Parting shots

A long-time Milwaukee teacher and administrator thinks the schools have gotten worse since he started his career. The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel quotes Willie Jude:

–“Did my parents give me basic tools (for succeeding in school)? No, because they didn’t have them themselves. But what they did have was respect, discipline and courtesy.”

— Show up and show up on time. Both in his years in the MPS central office and in its high schools, Jude made a priority of fighting truancy and – something he considered just as serious – tardiness. He says parents and MPS don’t do enough in dealing with these.

“There are two major things that businesses are complaining about (related to the high school graduates). Tardiness and attendance. They go together into attitude and relationships. (Business executives say) if a kid comes in here punctually and they have a pleasant attitude, we can train them. But I can’t train them if they’re not on time or they’re arguing with every supervisor and co-worker they come into contact with. . . .

“Once a student is punctual and in school, a lot of other problems begin to disappear.” Jude said MPS policy since the late 1980s has barred principals from taking strong stands against tardiness.

As Eduwonk says, it’s a must read.

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Comments

  1. Oh, he’s absolutely right. It’s amazing how something relatively tangental, like a tardy policy, can affect learning. I hand out detentions on the second tardy (I have my administrative team well trained :)), and it eliminates a ton of hassles. It sets the tone that I expect them learning from the bell, ie. we don’t play in this class, and I think they figure if I’m such a tyrant about tardies, I’ll lose my mind if they do something more serious…

    Respect, dignity, and courtesy are key. I’ve spent entire semesters teaching a kid how to treat me and my class. I honestly think they have no clue. It’s some of the hardest work I do, but it always pays off. I don’t know why parents don’t do it. I couldn’t live with kids who behave like that.

  2. Ross the Heartless Conservative says:

    What is irritating to me is that we can’t seem to get people like this into leadership positions. Education should not be a partisan issue and I really don’t care what the principal, teachers, and custodians think about abortion, gay rights, or other divisive issues. I want my children to receive a quality education.

    Unfortunately, school administrators who try to take a stand and improve the education children receive are criticized and second-guessed to a point where the best ones are either fired or leave the profession. School administrators should be accountable for the education the kids receive by they should also be given power to do the job in the way they see fit as long as they provide the students a quality education. Now obviously there are limits to what is acceptable under the “as they see fit” guidelines but in general the school administration should be supported as long as they are providing a quality education.

    It is often sad reading the comments on this board. Many of the posts sound as if they were written by an incredibly bright teenager but yet I doubt this is a destination blog for a lot of bright teenagers so I suspect the comments are by immature adults. If Mr. Jude would have been able to run the school the way he felt was proper many well intentioned people would be posting about what a control freak he is and that as long as a kid does the work what difference does it make if the student is in class on time or not.

    It is an absolute tragedy that not every child has access to a quality education. We know what works and the funding is there in most cases. We as a society just don’t have the political will to do address the issue in an honest matter and to stop making excuses.

  3. I’d say assistant super, which is what Mr. Jude was at his retirement, is a leadership position. My guess is that the policy he disagrees with was set by the Board. And you’re right, that’s all about political will.

    I’d work for him, though.

  4. There are two major things that businesses are complaining about (related to the high school graduates). Tardiness and attendance. They go together into attitude and relationships. (Business executives say) if a kid comes in here punctually and they have a pleasant attitude, we can train them.

    This is missing the point about the real nature of “truancy” and “tardiness” in public school.

    Educrats love to crusade against “truancy”, and their dream world is a school with barbed wire and guard towers to rival East Berlin. Has it occurred to them that maybe some students don’t want to be there, have better places to be, will never perform well if forced to attend, will always be resentful, and may be disruptive and/or destructive to others in such a setting?

    If the problem is with motivation, then it needs to be nurtured, not forced. Some people will never be motivated – what to do with them? Others, as they mature, become motivated in some way or another. There is also the fact that in the workforce, unlike school, people are paid to work, and need that money to pay their bills.

    I have personally seen so many previously unmotivated young adults gain motivation and a good attitude once they mature, and enter into a world of voluntarism not compulsion. When there is a will, there is a way. Too often parents, teachers, or other authorities try to “break” a child into a certain role. That doesn’t work. It only seems to work.