Biology Below The Gnat Line

Biy'allogy - (n) the scientific discipline otherwise known as biology, as taught below the Gnat Line. This blog is for educators who teach science in the deep south, where social and political conservatism reign supreme and "evolution" is a cuss word.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

A Manifesto for Public Schools

As a college professor I am often shocked by the behavior of my students. Worse, they are shocked by my response to it. When I toss them out of class they ask, "Really?" Yes, really. Get out. A classroom is no place for bullies, cheaters, vandals or slackers. Somehow the public school system is rampant with all of these and not until they go to college do they see real consequences for their actions. Not until they fail a college course and can't complain their way out of it do they realize they may lack talent, discipline, or both. And even in college, parents demand grade changes for failing students and administrators pressure professors to give out more passing grades. This has to stop. It's crazy. It's not okay!! 

After listening to the horror stories of my peers at different academic levels, I hit a wall. I couldn't take it anymore. Enumerated below, in no particular order, are changes I believe to be desperately needed in public schools. It may look oversimplified, but the simplest explanation is often the best. I am a scientist, after all.
  1. All children have a right to a public education. However, any child that infringes on the rights of other students to learn in a safe environment forfeits his/her own rights and should be dismissed. Currently, schools appease a few students at the expense of the others. It's despicable and should stop. Where is it written that troublemakers make the rules? That troublemakers have the right to ruin the educational experience of their peers? REWRITE THE RULES.  
  2. Children must face real consequences for their behavior. Suspension and expulsion should be on the table, and furthermore, they SHOULD be an inconvenience, not just to the child, but to the parent. Can't leave work to pick up a troublemaker who has been thrown out of class? Can't stay home to care for a child that has been suspended? Too bad. Have a conversation with your child about how his/her actions affect the family economy. MAKE IT MATTER.
  3. There is no A for effort. If a child does his/her best and receives a C, the student is average. Grade inflation simply prepares a child for failure in higher education. Most students are average. They can be special without being academically gifted. DEAL WITH IT.
  4. Good children get rewards, bad children get removed. A reward can be anything extra-curricular: dances, awards ceremonies, field trips, etc.  Can't afford to keep your kid home on field trip day? See Article #2. Children who cause trouble should not receive privileges, as it detracts from the learning environment. A student who infringes on the rights of others cannot expect the same privileges as those who do not. ONLY GOOD KIDS GET REWARDS.
  5. Teachers cannot teach when they are babysitters, referees, or security guards. Parents must prepare students to participate in the learning environment by teaching and demonstrating appropriate behavior. Children should strive to be respectful and responsible citizens, not spoiled, narcissistic brats. Teachers are educators, not parents, and education is more effective when the learning environment is safe. PARENTS NEED TO DO BETTER.
  6. Administrators need to administrate some discipline so that teachers, staff and students enjoy a safe learning environment. School children would face fewer bullies in the hallway if school administrators ditched their frivolous meetings, came out of their offices, and commanded respect among students, parents, and staff. Thoughtful and consistent disciplinary procedures are  necessary to maintain safety.  Bullies should not be tolerated. As bullies beget bullies, expect repercussions from the bullying parents of child bullies. Stand your ground and stop the cycle. GROW A PAIR.
  7. Teachers need to speak up for the students who deserve praise and demand discipline for those who detract from the learning environment. If teachers speak up, students will speak up, and the empowerment of a student body against those who inhibit the learning process can be useful in the peer-to-peer regulation of student behavior. It's not okay to behave inappropriately at school. It's not okay to be disrespectful. It's not okay to be mean. It's not okay. SPEAK UP.