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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

Teachers are quitting because of classroom chaos

Soft discipline policies make teachers' jobs much harder, writes Daniel Buck, who's taught in a variety of schools. A friend quit after being threatened by a student; the administration did nothing. "At one particularly unruly school, I lost track of how many teachers up and left mid-year; they put their keys on their desks and walked out the doors."


Almost half of teachers said they're considering leaving their jobs because of school climate and safety issues, according to a National Education Association poll last year, Buck writes.


In his first year of teaching, "every day was chaos," he recalls. "I still remember one student laughing at me after I asked him to sit down." It wasn't just his inexperience. A veteran teacher across the hall quit "and checked into a mental hospital because of the verbal abuse she suffered from students."


The drive to end suspensions and expulsions has backfired, Buck writes. "We have countless case studies — from cities like Milwaukee, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh to entire states like Illinois and California — that demonstrate the necessity of discipline." Soft approaches such as “positive behavior interventions and supports” (PBIS) or “restorative justice” allow misbehavior, bullying and classroom disruptions to flourish.


It takes an emotional toll on teachers -- and it means more paperwork and more meetings with administrators and parents, he writes. "And of course, none of this touches on the lost learning, academic mediocrity, and emotional harm that chaotic environments inflict upon students."


Here's a Brookings survey on school discipline policies.



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10 Comments


Guest
Feb 14, 2023

Follow the money. Real problem is the litigation. Once the student body is socioeconomically diverse, the parents whose children aren't on medicaid or state child plan sue the school to recover the medical costs their child incurs from the violent, as well as cost of placement in a private school.


My district allows any student to check out of class for any reason. That's been helpful in preventing both the knife fights and lowering the number of ejections.

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Guest
Feb 13, 2023

No one has come up with a good idea of how the educate sociopaths? Unless one is willing to kick elementary age students out of school for sociopathic behavior what can be done? SD

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Guest
Feb 14, 2023
Replying to

But then the problem is that a higher percentage will be black and the screams of racism begin. SD

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Guest
Feb 11, 2023

She makes a good case for some strong disciplinary structure in today's classrooms. Not abusive, not harsh, but firm.

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Bruce Smith
Bruce Smith
Feb 11, 2023

Part of the solution could be to make high school selective, while guiding the majority of youth towards vocational career training: this would place misguided souls like the young woman Steve Sherman cites below into the presence of adult workplace culture faster than Americans arrive to at present, and would also make ninth grade far more consequential than it currently is, which would enormously up the pressure on the incompetent school boards, including those at state level, whose policies are driving so many students, teachers, and families away from their schools, which are becoming steadily more dominated by the least social members of society.

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Robert Diethrich
Robert Diethrich
Feb 15, 2023
Replying to

So? The "everyone has to go to college" mentality that is prevalent in about 95% of our sububan schools is creating a disaster. I have bored seniors who don't even pick up a pencil, yet they are all going to college. Some of them even believe they are going to be engineers and doctors, whereas most will just major in partying for a semester or two at some 3rd or 4th rate state school and then drop out with a lot of debt. I look at a lot of those bored seniors (mostly males) and think they could earn a good deal of money in a semi-skilled or skilled trade, but they are all "going to college."

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Guest
Feb 11, 2023

Insightful!

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