Saturday, October 18, 2014

When gentle discipline does not work for the incorrigible child

     First off, there is no doubt that discipline strategies work for most students, most of the time. There are great resources, books, seminars and the like to help teachers. Saying that, there is no magic elixir for all students in every situation and some students. Some families that send ill-equipped students are pretty dysfunctional and calls from a teacher to a parent will go unrewarded because the parent does not have the skills to effectively build their family unit. In the story below posted in the October 18th, 2014 AJC, this issue is tackled and the bottom line is a financial one for districts to consider. Students who are not disciplined effectively may leave for schools that do it and districts will lose funding in the way of lost students. John Rosemond explains his reasoning and teachers and parents can relate.

Public school discipline policies fail teachers
John Rosemond Parenting
   A first-grade teacher asks what she can do about a girl in her class who is completely undisciplined. After nearly two months of this teacher’s best efforts, the child’s behavior is no better. She is defiant, aggressive toward other kids, and often gets out of her seat and crawls around on the floor. Several years ago, she taught the girl’s older sister, who also had numerous discipline issues. The home is chaotic, so the teacher doubts she can expect much if any help from the parents.    The further problem is that the public school in which she teaches forbids the use of “negative” consequences. She can’t take any privilege, including recess, away from the child. She is restricted to using a visual “red light, green light” system that simply lets the child know what her behavior level is at any given moment in time. At the end of the day, she sends home notices to the parents of those kids who’ve had problems.  With great regret, I told the teacher that I had no suggestions that I’d put any faith in. There are two roadblocks to success in this sort of situation. First, a teacher cannot be expected to get a child’s behavior under control without full cooperation from the child’s parents. That cooperation has to include unmitigated acknowledgment of the problem as well as a commitment to follow through at home when there are discipline problems at school. Lacking that, a teacher is limited to containment strategies with a problem child. Furthermore, she will start every day at pretty much square one. With parent cooperation, a discipline problem can generally be solved quickly.    Unfortunately, there is widespread reluctance on the part of today’s parents to fully acknowledge their kids’ classroom behavior problems. Upon hearing of a problem, too many parents toss the hot potato back at the teacher, claiming that her management of or attitude toward the child is the issue, not the child’s behavior.    The second roadblock, described in this teacher’s communication with me, is public school discipline policy. With rare exception these days, schools tie the hands of teachers behind their backs. As in this teacher’s case, they forbid “negative” consequences like taking away recess or having misbehaving children write sentences. They send teachers to seminars on behavior-modification based classroom strategies that “work” only with kids who would be well-behaved without them. The weaknesses inherent in public school discipline policy virtually guarantee that far too many kids will end up being diagnosed as having “disorders” of one sort or another and given potentially risky psychiatric medications.    A 2004 study by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute found that more than 1 in 4 public school teachers put their children in private schools. At the time, that was more than twice the figure for all parents. One of the top three reasons cited by these teachers was better discipline policies. Neither of the two national teachers’ unions would comment on the study. Fancy that.    No one has more investment in classroom discipline than a teacher. Public school teachers are highly likely to opt out of public education for their own kids, in order that they might be disciplined more effectively. It’s time the educrats put those two facts together.    You can visit family psychologist John Rosemond’s website at www.johnrosemond.com  ..

Friday, October 17, 2014

A teachers' Wheel of Misfortune punishment leaves students spinning with humiliation





     There are some sure fire ways to build relationships with students but I have never heard one where humiliation won their way with a child's heart. For an educator in the state of Washington, her way of correcting student behavior was a knock off of the Wheel of Fortune game where instead of winning a vacation or a new car, but a chance to be pelted with objects by classmates. While the teacher is not identified in the article, humiliated students with the aid of a cell phone spilled the beans on the educator and one high school student went on record in the article listed below. The crazy thing is the educator was not fired and will live to spin the wheel in the classroom one more time.

