Criminalizing kids

I’m all for schools enforcing discipline. But not by calling the cops on kids who haven’t committed a crime. It’s a trend, says the New York Times. Instead of being sent to the principal’s office, unruly students are being sent to jail.

TOLEDO, Ohio — The 14-year-old girl arrived at school here on Oct. 17 wearing a low-cut midriff top under an unbuttoned sweater. It was a clear violation of the dress code, and school officials gave her a bowling shirt to put on. She refused. Her mother came to the school with an oversize T-shirt. She refused to wear that, too.

“It was real ugly,” said the girl, whose mother did not want her to be identified.

It was a standoff. So the city police officer assigned to the school handcuffed the girl, put her in a police car and took her to the detention center at the Lucas County juvenile courthouse. She was booked on a misdemeanor charge and placed in a holding cell for several hours, until her mother, a 34-year-old vending machine technician, got off work and picked her up.

She was one of more than two dozen students in Toledo who were arrested in school in October for offenses like being loud and disruptive, cursing at school officials, shouting at classmates and violating the dress code. They had all violated the city’s safe school ordinance.

A local court official says only 2 percent of students referred to the juvenile justice system had committed a serious offense, such as assaulting a teacher.

Zero-tolerance policies, cuts in mental health services and the presence of police officers in schools have encouraged the criminalization of student misbehavior. Principals don’t believe students will be impressed by a threat to call the parents. Many parents also seem to have ceded authority.

Arrests in the past year or so include two middle school boys whose crime was turning off the lights in the girls’ bathroom and an 11-year-old girl who was arrested for “hiding out in the school and not going to class,” according to the police report, which also noted, “The suspect continuously does not listen in class and disrupts the learning process of other students.”

The girl’s mother, who declined to be named, said, “I told them if she didn’t want to go to school, put her in the detention center.” The police took her daughter there in handcuffs, in the back of a police car.

This policy is just crazy.

About Joanne

Comments

  1. D. Cooper says:

    I don’t think that jailing students is all that much of a trend rather than more of an indicator of a larger problem. Parent’s certainly have ceded authority … because they haven’t any of their own. The mother who couldn’t get her daughter to put the tee shirt on should have been jailed, instead of the daughter. How’d she get out of the house in the first place ?? Too often the parent would come to school to defend the outrageous ‘outfits’ … seen them all … taught high school for 35 years !!! You’d have to see ’em to believe ’em !!

  2. Walter E. Wallis says:

    E for expulsion. School can not be all things to all people. Systems and people should know their limits.

  3. Seems like the trend is to make it more and more difficult to impose minor sanctions, like throwing a kid out of class…so that all that is left is major sanctions, like throwing the kid in jail. What’s next? Lethal injection for sassing the teacher?

  4. D. Cooper says:

    School was never meant to be all things to all people…just a place to get a base line then become what you will. No one has the right to deny that privilege to anyone !!! It is a privilege you know !! Privileges may be taken away !!! E for expulsion !

  5. D. Cooper says:

    I don’t know if you’ve even been a teacher David, but the leathal injection may be a bit harsh .. on the other hand unless you were ever in a classroom, I doubt you have any idea what ‘sassing the teacher’ is these days … it ain’t very nice and can’t be printed here !! I don’t advocate the ‘E’ word but a slap on the wrist isn’t cutting it !!

  6. Walter E. Wallis says:

    Several years ago, a new super in Frisco called in all the principals and told them their jobs depended on reducing minority expulsions. Expulsions were cut, and classroom violence soared. My only teaching experience was in the army where I could make defaulters peel potatoes, but I cannot conceive any classroom where the teacher is denied authority. Pilots should carry guns and teachers should carry expulsion authority. Anything less is madness. No one not trusted with their weapon should be entrusted with their job.

  7. Agreed. It is crazy, but _why_ is it crazy, and how did we get here, and what are we able to do about it?

    The moral shift that has affected parenting and schools and their modes of discipline were bound to create difficulties. This, unfortunately is a multi-facted problem which we may trace to its roots, but will prove stubborn to solve.

    Maybe we could start with more encouragement for parents and less blame. As for the schools and what they may reform – I have no ideas, but I hope someone does. I really do hope for that.

  8. D, Cooper says:

    Walter, you’ve been away too long from a ‘real’ classroom. Start to conceive because teacher’s have very little authority. It’s a bit of a stretch to give teachers expulsion authority. However right now the authority is a little left of center …. it doesn’t need to be in the teacher’s arsenal if you will, but a few less hoops would be appreciated. Short of ‘serious’ physical harm to another student or teacher … expulsion is like passing a camel through the eye of … well you know !!!

  9. Walter E. Wallis says:

    If only teachers had chosen to remain professionals rather than to turn over their bargaining to a labor union. No professional would allow classroom control to be taken away.

