Setting Standards for Student Behavior

Article excerpt

After being attacked at school, after reflecting on the death of Nedra Morris following a struggle with a 9-year-old, and after viewing the news on other recent attacks on teachers, I began to take a closer look at the problem. I'm a 26-year veteran teacher in the St. Louis public school system, an owner of properties in the city of St. Louis and a product of the St. Louis public schools.

As I pondered, I ran across this quote in the October Today, a publication of the National Education Association: "The first big management task for beginning teachers, more important even than academics, is to teach students `the rules, consequences, incentives, procedures, and routines' of their classroom." The quotation is from the book, "The First Year Teacher."

As I read the quote, the word "consequences" stood out. Bingo! That's the problem! Have we, for too long, allowed a small percentage (5 percent they say) to ruin the opportunity for uninterrupted learning in the classroom for the 95 percent?dew It's obvious that the 5 percent are able to dominate decisions made, and we are constantly trying to find a way to reach them.

Do I find fault with trying to reach and educate these few? Of course not. But how can we protect and provide the best education for the 95 percent? How can we say to our students that there are rewards for good attendance, good behavior, good study habits? How can we say to parents of the 95 percent that we appreciate your efforts, we will protect your child's right to a good education? How can we say to the citizens of the community, state and nation that your tax dollars are being invested wisely to produce good, law-abiding citizens who will one day stand beside you as taxpayers? How can we say to corporate America that we will provide the workers you need?

Must we continue to allow 5 percent to dominate and destroy what many have sacrificed to achieve?

First, and foremost, disruptive students should be removed from the regular schools.

Let's identify and intervene at the earliest stage of a child's education. We are hearing horror stories even at the preschool level. Research shows that a child's success in life is very much dependent on his emotional intelligence, and intervention at the earliest stage of a child's development would be in the best interest of the child as well as the parent, school and community.

We should seek out and work closely with social organizations and institutions provided by federal, state, local and private funds.

Let's have a zero tolerance for children who continue to exhibit violent or disruptive behavior. Have consequences and follow through with them.

For these students, can we develop satellite storefront schools strategically located throughout the city? …