 Washington teacher told not to use disciplinary 'Wheel of Misfortune'



SEATTLE (Reuters) - A Washington state high school teacher has been warned not to have students spin a disciplinary "Wheel of Misfortune" to assign punishments for misbehavior that included being pelted with rubber balls by fellow students, school officials said.
The Stevenson High School science teacher used the wheel to punish "low-level misconduct" instead of sending the students to lunch-time detention, Superintendent Dan Read wrote in a letter to parents on Thursday.
Results from a third-party investigation on Wednesday showed the teacher's spinning punishment prop to be "inappropriate, but well-intentioned" and that the teacher did not "desire to embarrass, intimidate or harm any student," Read said.
"Poor judgment by any teacher is concerning and we plan to work with the teacher on more positive and productive classroom management skills going forward," he added.
Maybe the teacher should wear the sandwich board
The school, in Skamania County near the Washington-Oregon border, did not immediately respond to a request for comment, nor did the teacher. A high school employee reached by phone on Friday afternoon said she was back in the classroom.
Cell phone footage purportedly captured from the classroom and posted to the Internet last week shows a student getting pelted with rubber balls as he cowers and shields his face with a book.
The tactic has drawn complaints. Zoey Zapfe, a 15-year-old sophomore, told KATU News she was punished by the rubber-ball firing squad for chewing gum in class.
"I'm hoping she gets fired because it was beyond humiliating," Zapfe told the local broadcaster.
(Reporting by Eric M. Johnson in Seattle; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Sandra Maler)

Monday, October 13, 2014

When equal access to the internet is censured by schools

Educators grapple with Internet censorship photo     First off, schools need filters when it comes to the internet. There is a fine line between giving access to kids for sites like You Tube, Facebook and many education sites. The internet has many great teaching tools and You Tube is a great example of a site with educational resources and of course has its share of questionable content. The tough part is when schools nix a site and do not give students a chance to access the material in order to do homework.

The problem is when districts are trying to find the right balance between giving students access to information after providing students with technology in terms of laptops, i-pads and other cutting edge technology.

In an article from the AJC, "Most school systems use Internet filtering software and abide by the federal Children’s Internet Protection Act. Passed in 2000, the act was intended to block images deemed “obscene,” or “child pornography,” or material “harmful to minors.” It requires public libraries and schools receiving certain federal funding to install software filters on their Internet-accessible computers."

A huge problem is the balance between creating socially responsible internet users with those that ruin it for those that want to learn. Throw in parents that sue for a school districts position on either side of the fence and lawyers that defend the rights of those with controversial social positions which you can read about in the AJC article below.

http://www.myajc.com/news/news/local-education/educators-grapple-with-internet-censorship/nhgT4/?icid=ajc_internallink_myajcinvitationbox_feb2014_accessdigital_post-purchase#2bd3fd5e.3864497.735519

The article concludes with this thought provoking statement where we can take heed.

The APS Trial and data


      Anyone that teaches in Georgia has been keeping abreast of the Atlanta Public Schools cheating trial if you have not, you should tune in. Any educator knows that one simple four letter word is the key to student growth and of course, job security. Data is the operative word and learning to interpret it and have your students do likewise is the key. Data is driving every school decision and the key for any educator is authentic growth. When your students can grow and tell you why they are growing in the classroom, a modest gain is the key to showing authentic growth.

     What is disturbing is when students at one Atlanta Public School showed 30% growth in one year and had no connection to how they did it, the educators that had erasure parties and were perhaps led right from the top show that high stakes data can lead to a failure of ethics. Every day, the failure of ethics from plea bargains that are forgotten about on the witness stand show deep the culture of it can run in some school districts.

An excerpt from the Atlanta Journal Constitution gives one example of how educators rubbernecked with glee when looking at the results but knew something was amiss.

Arn St. Cyr testified Monday in the Atlanta Public Schools cheating trial and recalled how excited teachers at Harper-Archer Middle School were to see double-digit gains in the Spring of 2009.He and former principal Michael Milstead said they weren't told to cheat, but St. Cyr said he had no explanation for a roughly 30-percent improvement other than cheating. Milstead said sudden improvements in students' math scores seemed especially questionable.

While 30% is attainable for some students and even more for some, nowhere do you see where students showed any type of improvement by APS running up to CRCT years in question. 