  10. Wlater, I was also in a classroom when principals were told to cut minority suspensions. As a result, at schools where whites were a minority, ANY offense could get a white kid suspended (no matter what the numbers, whites were NEVER considered a minority), but even a teacher assault wouldn’t get a minority kid kicked out of class. There was a fight in homeroom one day, where the black kid started it and finished it. The white kid made a defensive jab, never landing a punch. The black kid was a 6 foot seventh grader, with muscle, the white kid was a nerdy little thing.

    The white kid was suspended for 10 days for getting the sh** kicked out of him, the black kid never missed a class.

  11. If only teachers had chosen to remain professionals rather than to turn over their bargaining to a labor union. No professional would allow classroom control to be taken away.

    Walter, are you serious?

  12. Walter E. Wallis says:

    We tried it with the industrial union model and look where it got us. Ask pre-union elders about the efficacy of the blacklist.

  13. D Anghelone says:

    Seems like the trend is to make it more and more difficult to impose minor sanctions, like throwing a kid out of class…so that all that is left is major sanctions, like throwing the kid in jail.

    A long-term trend and not just in school. Used to be (in NYC,anyway) that a pissed-off looking cop would point a nightstick at you and say something like, “Put that f***ing cigarette out!” (f-word mandatory) and your compliance would end the thing. Such “minor sanctions” are now no-no so the infraction is ignored or escalated to the point of the kid getting an arrest record.

  14. D Cooper…I’m actually on your side on this, I believe. I want to give teachers & principals appropriate authority so that kids can get reined in before it becomes a police matter. When it does rise to violence or credible threats of same, I have no problem with bringing in the cops. My point, which may have been badly stated, is that denying appropriate authority to the teachers winds up allowing things to escalate.

  15. D. Cooper says:

    Walter, you know not from where you talketh … teacher unions have very little to do with any deterioation of classroom discipline and if anything have faught to help maintain it. It begins (or ends) with teachers not being supported by principals, principles not being suppported by the administration, administration not being supported by the school board, and ultimately the lack of suppport from parents. Teaching kids and manufacturing automobiles are not the same … the parts on the assembly line don’t talk back !!! And, schools are not assembly lines, and students are not parts.

  16. Steve LaBonne says:

    Let’s not forget to save an unkind thought for litigious parents and the lawyers who profit from them- they are largely responsible for things having come to this pass.

  17. Independant George says:

    Interesting comments, but there’s another issue I think we’re overlooking here – what happens when the police start spending more time hauling unruly kids to detention centers than they do on the streets, trying to prevent real crimes? I want my cops to keep me from getting mugged at the train station, not locking up kids for violating the dress code.

  18. D. Cooper says:

    I. George … you’ve heard a few instances of police in schools … dragging kids to detention centers is hardly a trend or an issue. And if a few more parents took a look at the trash their little darlings wear leaving the house in the morning (not to mention, a reasonable curfew and a homework check) we’d be a lot better off. Those kids mugging you probably belong in school !!!

  19. Andy Freeman says:

    > teacher unions have very little to do with any deterioration of classroom discipline and if anything have fought to help maintain it.

    Great! Supporting cites please.

  20. D, Cooper says:

    Andy, here’s three for starters … I could fill the page …One of these is from a school district near where I’ve taught for over 30 years. I’m assuming you disagree, but I don’t know of any teacher union that hasn’t faught vigorously to support teachers in the classroom. From where are you speaking? Sounds like left field.

    1.)http://www.pbs.org/newshour/backgrounders/teachers_unions.html
    2.)http://www.educationpolicy.org/EPIseries/parent-bklt.
    htm
    3.)http://www.nbto.org/Whyunions.htm

  21. Walter E. Wallis says:

    When teachers ceded the right to negotiate working conditions to the union, they gave up any effective advocacy of their individual concerns.
    The unions are more interested in union or agency shop contracts, because then the membership is coerced and the teachers pay dues and shut up. When teachers decertify a union for the union’s failure to demand classroom peace, perhaps that peace will arrive. Unions are responsive to membership only when membership is voluntary. I say this as a former member of 5 different unions, an officer in one and an honorary withdrawer from a craft union.
    I agree with Steve about litigous parents and rapacious layers.

  22. This girl wasn’t jailed for a dress code violation, she was jailed for refusing to comply after she was caught. Its like resisting arrest for speeding. Speeding isn’t a felony, but when you take off after the lights go on, you have committed a felony.
    The girl got what she deserved. Yes, its sad that it has come to this, but there is a power vaccuum in the classroom, and enough people are afraid of teachers holding this power.

  23. Patrick Pruitt says:

    19 comments and only 3 mention the parents’ responsibility in teaching and enforcing discipline. This is sad. It is NOT the teacher’s job to instill discipline. Because parents are allowed to ignore their duty, teachers are now being forced to do it for them. When the 14-year old refused to wear appropriate clothing, both her and her mother should have been held accountable. When I was growing up, corporal punishment was still alive and well in our public schools. If given a choice between my parents being called or getting beaten by a wooden paddle, I’d have chosen the paddle every time because facing my parent’s would have been much worse.

