Saturday, February 12, 2005

Notes From The Education Underground: The TeachWonk Diaries

Another Brick
Yesterday was a sad day for me at Howard Taft Junior High School. Two of my students were involved in a serious altercation. Actually, one of my students committed a brutal assault against the other.

Friday was picture day. One of the other teachers on my academic team was tasked with taking the students over to where the photographers had set-up their equipment in order for the kids to get their pictures taken.

It was while the 34 students were lined-up outside of a classroom (that had been commandeered for the purpose) that the assault occurred.

A 13-year-old bully decided that it would be a good idea if he punched a 12-year-old in the head. And so the "fight" (if we can call it that) consisted of the bully's one punch. The victim "went down hard" and ended up with a nasty (and bloody) gash on the back of his head.

The victim was one of those sweet kids that are a delight to have in the classroom. He is respectful, motivated, ("A"s and "B"s) and eager to learn. This child has never had any kind of disciplinary problem, and is in fact quite innocent.

On the other hand, the little thug that committed the assault has had numerous disciplinary referrals written by his teachers (myself included) throughout the year. In fact, he had just signed a "Behavior Contract" only two days ago!

A "Behavior Contract" is exactly what it says it is. This is where the kid is "given another chance" to modify his behavior and thus avoid a threatened (and rarely carried out) disciplinary consequence. (I wish that I had five dollars every time I've heard a kid get "another chance;" I could retire.)

The problem is that these bullies keep being given "another chance" time-after-time. It is my experienced opinion that this particular little terrorist will probably be placed on yet another Behavior Contract. Translation: he will soon be terrorizing even more kids.

Meanwhile, here in this "Peyton Place" that we call Middletown, California, there is a frightened young boy who used to like school who will now dread coming to class for the rest of the year. (and quite possibly longer)

The system has failed to protect yet another child.

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