Friday, February 26, 2010

Weapons in APS a manifestation of the out of control, in schools

Weapons in APS schools, link.

Students in the APS are out of control. Students in the APS are "in charge" in schools.

If an adult makes a rule, and a student deliberately ignores it, who is in charge?

The leadership of the APS has steadily and relentlessly backed off of holding students actually accountable for their deliberate misconduct. Chronically disruptive students are routinely given back to teachers, who have virtually no power or resources to deal with their problems, and told to "deal with it".

I have in my records a discipline referral that I submitted on a chronically disruptive middle school student who was throwing rocks at elementary school students. A post-it note was stuck on the referral by then Assistant Principal Michael McNamara reading in effect;

Ched, in the future please handle this and similar situations yourself.
When we were children, we pushed against the envelope; we tried to chew gum in class, some of the worst of us brought a cigarette to school. Those days are long gone. The envelope now includes drugs, weapons, bullying, and any number of misdemeanors that were unthinkable in our world. Can you imagine having looked a teacher in the eye, and refused to obey them when they told you to stop doing something?

APS publishes a pamphlet called the Student Behavior Handbook, link. Within it are; Minimum Mandatory Consequences. Minimum mandatory consequences are the district's assurance to teachers that if they shoulder the consequences of reporting a student's misbehavior, the student will receive at least some minimum consequence.

On page two of the Handbook, the "weasel clause";
Nothing in the following is intended to prevent a staff member, teacher, principal or other administrator from using his/her best judgment with respect to a particular situation.
Though it seems to give some latitude to staff members and teachers, it is in reality, the opportunity for site administrators to excuse themselves from confronting parents who are invariably upset that their child is being punished for some misdemeanor at school.

"Best judgment" is not subject to review; it requires neither explanation or defense. When a principal chooses to send a student back to class without having meted out any meaningful consequence, their failure is excused by simply arguing "best judgment".

If a survey of teachers were done, it will not, the survey would show that a significant number of teachers believe there are students who routinely disrupt the learning process in their classrooms and schools, and nothing is done about them.

And that is why the survey will never been done.

This despite the fact that taxpayers pay hundreds of thousands of dollars every year to fund a department in the APS whose job it should be to conduct just such a survey;
APS' Research, Development, and Accountability Department.

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