  24. D. Cooper says:

    Patrick … thank you … unfortunately all 3 of those comments mentioning the parents came from me !!! It’s very unfortunate but too often once you’ve met the parents you understand !!! Don’t get me wrong, the vast majority of parents are very supportive of teachers … but when a major discipline problem arises these are not the parents you see.
    This is a deeply rooted problem in todays culture and ‘finger pointing’ is the defense of choice … but 20 years ago no student would think of telling a teacher to ‘go f— off’ … not so today !!!

  25. PJ/Maryland says:

    My first reaction to the article is, if Advil gets you expelled, I guess we have to expect that dress code infractions lead to being arrested.

    The problem seems to be that the school has no backup punishment. It sounds like the girl’s dress code violation would have been ignored if she had put on the bowling shirt, or the T-shirt her mom brought to school. As Geoff says above, she refused to do either, and so was arrested.

    Doesn’t the school have any in-house detention? It sounds like they’re using the local jail as the equivalent.

    But not to worry, the district’s chief academic officer Craig Cotner has a list of excuses: thirty years ago, such students used to drop out and go work in factories (yes, I’m sure lots of 14 year old girls did that in the 1970s); the school district has “fewer resources to handle difficult students”; they’ve recently had to cut their budget; and besides, the NCLB act forces them to spend on other things.

    At least we can be sure the Toledo school district is not wasting money on their website. There’s a link to the 2001-02 Annual Budget in PDF form, but it doesn’t work. (Attention Toledo: the rest of the country is now in its 2003-04 school year.) But the “overview” for 2002-03 says the district budget was $320 million, so the $15 million shortfall last year was less than 5% of the total. (The NY Times says that this resulted in Toledo laying off 10% of their teachers; I’m guessing these were part-timers, but even so it suggests where Toledo’s priorities lie.)

    By laying off teachers, Toledo has maintained their corps of crack administrators. Maybe they can take some time from inventing excuses to actually reassess their student punishment policies.

  26. You can blame the courts, starting with the Supreme Court, for this. Several decades of extending “due process” rights to students accused of breaking school rules have deprived administrators of all practicl day-to-day, punishment-on-the-spot authority, and left administrators with little choice but to call the cops. Give power back to principals and they’ll stop calling the cops. It’s that simple.

  27. Well, I kind of like the idea of calling the cops on kids that refuse to cooperate.

  28. The classroom would be a great place to work if it weren’t for the students……

  29. Insufficiently Sensitive says:

    Reading down the list of comments, it’s rather a shock to see such lousy spelling coming from posters posing as teachers. What gives?

  30. D. Cooper says:

    If it’s me … I’m claiming LLLS (Limited Letter Location Syndrome) …everything okay here???, Mr. nit picker !!
    This is an informal exchange of ideas … a misspelled word or two may appear inadverently here and there. There’s no need to get your boxes in a bunch over it. Just what we need, another teacher basher !!! Actually I’d prefer you be called Sufficiently Insensitive !!!

    Now, how about arguing the point !!

  31. D. Cooper says:

    See what you made me do … boxers !!! not boxes !!

  32. Andy Freeman says:

    > I could fill the page

    Really?

    The PBS cite doesn’t support the “[teachers unions] have fought to help maintain [classroom discipline]” claim. (Disagree? Quote the relevant section.)

    http://www.educationpolicy.org/EPIseries/parent-bklt.htm doesn’t mention “discipline” wrt student behavior and the word “behavior” only appears in the title of a DOE publication. (It does mention the need for security, but that’s different, espec as “In addition, however, the unions have turned the issue of safety into a vehicle for greater ‘diversity’.”) There may be some AFT resolutions on the subject, but ….

    http://www.nbto.org/Whyunions.htm does mention discipline, stating that teachers’ unions are pushing for “zero tolerance discipline codes”. To the extent that that’s actually true, that’s a bad thing. (The AFT seems to think that zero tolerance is the same as equal treatment for equal offense, regardless of status. It’s wrong.)

    How about some cites that actually do support the claim, are from independent sources, and show that teachers unions are DOING the right thing?

    I’m not looking for policy papers. I’m looking for something along the lines of a “teachers threatened to strike if appropriate discipline procedures were not instituted” story in a newspaper. Or a third-party report of a successful negotiation.

    > From where are you speaking? Sounds like left field.

    For extra credit, name the logical fallacy in the above implication.

    However, if it helps, I’m Satan and all teachers are saints.

  33. Spelling? Didn’t we already have this conversation?

  34. Insufficiently Sensitive says:

    Suffice it to say, that your credibility in a purportedly intelligent discussion drops 10% with each spelling glitch, and 20% with each misplaced apostrophe. At least when read by insufficiently careless readers.

