Eighth-graders in a Queens, N.Y., public elementary school recently organized a “fight club” for first-graders, beating up those who wouldn’t participate. This disgraceful episode comes at a time when many across the country are engaging in a misguided campaign to diminish the school discipline needed to ensure a nurturing and productive learning environment.
Leading the pack is New York City, where Mayor Bill de Blasio has proposed a disciplinary code due to take effect this month in the city’s district schools. The code is full of edu-babble. For example, the code promotes “restorative circles.” What is that? It’s a “community process for supporting those in conflict [that] brings together the three parties to a conflict—those who have acted, those directly impacted and the wider community—within an intentional systemic context, to dialogue as equals.”
This is nonsense. If student A “impacts” student B with a fist, they shouldn’t “dialogue as equals.” Student A should be disciplined.
Why would schools do something so dumb? Consider the “logic” of progressive thinking, where cause gets confused with effect.
- Black males are overrepresented in American prisons
- Black males often drop out of school
- Black males get suspended more often from school for bad behavior
- Thus, suspending black male students creates a “pipeline to prison.”
- Therefore, to reduce the number of black men in prison, schools must cut down on disciplining and suspending them from school.
Here’s another way of looking at it:
- Black males commit approximately 50% of the murders in the USA, despite being a small minority of the population.
- Black males often start their criminal careers as children, breaking rules and laws.
- Black males often grow up without fathers to teach them how to be responsible men. The vast majority of those who go wrong are fatherless.
- Finding ways to discourage single mother households might be a better way to reduce black male misbehavior, leading to happier young men and a safer society. For example, reform welfare programs that encourage single motherhood. And stop celebrating black “culture” that celebrates demeaning women.
But no, liberals would rather force teachers and well-behaved students to suffer classrooms with disruptive boys.
…The new disciplinary code also undermines principals. Under the old code, they could give out-of-school suspensions of up to five days; only a superintendent could impose longer suspensions. Under the new code, a principal can only impose a pretend suspension in which the student receives “alternative instruction” at school. Previously such instruction would be provided at an alternative location, which is preferable.
Suspensions convey the critical message to students and parents that certain behavior is inconsistent with being a member of the school community. Pretend suspensions, in which a student is allowed to remain in the school community, do not convey that message. Many students actually feed off the attention they get for misbehaving. Keeping these students in school encourages that misbehavior.
Proponents of lax discipline claim it would benefit minority students, who are suspended at higher rates than their white peers. But minority students are also the most likely to suffer the adverse consequences of lax discipline—that is, their education is disrupted by a chaotic school environment or by violence.