Cyndi's Two Cents

Educators powerless to discipline

An old friend in the business of farm broadcasting called me this morning.  During our conversation about “old times” I asked how his daughter, who had wanted to be a teacher since she was 8-years old was doing these days.  I was sad to learn that the 34-year old woman had walked away from the profession she loved because even teaching 5th grade in a parochial school, the educators were powerless to discipline.  She felt she was failing her students.  In reality, her hands were tied and the system that is failing her students.

I, too, was trained as an educator – an agriculture educator – and remember well the classes and hands-on training we embraced and sometimes endured to prepare us for the very important role of teaching young people.  That was more than 3 decades ago.  It was before the courts and bureaucrats and state and federal government began chipping away at the rights of educators and school administrators who were trying to maintain a civil and safe school environment.  In the past 30 years or so, we’ve seen the authority once afforded educators stripped away.

Although the ages vary from state to state, in this country, all children are required by law to “be educated.” Whether it is a public, private or homeschooling experience, the beginning age required by law varies from 5 to 8 years old and ending age varies from 15 to 18 years old.  Unless that changes, we need to get it together and come up with a solution.  We aren’t all going to be right and we aren’t all going to be wrong.

There are a lot of people to blame for the mess that has been made in our education system.  Isn’t it time to stop pointing fingers and right the ship?  Schools are faced with numerous challenges beyond the discipline issue: funding, availability of qualified and quality teachers and other staff, parental and community support and whether or not to consolidate – just to name a few.

Parents need to pull their weight but you can do everything right and still end up with a child bent on breaking the rules.  It’s not fair to the other students, the educators or other staff to allow your child to act inappropriately without consequence.  It’s not fair to your child, either, because in the real world (where hopefully your child is destined to live and be a productive member of society) if you act inappropriately at your job or in a restaurant or at the Department of Motor Vehicles, there will be consequences.

Not every child learns the same way.  Our educators are hamstrung by the system to the point of being ineffective in educating many students under their tutelage.  If a teacher appears to be “getting too close” to a child emotionally or physically, they risk losing a job or at worst, a career.

There are bad actors EVERYWHERE but a teacher who cares so deeply about his students that he keeps a child in from recess or makes them sit closer to the teacher’s desk in the classroom because the child broke the rules, should be celebrated.   Life is hard. If we collectively aren’t willing to give educators a little more power to discipline, we are going to be in serious trouble as a nation in coming years.

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