  35. Insufficiently Sensitive – How much of a drop for a superfluous comma or for a sentence fragment?

  36. In theory, administration handles discipline because they have the whole picture and can (again, in theory) be consistent. I have no idea what students are up to when out of my classroom; the admin. would know that a student has been kicked out of class three times that day already when I send him/her down for an infraction. The system works when all parties are living up to their end of the bargain.

    As for the police and teens, they’re *very* happy when the kids are back in school.

  37. >>I don’t think that jailing students is all that much of a trend rather than more of an indicator of a larger problem. Parent’s certainly have ceded authority … because they haven’t any of their own. The mother who couldn’t get her daughter to put the tee shirt on should have been jailed, instead of the daughter. How’d she get out of the house in the first place ?? Too often the parent would come to school to defend the outrageous ‘outfits’ … seen them all … taught high school for 35 years !!! You’d have to see ’em to believe ’em !!

  38. >>Privileges may be taken away !!! E for expulsion !

    Posted by D. Cooper at January 4, 2004 08:32 PM

  39. Having formerly been a unionized teacher, I agree that unions don’t help with classroom discipline, but indirectly; they preserve the jobs of idiots who shouldn’t be teaching, and therefore damage the credibility of all teachers.

    As far as these kids are concerned, they should fight the citations on constitutional grounds; this “safe schools” ordinance can’t be constitutional. I’d have to see it to know more, but sounds like a void-for-vagueness issue, or an improper delegation of legislative authority to the schools. In other words, it’s complete bullshit.

  40. D. Cooper says:

    So Andy, or shall I call you angry … I’m not quite sure what it is that has you all up in a tizzie. If you apply a little logic here, what benefit would any teacher union have in not supporting teachers and their need for disciplinary assistance in the classroom. Teacher unions have always fought to control class size for a variety of reasons … one being to make classrooms more manageable. Teachers and their unions along with administration are constantly searching for successful programs to manage difficult students. Your assertion that teacher unions are somehow disinterested in improving classroom behavior is somewhat of a puzzle to me. I’d be more that suprised to learn that you were ever a teacher. If so, you couldn’t have been a very happy camper. I’ve taught for 35 years and have belonged to a union for as long ….. never has such been the case as you suggest. Rather than me looking for specifics that you are in need of, you find a cite or two to support your assertion.

    If there is some logial fallacy in ..> From where are you speaking? Sounds like left field. > .. I’m not seeing it … my guess is fallacy or not ,most who read it, think I think you’re out there. And that was my point just in case you missed it.

    And as for the spelling bee champion (Sufficiently Insensitive) .. you need to find something else to do other that running around trying to put MS Word’s spell checker out of business. You’re getting a 50% deduction for being obnoxious !!! And another 25% if come back with another annoying comment !!

  41. Insufficiently Sensitive says:

    Me? OBNOXIOUS? But I was just working in the best interest of The Children, and everyone knows that trumps all – particularly regarding the manners that certain others employ in ultra-intellectual skirmishes such as this one, union members or not.

    Besides, if I get enough demerits I can deduct them from my gross income in April, and thereby cause all other taxpayers to pungle up joost a leetle more for the body politic. See how well Doug busted me already.

  42. D. Cooper says:

    IS … Just for the record, I’m going to let you slide a bit here. I actually agreed with one of your comments on the calculator fracas article. And of course I assume you weren’t referring to my ‘manners’, only spelling .. right ?? What did I misspell anyway ??

    You aren’t satan of course, are you ??? But I do work for the IRS now and I’ll be looking for that tax return. It better be uo to snuff.

    BTW … where’s grumpy ??

  43. ***Julie*** says:

    >>This girl wasn’t jailed for a dress code violation, she was jailed for refusing to comply after she was caught. (Geoff M)

    Very true, I agree with you Geoff! Also, I would like to say that I battle the “mundane” issues with students everyday. The fact of the matter is, there are students who would rather not be in school, so they do things to get out of class. This girl may have dressed properly in the morning, and changed in school — I have seen it. The girls restroom across from my class is filled every morning and afternoon. They share clothes, or use their locker as a second closet to keep the clothes their mothers may not approve of. (Friends always volunteer to bring it home and put it in with their laundry) Kids use the system to get out of class. I keep an ugly old painted on XXL oxford in my classroom. Girls know that they have to wear it if they come to class in violation of the dress code. Many only mess up once. (They have to wear it all day and return it to me at the end of the day.) Call me crazy, but it works. It’s just one of those things that I don’t make a very big deal out of, and then students can’t make a power play over it. Wear the shirt or go to the office. If they refuse, I write a one hour detention for afterschool (or worse, and early bird detention — just incase they use the “I have a job” excuse) and then they are off to the office. I found that it works for me!

  44. Walter E. Wallis says:

    Teachers unions fight for lower class size because that results in more teachers which, with mandatory union membership means more dues, which means more political clout, which means…

    If teachers fought for the return of their classroom authority, they could get it.

