Nap time in Room 120
Rushed to the hospital after breaking up a fight
Madison schools will fail if they continue to allow race to get in the way of education.
The race-inspired behavior education plan (BEP) is destroying Madison schools more surely than Democrats’ favorite boogeyman, Act 10.
More evidence comes from a teacher and former union rep named Karen Vieth who is leaving the district after 16 years because her school is in chaos. She’s not the only one. Vieth claims 23 vacancies had been posted for positions at Sherman Middle School for next school year, out of a total staff of 67.
Ms. Vieth describes herself as dedicated “to closing the pervasive achievement gap.” But, writing in an on-line cri du coeur, concludes “I cannot serve the children I love in the current climate. I have never seen a building as deeply in crisis as Sherman Middle School, yet my cries for help went unanswered for three years.”
Vieth describes student fights, cursing, a dysfunctional restorative justice program, short-staffing and, in particular, an inattentive principal with an open door policy but a closed-door practice. She writes:
Our Positive Behavior Support Coach [ Seriously?! ] asked to go home sick. He was told he could not and that the building was short staffed. Later in the day, this same staff member was rushed to the hospital after breaking up a fight. This was not the first time he was injured in such a manner, but this time it put him out on medical leave for the remainder of the school year.
One staff member had his hands full, because some high school students had stopped by to engage in a fight with some of the middle schoolers. Another staff member was struggling to deal with a student who was swearing, yelling, and causing quite a scene. The principal was in her office with the door closed. At one point, her door cracked open and she peeked out into the mayhem. Though the situation was far from being under control, she quietly closed her door again without saying a word.
Sherman Middle School is located a little north of the former Oscar Mayer plant on Madison’s northeast side. The district describes Sherman as “a diverse, fully inclusive learning community” of 418 students that is 24% African-American and 29% hispanic and 69% low income.
Nap time in Room 120
Ms. Vieth writes:
Four years ago, I approached implementation of the district’s Behavior Education Plan (BEP) with a mixture of trepidation and hope. The goal of the BEP was to increase the time students spent in the classroom by replacing punitive, disciplinary actions with restorative practices. At the time, Sherman was under strong leadership and it seemed like we would continue to thrive. The plan looked good on paper ….
With discipline removed and no true restoration happening, our climate quickly degraded over the course of three years. Students can swear at teachers, use hate language, talk about blowing up the school, walk out of classrooms, or hit a peer. They would take a quick break out of the classroom and be back to start all over again exhibiting the same behaviors five to ten minutes later. …
Students have pushed staff, broken multiple panes of glass in the windows and doors, and brought weapons and drugs to school. The hallways have been filled to the brim with yelling, swearing, pushing, and shoving. Students walked out of class on a regular basis or asked outright to be taken to “Room 120”, which was meant to be the restorative center, where they would catch a quick nap, hang out, or talk to the staff who supervised the room, but restoration and followup did not happen.
Other teachers, parents agree
This morning, three days after her June 11 posting, her blog had attracted over 40 responses, all supportive. A high school teacher agreed:
The BEP is a disaster at our school for some of the same reasons you have mentioned. There is no sense of restorative justice or discipline WITH compassion. While we do not want to be punitive, there is absolutely no accountability for our student either socially or academically. I have students who constantly watch their cell phones, yell across the classroom, curse in my face, and generally disrupt the class.
Once the “team” comes in, the students return after five minutes and act up again. One child said to me when I said I would call the team, “go ahead…they aren’t going to do S&%t anyway.” Sadly, the student is correct. The school year does not start out this way. Children are often well-behaved, well-mannered, and eager to learn. It degrades over time as students find the BEP to be a joke.
A Sherman Middle School parent agreed. “The students behavior is out of control, and the ones who suffer are the kids.” The parent was allowed to enter the school with his child’s forgotten backpack unescorted because “security was busy with two fights that happened around the time I arrived.”
A commenter posting as “A former employee” writes: “Nothing unique about what’s happening at Sherman School. This happening many places at MMSD. The discipline policy is a joke.”
Another MMSD teacher who left the district added:
I too left MMSD after teaching here for 25 years. Many of the same circumstances at my middle school caused me to leave as well. I took a job with substantially less pay and worse benefits, but could no longer stay in a district that did not support teachers … I felt guilty leaving knowing what my students were going to be left facing in classrooms often in chaos.
I, too, am saddened by what is happening in Madison’s schools,” added Becky Garcia, who says she quit after 33 years, overwhelmed by the intensive record-keeping required by the 81-page BEP. “I felt powerless to stop the tsunami of demands on teachers that left little time to actually plan and teach effective lessons. Add to that the new policies that teach students that they have no accountability for anything.”
Blaska’s Bottom Line: Where can I sign up to be a positive behavior support coach?
Coming next blog! School District Central Office throws a curve ball!