Teacher to Parent: Students want an education free from the fear of violence | Opinion

Jodie Stallings

On Feb. 4, a group of students graduated from Irmo High School in Columbia, South Carolina. It has been one of the busiest alarm calls for education officials in decades.

The students did not demand more parking or better food in the canteen. They went for their own safety.

Irmo has handled 2,525 disciplinary referrals this year, with 60 additional referrals not yet considered as of Feb. 9. Let it be involved. The school, which has about 1,200 students, had more than 2,500 disciplinary majors, and we barely passed half the school year.

Schools are falling apart under the weight of policies such as restorative practices that keep students in classes harsh and destructive, even if that means ordinary, obedient students have to learn in fear.

Ordinary and obedient are repulsed.

“We want to feel safe here,” Irmo student Ashley Brookly told WMBF News. “We come to school to study, not to be shut down.”

For students like Ashley, lockouts, “room cleaning” and restorative conversations have abolished deviations, expulsions, and school reform as methods of school safety. Too often, students with records of assault, drugs, and sexual harassment work with impunity in schools. Irmo’s problems included fights, sexual assaults and even shootings off-campus. The result is an environment of fear.

Student Adriana Canfield told WLTX News: “We girls were in tears, crying because of what was happening at our school, and we just want to come to school and get an education, and here we have to worry about the boy touching girls ”.

There is cause for concern. In a normal world, an adult would play the role of a hero and would rush to protect innocent children from the people who terrorize them. Superintendent Akil Ross rushes to the aid of criminals.

Ross plans to introduce a program called NEST, a school-to-school concept designed to reduce suspension and expulsions. At NEST, students with the worst behavior receive the attention of counselors, behavioral coaches, mental health professionals, and “expectation coaches”. According to Ross, NEST is designed for “students with the greatest need”.

I would think that the “students with the greatest need” are those who are bullied, beaten and sexually assaulted.

In an interview, Ross said: “There are no bad children. There are children with unmet needs. ” He probably didn’t see the student student waving a sign asking “Protect us!” If it were, he would have realized that ordinary students also have “unmet needs”.

Ross said at a meeting at the town hall that many students who are undermined are “struggling” with “mental problems,” an excuse for bad behavior.

Even students don’t buy it. The organizer of the walk and Irmo student Brianna McClay told WIS News: “It’s not about mental health issues. We need changes in the corridors, so we are not afraid to walk the corridors every day. We feel it [Dr. Ross] considered the main problems we had. “

Adolescents should not be informed by adults that what they have called a mental health crisis is in fact simply an inability to follow the corridors.

The impotent response to the crisis reflects the reaction of education officials across the country. They don’t even pretend to clean up schools and eliminate the worst offenders. Instead, they keep them in classes where they can do the most harm.

We used to worry about dropouts because they would be “on the street” with drugs and violence. Today it is just as dangerous to stay in school because drugs and violence have moved here. Walk past the school restroom and say I’m wrong.

Fortunately, some leaders are beginning to side with the victims, such as the head of Florence One School, Dr. Richard O’Malley. At a recent board meeting, O’Malley said, “Schools should be the safest place for students.” As fighting in his district intensified, he began expelling students who were struggling.

The result was a 80 percent reduction in hostilities.

O’Malley seems to understand. Undisciplined students tear up education. They take away the attention and enthusiasm of teachers, they take away resources, and they take away the innocence of our children.

Fortunately, students like Brian McClay have summed up the line by allowing them to practice in our schools. Hopefully her courage will inspire more adults to follow her example.

Jodie Stallings has been an award-winning teacher in Charleston since 1992 and is the director of the Charleston Teachers Alliance. To ask a question, order his books or follow him on social media, visit Jodie Stallings.com


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