  45. Andy Freeman says:

    > I’m not quite sure what it is that has you all up in a tizzie.

    I’m not in a tizzie. I asked for some supporting evidence for a claim and repeated my request when the first of cites didn’t even come close.

    > If you apply a little logic here, what benefit would any teacher union have in not supporting teachers and their need for disciplinary assistance in the classroom.

    That logic merely makes the claim plausible – it doesn’t make it true.

    I note that we’ve gone from “I could fill the page” to the above “logic”.

    > Your assertion that teacher unions are somehow disinterested in improving classroom behavior is somewhat of a puzzle to me.

    I’ve made no such assertion. However, the “argument” offered in support of the claim that they do actually care suggests that either the claim is false or that the folks who believe it can’t support it or won’t bother.

  46. D. Cooper says:

    Oh Walter, stop teacher bashing … there actually is research that suggests that smaller class sizes are desirable ( and no Andy, I’m not looking it up for you or citing it) … If you don’t think that teachers have fought and continue to do so for classroom authority then you’ve been on vacation too long. You make it sound as though you fill out an application and its given to you. Andy wants us to go on strike to prove we want our authority back … not too out of touch with reality !!! This issue is not a teacher union ‘thing’. It has everything to do with our society, its values and to what extent we want the school to participate in shaping those values.

    We as teachers fight day in and out to preserve what we can … but it is not ours to do alone … we need administrators, school boards, and parents to be all on the same page !! Sometimes me thinks they’re in different books.

  47. D. Cooper says:

    >That logic merely makes the claim plausible – it doesn’t make it true>

    Guess what Andy, I’m not sure to what we owe your smugness, but not only is the claim plausible .. but it is true. I’ll rely on the hundreds of thousands of teachers out there busting their tails every day to verify that claim.

    I’ll leave you with this … if you can’t find a plethora of evidence to show that teacher unions have been involved with classroom discipline problems and solutions for years and years then you couldn’t find a screwdriver in the Home Depot. Andy .. I can ‘fill the page’, but given your arrogance, you can fill it yourself.

    Here, I’ll help, go to Dogpile.com …. try Teacher Unions and Discipline and hall a ball !!! I’ve been a teacher for 35 years … it would suprise me if you’ve been in a classroom lately. You seem to have a sharp tongue but know little about the teaching profession. A day or so in an inner city school would cool your jets a bit.

  48. Andy Freeman says:

    > I’ll rely on the hundreds of thousands of teachers out there busting their tails every day to verify that claim.

    Huh? The claim was that teachers unions were doing something, not that teachers were doing it.

    As to “arrogance”, I made a polite request for supporting evidence. When the first response didn’t support the claim, I repeated my request.

    Meanwhile, Cooper repeatedly engages in personal attacks and claims that I’ve made assertions that I haven’t made.

    Is it Cooper’s contention that nothing a teacher writes should ever be questioned? Or, am I disqualified from asking questions by Cooper’s assumption that I’m not a teacher?

    BTW – We don’t actually know that Cooper has ever been a teacher. I’m not asking for supporting evidence because (1) it’s not relevant and (2) Cooper’s record in providing evidence is “weak”.

  49. Richard Brandshaft says:

    1) I just love the way the teacher’s unions are responsible for everything that goes wrong. I had forgotten the unique flavor the John Birch Society gave to American politics, but I can’t say I’m glad to see it back.

    2) I noticed none of the comments blamed the cops for making arrests in trivial cases. Nothing is ever the cop’s fault. They are just poor, helpless victims of society, obeying orders in a difficult world. It’s not like cops should be held responsible for their actions, like everyone else.

    3) It’s a bit off the main subject, but the New York Times article has a good example of the misuse of statistics. The paragraph is:

    “According to an analysis of school arrest data by the Advancement Project, a civil rights advocacy group in Washington, there were 2,345 juvenile arrests in 2001 in public schools in Miami-Dade County, Fla., nearly three times as many as in 1999. Sixty percent, the project said, were for “SIMPLE ASSAULTS”[emphasis added] — fights that did not involve weapons —and “miscellaneous” charges, INCLUDING [emphasis added] disorderly conduct.”

    “Simple assault” is someone else being assaulted. “The saloon brawl fallacy”–fist fights are harmless — is used by police and prosecutors when they charge someone for responding to a bare handed attack with a gun, Fist fights are not harmless. Occasionally, people are badly hurt or killed. No one should be subjected to one without his consent.

    “Including disorderly conduct” does not mean “disorderly conduct”. Unless we know what the other “miscellaneous” charges are, the number is meaningless. If it was quoted correctly, The Advancement Project statement seems to be designed to seem to say more than it does. And the Times reporter should have known better than to pass it along uncritically.

