Among the absolutely essential conditions for learning is a quiet, genuinely safe environment. If kids and teachers can’t be reasonably certain they will not be attacked on a minute by minute basis, little or no learning will take place. I’m not speaking of the measures necessary to reasonably secure a school against armed attack; that’s an entirely different matter (enter “school attacks” in the SMM search bar for my most recent series on that topic). All too often school officials engage in security theater, policies and PR to trick the public into “feeling safe” rather than actually doing what is necessary to be safe.
I‘m addressing a school atmosphere where students are expected to pay due deference to every adult, where they must treat everyone politely, where paying attention is the minimum acceptable behavior, and where adults are unquestionably in charge, and what they say goes.
Does this sound odd to you, gentle readers? Are you wondering why it might be necessary to state the obvious? If you’re of a certain refined age like me, this was likely the default state of affairs in your K-12 schooling. If you are of a younger generation, perhaps not.
If a single student in a classroom is acting up, if they won’t be quiet, if they distract others, teaching becomes almost impossible. If principals won’t back teachers, if when they eject a child from the classroom they find them returning in minutes, they can be certain they’ll be smirking and acting even worse. Where there is no discipline, where inmates are allowed to run the asylum, kids are attending a school in name only.
Aptos Middle School is located in San Francisco and, from the outside, appears like an ordinary school. But today the San Francisco Chronicle reports a small group of disruptive students, somewhere between 5 and 20, have turned it into something reminiscent of the Lord of the Flies. And, at least so far, school authorities seem unable to do much about it:
One of the scariest incidents at Aptos this school year occurred in September, when two girls attacked a sixth-grade girl on the schoolyard. The girls pulled the sixth-grader to the ground by her hair, pulled a chunk of it out of her skull and kicked her in the face and the back of her head…
School administrators held a ‘restorative justice’ meeting with the families of each girl. That’s the school district’s preferred way of resolving disputes, and it centers on mediation and acknowledging harm.
‘There were no apologies,’ [the victim’s mother] said. ‘When asked specifically what they would do differently, the girl said, ‘Well, I guess I wouldn’t have kicked her in the face.’… Those girls have approached her multiple times since then and said, ‘You better keep your mouth shut, you little bitch.’…
‘It’s kind of ‘Lord of the Flies’ around here,’ [the mother] said.
The schools previous principal and assistant principal left recently and the new principal seems to have a different view of school discipline. It has become normal for kids (ages 11 to 14) to wander through the halls, enter classes they are not in, and direct bad language at other students and teachers.
I wonder what the predominant race of these misbehaving children might be? It’s rather obvious from the text, and while culture is important, it’s not immutable. Kids of any race and culture can behave if properly motivated. Kids take their cues from adults. They’ll push as far as they can, particularly if adults are social justice dimwits. How might I know the adults in charge of Aptos Middle School are social justice dimwits? “Restorative justice.” In properly run schools, the “two girls” previously mentioned would have been arrested, charged with aggravated assault—probably as juveniles–and expelled from school.
Does that sound harsh? It’s the minimum necessary. If kids know they can do that sort of thing and face nothing more than a “restorative justice” chat where they don’t so much as have to apologize, they’re going to continue to do as much, and worse.
The language tolerated at school is horrific, students said. Kids use homophobic slurs, call girls ‘ho’s,’ and a mother said she heard a student tell a teacher, ‘F— you, you motherf—ing n—‘ in front of other adults, and none of them did anything.
How low would a school have to sink that students using that kind of language toward teachers is tolerated? When that’s going on, one can be certain D/S/C ideology is in control, which means where minority kids are concerned there is no discipline. This is normally done in the name of “equity,” such that Black kids, for example, are not disciplined at rates higher than their numbers in the student body. In such schools, it doesn’t matter what a student has done, or what their prior disciplinary record might be, skin color is the determining factor. Actual misbehavior is beside the point, and wins no equity/diversity points. Such schools are far more concerned with virtue signaling than the safety of students and staff.
The reporter who wrote the story encountered two girls at the school’s entrance during classes on one of her visits. One of the girls stared at her and called her a ‘Bitch.’ Teachers at the school have been complaining about the situation since the fall:
‘I didn’t sign up to be physically threatened and verbally abused on a daily basis, and I am fed up,’ one teacher wrote to the entire staff last fall in an email describing the unbearable situation.
For a school to fall so far, race and D/S/C orthodoxy need not be a factor. There are, in education circles, educators that want to be liked, that think they can be student’s pals. If they hand out discipline at all, it’s feckless, a lunch detention rather than a day in on campus suspension. Often, such weak-kneed principals—that’s who is responsible for discipline in schools—merely talk to misbehaving kids. They try to reason with them, convince them we’re all one big happy human family. Such kids know well how to play such invertebrate adults, and go right back to wreaking havoc in the classroom.
In some respects, state and federal intervention is responsible. Mandates handed down from above force local schools into impossible situations. In many states, it is schools that are graded, not students. Attendance and graduation mandates make expelling disruptive, even dangers, kids all but impossible. As a result, these kids remain in school, at the least making it difficult for kids that want to learn, and at worst, committing serial felonies.
We expect such nonsense in California. Sadly, it’s going on throughout the nation. Coming to a school near you?