The Discipline Lie
Before the school year ended in June, I paid a visit to an administrator’s office and one thing was clear with all of the referrals I saw spread everywhere – they were not being processed timely or not at all. To be clear, the referrals were available on the secretary’s desk for anyone, including another student, to take a slow walk to a trash can. The referrals were visible as far as my eyes could see. Ironically, my purpose for visiting was to find out why the signature on the referral that I got back did not match the administrator who was suppose to sign it.
Of course the secretary stated that everything regarding the referral was handled. Dumbfounded, I approached the administrator and this person also stated that it was okay because there simply was not enough time to handle everything. I will add that on the last day of school, this secretary’s desk looked the same way. Nevertheless, here we are in another school year and already kids are creating challenges by walking out of class, attending an extra lunch, texting, and even fighting. So, what kind of response did I get from a referral I was forced to write about a Class II offense? I got a statement from another office secretary indicating that I needed to withdraw my referral although the student clearly used his phone more than once in violation of the code of conduct.
The secretary went on to indicate that a conference was held with the parent and the student is a “good kid”. So, what are we as teachers suppose to do when we are constantly being disrespected by students and undermined by folks that have no business dealing with discipline issues. Let’s not even talk about ineffective administrators who believe it is better to let a kid spin out of control and send them back to class with the belief I can teach them when they are not interested in learning.
We need an electronic referral system so these lies can stop. It will give more transparency to the entire process, will be more reflective of what problems are actually occurring, and will provide statistical data that will identify where funding may be needed. In addition, too many teachers are being forced to copy referrals, take photos of referrals, and walk them to the administrator just to make sure that everyone knows that “Johnny has been a bad boy and needs to be dealt with today”.
As for the folks downtown in the ivory tower, they need to burn any report that they have received that shows discipline issues are decreasing. They have been fooled and the problem is not getting any better, it is simply being hidden, and teacher’s need for help with out of control kids is being ignored. Finally, make no mistake about it, we do not write referrals because we want to or we don’t know discipline issues when we see them; we write referrals as a last resort. If nothing is going to be done with problem kids, let’s just erase the code of conduct, and stop leaving teachers to guess what the office secretary is going to do to address a discipline issue.