  50. Walter E. Wallis says:

    My plea that teaching be returned to the dignity of professional educator and that administrators be relegated to support of those professionals is teacher bashing? My suggestion that unions have not been effective in supporting the professsionalization of the classroom teacher is teacher bashing?
    I love teachers, especially Camelia Houck.

  51. D. Cooper says:

    Well Andy .. you are probably one of the most argumentative persons that I’ve run across in my 35 years of teaching… yes, I really am one.
    >Huh? The claim was that teachers unions were doing something, not that teachers were doing it. > My ‘claim was that hundreds of thousands of teachers who belong to unions and are directly involved in their daily operations will concur !!! Trying to separate what teachers do and teacher unions do is short of impossible. You are I guess, unaware of how teacher unions in individual schools work. Of course teachers in their classrooms carry out the day to day operations … and they with their unions and the administration develop the strategies/policies. Your implication that I may not be a teacher is as you say irrelevant and as I’ve stated ‘you do the math’ !!! The ‘supporting evidence’ is there … I’ll repeat, go to Dogpile … search something like Teacher Unions and Discipline, and ‘poof’, you’ll have enough to read so that we’ll have to wait a little longer for your next nitpick response. BTW, the hundreds of thousands of teachers probably won’t need to ‘do the math’, they already know and so will you. (Math teacher in case you were wondering !!)

    Just in case I’ve hurt your feelings by suggesting that you might be arrogant, I’ll be magnanomous and give you a little slack in that respect. And no, anything a teacher writes needs to be taken at face value automatically, and my assumption that you are not a teacher, not that it matters, is probably correct. You tell me. I’ll not question your claim as you did mine.

    The point however is this … you seem to either somehow want the readership to belive that teacher unions are have in someway contributed to a decline in discipline in our schools OR you want them to not believe my contention that teacher unions are indeed and have always been involved in classroom management including class size, discipline, tracking, etc.

    You previously wanted me to show you: >I’m not looking for policy papers. I’m looking for something along the lines of a “teachers threatened to strike if appropriate discipline procedures were not instituted” story in a newspaper. Or a third-party report of a successful negotiation.>

    I do not believe that it necessary for me to locate some teacher union that’s gone on strike just to satisfy ‘your’ need. There are none most likely and if there were one or two that wouldn’t necessarily prove anything. In New York State there is the ‘Taylor Law’ that essentially makes it illegal for teachers to strike. Doesn’t mean that teachers haven’t gone on strike and paid the penalty, but I thought you just might like to know that.

    Yours in Education … Coop

  52. D. Cooper says:

    Walter you wrote .. >My suggestion that unions have not been effective in supporting the professsionalization of the classroom teacher is teacher bashing?> … that would be yes … and you suggested that the motives for reducing class size was motivated by reasons other than the ability to better manage and thus educate. I don’t know if you know what you are actually talking about … but, teacher contracts (other than large cities) are developed locally within each school district (maybe 200-500 staff members). The teacher union on the local level is made up of teachers who serve (without pay from the district) on the local union board. Teachers are part and parcel of the union … get it … the union is the teacher. If I’m a classroom teacher and I was (35 years) serving on the union’s executive board (which I have … as have many teachers) why on earth wouldn’t I be promoting an agenda to improve my classroom management situation as well as professionalism ?? If your agrument is that unions haven’t been effective may have some validity, but certainly not from the lack of trying. It’s not like we can wave a magic wand and make it so.

  53. Andy Freeman says:

    > You are I guess, unaware of how teacher unions in individual schools work.

    Actually, I’m not. While it is true that teachers in the district do most of the union work at the district level, that statement is incomplete. SOME teachers in the district do the union work. The vast majority do nothing except pay dues (involuntarily in most cases).

    Also, unions work above the district level. Much of that work is (necessarily) done by paid staff. And, many of the positions taken by state and national organizations have not been put to members.

    There’s something of a scandal related to state and national political spending. It’s actually illegal for them to use mandatory dues money for those activities. They claim that they don’t actually spend money on such activities….

  54. Andy Freeman says:

    > I do not believe that it necessary for me to locate some teacher union that’s gone on strike just to satisfy ‘your’ need.

    The correct use of sneer quotes would be “your ‘need’.”

    Of course, it’s not a “need”. If Cooper thinks that certain claims should not have to be supported, fine with me.

    > There are none most likely and if there were one or two that wouldn’t necessarily prove anything.

    Actually, it would. The claim was that teacher unions fought for something, and there can’t be a fight without opposition. There are three places for such fights – contract negotiations, legislation, and courtrooms. In each case, there’d be evidence of such a fight, regardless of the outcome, even if there wasn’t a strike.

    Note that position papers/resolutions are not evidence of a fight. They can be evidence that teachers got what they wanted. (If there hasn’t been a fight, that can only be true if teacher unions have gotten what they wanted on this issue or don’t care.)