To read the complete article, click the link below. 
http://www.ajc.com/ap/ap/georgia/aps-educators-recall-skepticism-over-test-scores/nhhkM/

The trial continues and with careers in tatters and in ruin, this is an example of what some schools have adhered to in order to make inauthentic gains. 

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Maureen Downey of the AJC publishes the letter of retired Ga. Dept. of Education and he says we already have the answers

     Do you ever feel like education has similarities to a hampster wheel? It keeps spinning and different hamsters get on and off but the wheel goes nowhere other than to start and stop. Maureen Downey of the AJC published the letter of retired Georgia Department of Education Director Dr. Stan Bernknopf and he said that his 20 year tenure at the GDoE taught him that politics has kept real reform from happening in schools. Do you agree? Here's his take.

Get SchooledFixing our schools: "We know what needs to be done." We are unwilling to do it. 

Education illustrationA highlight of my job is opening my email to thoughtful notes like this one from Dr. Stan Bernknopf, who was director of the Division on Research, Evaluation and Assessment for the state Department of Education.
With his permission, I am sharing his letter:
By Dr. Stan Bernknopf
For 20 years, from 1975 to 1995, I worked for the Georgia Department of Education. When I retired, I was the Director of the Division of Assessment, Evaluation and Research.
During my tenure with the department, I had the opportunity to work for three state school superintendents, three Georgia governors, various members of the Legislature, and several state boards of education. While the major part of my 20-year DOE tenure can be described as exciting, rewarding and professionally fulfilling, the job also had its frustrations, disappointments and, in too many cases, it highlighted the naivet├ęs and/ or ingenuousness of our educational leaders, both elected and appointed.
As an ‘X’ educator, I’m drawn to the current news pertaining to Georgia education. I especially enjoy your articles which seem to be insightful and represent well-reasoned positions. 
However, it seems that I can’t read your articles and the general educational news without once again experiencing those feelings frustration and disappointments. We seem to consistently make the same mistakes we have made in the past by consistently ignoring the past.
We present initiatives (both state and federal) as if they represent something new when, in fact, they are simply a revised program that already has a history in Georgia. 
This letter is my cathartic exercise to relieve my frustration.
During each new administration at DOE, I witnessed the creation of some sort of “educational review” committee tasked with the job of developing a road map for education in terms of funding, administration and structure.
Each of these efforts usually produced a new program with a new approach to meeting old objectives and goals.  The Georgia Basic Skills Program (GBSP), The Georgia Adequate Program for Education (APEG), and The Georgia Minimal Competency Program are a few that come to mind.
None of these efforts produced groundbreaking findings and they certainly didn’t produce information that wasn’t already known. At best, these efforts were a way to address political promises made during campaigns; at worst, they simply postponed dealing with the real issues facing education.
The professional educational community knows what problems and issues face Georgia education. More importantly, they know what needs to be done to really move Georgia education to the point where all citizens can be proud and, more importantly, our students will be adequately prepared to participate in the global community.
Why then do we insist on re-creating the wheel with each new administration, asking the same questions only to get the same answers and pretending that we are really addressing the issues with new and unique approaches?  A comprehensive answer is far from simple and would take more space than is available in this letter. A short answer would go something like this
To read the rest of the commentary and Downey's work, please go to the AJC at:
http://www.ajc.com/weblogs/get-schooled/2013/jul/16/fixing-our-schools-we-know-what-needs-be-done-we-a/
 
Maureen Downey

About Maureen Downey

Maureen Downey is a longtime reporter for the AJC where she has written editorials and opinion pieces about local, state and federal education policy for 12 years.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Indian Festival of Chariots is a huge hit in Novi


     



     I am under the opinion that the Indian culture is one of the most interesting on earth. From the food, clothing, religion and cultural entities, make it a cultural festival that is a lot of fun. One of the most interesting parts of the festival is the colors tent where kids and adults basically soaked each other with a dust that resembled sidewalk chalk all while dancing to Indian music. The photo album below in the Oakland Press will show you some of the highlights.
http://media.theoaklandpress.com/2014/07/22/novi-festival-of-chariots-indian-cultural-celebration/#1