition of discipline.  The definition of discipline I now use is:

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

Contained within this definition of discipline is the reason and solution for all our school problems. Our schools don’t have effective consequences for bad behavior. Too many students don’t change their behavior. Hard working teachers, parents, and administrators are overwhelmed with ever-increasing numbers of discipline problems. The problems of our education system is not caused by a shortage of hard-working, dedicated, and professional administrators and teachers. We, as a society, are left with arguing over the effects of bad discipline.

The second major problem in our schools is an ineffective and inefficient system of administering school discipline. The consequences that are intact in public schools now are ineffective and do little to solve the problem of discipline. School personnel are burdened with a system of office visits, paperwork, and record keeping that overwhelms everyone involved. The combining of an ineffective and inefficient school discipline system with consequences that don’t change behavior lead to Columbine-type situations.

There are thousands of schools in the U.S. with huge discipline problems. This leads to a third huge problem. A problem solving strategy of denial, blaming others, or minimizing the problem of discipline within a school. These strategies indicate a lack of success with the current discipline systems and set of consequences available to school personal.

I am starting this blog to change the way we look at school discipline. I know how to establish an effective and efficient school discipline system that combines a set of consequences, which I call Lecture and Pester, that changes student behavior and will quickly allow our schools to succeed.

Please help me in this process of changing the way we look at educational problems and how to solve these problems. I will continue to be blogging about different issues and solutions that will transform our public education system.