    I’d ask if Cooper thinks that teachers have gotten what they wanted on this issue, but I’m not all that interested in being personally attacked again.

  55. D. Cooper says:

    Oh Andy quit worrying about personal attack … I’ve been reminded of my inabitlity to use sneer quotes properly …. you apparently are well versed in that area.

    Regarding your reply to being unaware how teacher unions work in individual schools, you stated >Actually, I’m not.> … actually you are … you emphasise that SOME do the union work … well duh!! .. the rest are busy teaching, coaching, tutoring after school etc. … NYSUT (New York State United Teachers) is the parent organization for teachers in NY. They are heavily involved with issues at the state level such as retirement policys and of course provide support for local unions. Any policies that directly affect local districts regarding salaries, benefits, and employment conditions such as class size, teacher placement, etc. are the domain of that local. There are some obvious state regulations that affect local districts which are in many cases the result of legislative actions and that the state organization (NYSUT) plays a roll in. Probably the vast majority of actual attendance, discilplinary, and classroom attendance are not contractual issues but rather the result of policies developed by the local school board in conjunction with the administration and the teachers. In this respect, the teachers are (more that would serve in a union capacity) highly involved.

    My only claim is that teachers and their unions have for as long as I can remember (it’s only names I forget at times) been highly involved with the improvement of classroom management .. sometimes working indpendently with one another, sometimes with a principal, parent, or other administrator and sometimes through their unions. It is part and parcel of what we do.

    You also need to know that teacher unions for the most part are not directly involved in discilplinary policies. Those are the providence of the local school board. The school board determines attendance and discilplinary policies and procedures . Teachers and administrators working with the board help develop those policies through reccomendations, discussion groups and a variety of other input devices. Unions themselves are involved with the teachers input are so very much a part of this process. There is plenty of opposition, ‘fighting’ if you will and some tempers may even flare. It would be unusual to make the papers or TV let alone end up in court … but there is a battle being fought day in and day out by teachers, their unions, and yes evenn administrators to improve what at times appears to be a loosing battle.

    >I’d ask if Cooper thinks that teachers have gotten what they wanted on this issue, but I’m not all that interested in being personally attacked again.> You did ask, and I’m not going to attack. (Grrrr !!!) But I’ll attempt an answer … The simple answer is no. But, thats only because they have little if any control over what they want. They want (don’t puke here) a kinder, gentler student, one who comes to school eager to learn and without all the baggage our society has heaped upon them. I don’t want to be told to F.. Off by some student who apparently has little regard for what I’m doing let alone any parental guidance that would preclude him from saying that. We have children from single parents(not bad in and of itself … two would be better), broken homes, dysfunctional families, teens with babies, felons, yes felons, students who have gone on to murder, you name we got it. How much of this can I as a teacher overcome. Let me tell you Andy, I worked like hell for 35 years giving my best to do my part to give these kids what they deserved. The teacher union (and BTW I not a ‘gung ho’ union cheerleader by any stretch) has been there along with my fellow teachers supporting each other as best we could.

    So, when you’re done looking for your proof and whatever else makes you happy … sit down with a teacher in your area and get the ‘skinny’ on whats going on in his/her school.

    Apologizing in advance in case I’ve sneered … Coop the teacher !!

  56. Good heavens! Let me jump in here to say that I don’t think teachers’ unions are part of the problem when it comes to maintaining discipline and good order in schools. In most cases, weak principals are to blame for a disorderly and dangerous school. Weak superintendents undercut principals and hire bureaucrats rather than boat rockers.

    If you need a scapegoat, blame lawyers.

  57. Andy Freeman says:

    > But, thats only because they have little if any control over what they want.

    Absent mind-control, teachers have complete/total control over what they want. They also have control over what they ask and fight for.

    What they don’t control is what they get. That’s why I asked only about evidence of fights.

    It is somewhat disingenuous to suggest that school boards and superintendents are completely independent actors. Teacher unions in most places have a lot of effect on school board elections. With rare exceptions, they have an effective veto over superintendent hiring and, in many cases, can get superintendents fired.

  58. (D.Cooper)”They want (don’t puke here) a kinder, gentler student, one who comes to school eager to learn and without all the baggage our society has heaped upon them.”
    The world (society) is like that. There are no “ivory towers.” Reality may suck, but it beats the alternative….(as far as reality vs. school goes, I’d think the kids could use a reality in school that, at least to some extent, reflected reality in the world.)

  59. The vast majority do nothing except pay dues (involuntarily in most cases).

    Andy, your citations please? 🙂

  60. While issues like pay and benefits are consistent across an entire district, discipline often is not. School discipline is more about the building administration than it is district policy. You may have good discipline in one school, but relatively poor discipline in another. So while one may get some support from an entire local to strike over an issue that affects everybody, striking over an issue that is affecting only certain buildings would be far more difficult.

