Saturday, December 13, 2008

APS students are out of control

One of the biggest reasons behind the lack of educational
success in the APS, is one that no one will talk about,
certainly not administrators, upon who's shoulders the
responsibility lies. APS students are out of control.

I submit the following as metaphor for the out of control
rather than an example of it, because there are elements of
it that could have happened anywhere, effective administration
or not.

A skydiver landed at a local middle and students were injured
in the resulting stampede. link

The stampede can be chalked up to youthful enthusiasm.

The refusal of the students obey adults who told them to stop,

I have been there. I have walked up on fist fights, told the
crowd to disperse, and then been ignored.

I have told students to settle down in class, and then been ignored.

Adults have lost their authority over students; in and out of
the classroom. This loss of authority is a key factor in the
ongoing negative influence of chronically disruptive students.

Administrators are charged, in the negotiated agreement
between teachers and the district,
with enforcing the school's discipline policies.
I would suggest that most teachers do not believe that
the administration backs them up.

There is no hard data to corroborate my assertion.
But only because the administration refuses to compile data.

APS and UNM used to collaborate on a yearly survey of teachers.
Several of the questions had to do with the amount of time that
teachers lost every day as the direct result of student misbehavior.

A significant number of teachers reported a significant amount
of time regularly lost managing the behavior of recalcitrant kids.

Suddenly, the questions disappeared from the survey.
When I asked why the questions were no longer asked,
I was told "because the numbers never changed."

I would suggest that the questions were removed because the
data they produced reflects badly on an administration
who's job it is, to back up teachers who have kids with discipline

Nowhere in the evaluation process for school principals,
is data gathered from staff regarding their feelings about
whether on not the administrator is a good or effective
disciplinarian. The question is not asked for a reason.

Unless teachers have meaningful and enforceable authority over
students, learning will suffer. Not only for the kids who
misbehave regularly, but for the other students in their classes.

I used to believe that any student who wanted an education
could get one. I did not believe that anymore at the end of my
career. I had seen the curriculum watered down too far, and too
many classes out of control, to continue to make that argument.

Anyone who cares to experience this issue first hand,
needs only to substitute teach for one day.

Tell a few students to stop doing what they want to do, and to
start doing what they should be doing, and see what happens.

The leadership of the APS cannot show you a written discipline
philosophy; not even a badly written one.

The leadership of the APS has never taken the time to compile
the shared beliefs of stakeholders, to form a foundation for
discipline policies.

The result is a bunch of policies with no common grounds, and
often in conflict with each other. It makes it nearly impossible
to enforce those policies, which undermines the authority of
teachers over students,

and ultimately results in students trampling each other
in an effort to indulge their childish wants.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

We were talking about this in a middle school lunchroom the other day.
It's a sick system because APS head honchos don't want reports of bad activity in their schools because head-honcho realators lean on them. Therefroe the onsite administrators don't want to report discipline problenms because head-honcho APS will lay into them. Therefore, local admins will not punish students because there can be no recorded process that could prove this conspiracy of controlling the "pretty sweet neighborhoods" image.
Thus, the teacher must be the enforcer, must be the role model, must take the heat and liability when something gies wrong, like when an administrator returns a psyco-pervert kid to the classroom w/o punishment (and it happens often!).
People are giving kudos that Ellen Bernstein is finally getting off her ass at the Union Office and trying to address the Discippline issue with administrators in Dec & Jan. Supposedly,she did this last year, but with no effect. Maybe Ellen will get it right this time? (In case you can't tell I'm disgusted at this particular union).
Let's see what happens. I doubt anything will really change. As usual, APS will vow to do bettter, and Ellen will take photo shoot and write an cutesy article, then probably never do any follow up, as usual.