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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Duval's big discipline lie

From a reader:

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.


  1. Very similar things are happening at my high school. Kids are being sent back to class who are cursing at the teacher; students are literally refusing to work, won't follow the phone policy, are late every day, and generally create havoc in the classroom. The excuse/line from admin is that if teachers have good classroom management, then there won't be any discipline issues. That is rubbish. I have been in Duval for 8 years, and there are always two or three students in class whose goal in life is to undermine teachers and do nothing all day. Are they in every class? Sometimes. Admin should support the people who are actually trying to teach those students, not condemn them for seeking help.
    Currently, we have admin roaming the classrooms, micromanaging every element of a teacher's day. We don't have time for that and are constantly stressed out. It has only been 2 weeks! We spend our Common Planning doing inane things like that I learned in the College of Ed, being yelled at by the AP, and wasting precious minutes in the day. By the way, the average admin has less teaching experience than I do at 9 years. It is ridiculous that I have to sit there and listen to people, who I would not let teach my own kid, lecture on how I should teach.
    The myth that things are getting better is untrue on all sides. The admin and those downtown are constantly undermining the teachers who do the actual hard work. Yeah, I said it! The students are who they are. They will always be great or frustrating. It is the adults who make life difficult, not the students.

  2. Same thing at my H.S. DCPS figured the perfect way to reduce referrals...blame the teacher. If students skip, it's because you're boring. If they text, you're not engaging. If they fight, you don't have good classroom management skills. If they curse you out, they don't respect you. If they don't learn, you didn't teach them. If they don't pass, you failed them.

    1. You have stated the norms in our Public Schools! At First Coast High School in 2012/13 the Assistant Principal for 11th Grade, Porshia Jones, presented us, teachers, with a list specifying all the referrals we wrote to date, at every month's Grade Level Meetings.This is a method of shaming and intimidating teachers. I wonder how she feels hiding away at the Fort Caroline School, after an incident at Raines High School.

  3. Yup, there is absolutely no responsibility on the student. Until then, nothing will improve either discipline-wise or academically.

  4. If they don't learn, you didn't teach them."

    We were told during pre-planning that if a student does not learn a concept, the comment "But I taught it" will not fly anymore. Just because we taught it is not enough. No way can anyone force a person to do something (unless they fear for their life), so how can we be held responsible? Yes, I taught it, and I spent hours trying to figure out a day to teach it in a manner that the students would understand. I can present the concepts, but I cannot make them understand it. That takes willingness on the part of the student.
    Also, on the discipline issue. The principals were pretty much yelled at by the superintendent over the summer for suspending so many students. He yelled that they should be ashamed of themselves.

    1. "You can't teach a hound dog to sing opera". "You can take a horse to the water hole, but you can't force it to drink". If you try forcing the horse to drink you might be kicked, even fatally. Don't bother, you will be well rewarded; do what you are capable of, and PRAY to God. "Evil has hijacked our EDUCATION SYSTEM", but you good teachers will be VINDICATED. Karmic law is certain; whatever you sow that shall you reap and whatever they sow that shall they reap.

    2. Who cares a darn if the principal was yelled at by the superintendent. Who is the superintendent - is he GOD? What values does he represent? Is he ashamed of selling out to TEACH FOR AMERICA? Is he ashamed of representing CHARTRAND instead of the CHILDREN of DUVAL COUNTY and our TEACHERS? Is he ashamed of disrespecting and undervaluing our teachers? What is his position? Where does he stand, really, as regards our DUVAL COUNTY SCHOOLS and PUBLIC EDUCATION?

      If the Principals would unite against the superintendent's folly and let him know that he must listen to them and not dictate to them he would be made to understand. But Principals yell at teachers! And now, 'PRINCIPALS ARE YELLED AT BY the SUPERINTENDENT'! Is the Superintendent the OWNER of the Duval County Public Schools Corporation. If VLADIMIR PUTIN hears that a SUPERINTENDENTof an American School District yells at the PRINCIPALS he might find it most HILARIOUS! In America MIGHT is RIGHT but there is a GOD that is more POWERFUL and upholds TRUTH. We MUST seek his HELP! He WILL NOT FAIL TO DELIVER.

  5. "Yup, there is absolutely no responsibility on the student. "

    Have you heard about the 4 pillars?
    One of them is students must have ownership over learning. What a laugh.

    1. We are experiencing the fall of Rome!