“Students have gotten the impression that they can do whatever they want and there’s not going to be any consequence.”
School Board ignores parents’ concerns
In the last installment, “Cursing in Madison Schools” we reported that Madison’s public schools is doubling down on its failed Behavior Education Plan.
At its February 25 meeting, the school board is likely to approve various tucks and tweaks — things like adding vaping to the list of no-no’s. Things like assigning various levels of severity to inappropriate touching, depending on the particular region of the anatomy. Like, cursing a fellow student —meriting a Level 2 or 3 response; cursing a faculty member: Level 3 or 4. Cursing the cafeteria lady? Um, no levels. So, go for it.
We asked this question: What, exactly, would the restorative justice actually look like?
Award-winning teacher Karen Vieth described what it looked like at Sherman middle school before she quit in disgust this past summer:
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.
Should it surprise you that parents are seeing the same thing? (Answer: only if you’re a Madison school board member because then it doesn’t matter.)
Last November, school district administrators held four listening sessions with “over 55 family participants.” The school district felt it necessary to report that these parents were “mostly white.” The district also harvested 90 comments from its website — most of them from parents.
Tellingly, the district provides no hard numbers, no grades, no pass or fail. Would it have busted the meter to record a vote on the Behavior Education Plan? Here is their report:
The parents’ comments are damning:
“Students see students fighting and then they’re in class an hour later or at football practice. If there’s no consequence then kids feel empowered to do anything.”
“I’m seeing bad habits developed in my son’s kindergarten class. We’re losing staff, we’re losing families. Teachers seem to feel they can’t do anything about it.”
“My experience has been that students have gotten the impression that they can do whatever they want and there’s not going to be any consequence.”
“Teachers are unable to do anything to students that misbehave and disrupt the class.”
While one participant recognized that the perception is more about loving kids and the solution is based on relationships, this participant said, “That’s ridiculous. There needs to be boundaries set and enforced. It’s what any good parent would be doing.”
“Students need concrete consequences, and this seems to be lacking in the current behavior plan.”
“As practiced, the BEP is literally destroying the education of children who are ready to learn.”
“If disrupting children are kept in the classroom, the learning of the children who are paying attention is negatively affected.”
“Our family is debating leaving the school district because of the increasing violence in the schools and concerns for our daughter’s safety.”
“Why is it that is schools are a “gun free zone” and how is it that a child can bring one to school and that child can return back?!”
“This BEP is not strong enough to keep our kids safe.”
“Students who are not ready to learn cannot remain in the classroom. There has to be another plan or the majority of our students suffer. The BEP does not work and is causing so many great educators to leave our district.”
“There has been too many discussions and planning meetings on safety and the BEP. Make some changes and make our schools safe again or step aside and let new people in to do so. ”
Blaska’s Bottom Line: Kids in Madison public schools, be forwarned: I better not see you vaping or there’s going to be so much restorative justice … um … ah …
Do visit Blaska’s Safer Schools on Facebook.
And stop by the candidate forum starting 6:30 this evening (02-05-19) at Christ Presbyterian Church, 944 E. Gorham St., Madison