    The NEA appears to have a policy regarding school safety according to their web site. A quick google search reveals that school safety and educational policy were behind a strike in Yonkers NY. Also, school safety appears to be an important bargaining issue for the union in Lawrence, Massachusetts.

    Now that I have demonstrated some very basic research skills that should in no way be beyond people who are so sophisticated that they can post about educational policy on blogs, I will go and begin grading the 90 research papers sitting my desk. Those who can’t do, teach, and all that jazz, you know.

  61. D. Cooper says:

    First ..thank you Joanne, Mike, and Bill for some support … Rita … thanks for the research …. I hope it’s up to Andy’s standards .. my lame attemp apparently missed the mark.
    >Teacher unions in most places have a lot of effect on school board elections. With rare exceptions, they have an effective veto over superintendent hiring and, in many cases, can get superintendents fired.> … Andy I don’t know where you hail from, but if this was on a True/False test in NY State … you’d have gotten it wrong. Teacher unions can of course endorse school board members and other than normal electioneering, that’s it. The residents of the district vote … and if they don’t like the teachers or their union (like some people seem not to) they vote for whom they wish. As far as a teacher’s union getting a superintendent fired .. I’m not aware of any case on Long Island where I reside in my 35 years. Cite, cite, cite !!!! You’re blowing smoke on this one.

    And this one … >teachers have complete/total control over what they want.> takes the cake. Now I know where you live …La La Land !!! Please sit down with a couple of teachers from your local district and listen to them…. really listen … maybe that will help.

    And finally …>They also have control over what they ask and fight for> … Here I completely agree … I do have complete control over what I ‘ask’ for and ‘fight’ for. I just don’t have any control over actually getting it. They say the Lord answers all prayers … the answer just isn’t always yes.

  62. Walter E. Wallis says:

    D. Cooper – is your middle initial “B”?

    Members of coerced membership unions have little if any input. If unions care about working conditions, they would not use the lion’s share of mandatory dues to support politicians.

  63. D. Cooper says:

    It’s ‘C’ Walter, that’s the Cooper .. although it could be ‘Cool’. Anywho Walter, your observation of teacher unions is a bit tainted. I’m assuming your beef is with the leadership of large unions of all types wherein the rank and file has little direct input into the goings on at the national level. And while this is probably true, the DNC loves it when it comes to big labor unions. While this is always a problem and I agree … I rarely vote their ‘faves’. But, we’re discussing here the teacher unions and their participation at the local and perhaps state level in the development of classroom management and discipline procedures. Us ‘coerced’ members have an enormous input at those levels as I’ve expained previously !!!

    BTW .. I’m afraid of flying … just in case you were thinking …

  64. Andy Freeman says:

    > Teacher unions can of course endorse school board members and other than normal electioneering, that’s it.

    And that electioneering is effective.

    Is a school board candidate endorsed by the local teachers union more likely to win than one opposed by said union?

    I’m not saying that teacher union participation in school board elections is wrong – I’m pointing out that it has a strong effect.

    > >teachers have complete/total control over what they want.

    > takes the cake.

    How so? If teachers don’t determine what teachers want, who does? And, why are teachers different from everyone else?

  65. D. Cooper says:

    Sheesh .. I thought you went away … no such luck ..
    I’m going to reluctantly (on a minor technicality) give you …>teachers control what they want Sheesh .. I thought you went away … no such luck ..
    I’m going to reluctantly (on a minor technicality) give you …>teachers control what they want

  66. D. Cooper says:

    Just in case ‘he’ returns …. in my previous post I must have inadvertantly deleted a section … I know, I know … poor wp skills … so shoot me ..

    I’m going to reluctantly (on a minor technicality) give you …>teachers have complete/total control what they wantJust in case ‘he’ returns …. in my previous post I must have inadvertantly deleted a section … I know, I know … poor wp skills … so shoot me ..

    I’m going to reluctantly (on a minor technicality) give you …>teachers have complete/total control what they want

  67. Maybe it’s not me but for what ever reason I couldn’t complete that thought … Just a reference to a Rolling Stones song … “You can’t always get what you want ….”

  68. Joel Hammer says:

    I fully agree with sending these kids to court.
    The courts (lawyers, parents, ACLU) have dragged many school issues into court. Fine. Let the courts handle school issues from here on out. Call the ACLU if you don’t like it.

    Once enuf people go to private school and home school, MAYBE the bureaucrats who run our schools system might start doing their job.

    About the racial thing, yes, its all about race. In my brother’s school, which has increasing diversity, (which they want to start celebrating with a diversity week soon), they are under the gun to close the “white – minority” gap in state assessment testing. They are threatened with loss of funds if they don’t do this. So, the plan is to relieve the top students (smarter white kids) from having to take this unnecessary (for them) assessement test. Like magic the racial gap closes, mainly due to the falling average score for whites.

    Problem solved. Now, lets get down to planning Diversity Week.

    It is any wonder that schools don’t get no respect?

    Joel

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