Friday, March 13, 2009

DC teachers, assaulted by students, are scrutinized for "classroom management"

When I was substitute teaching, “classroom management” was an issue with younger or lower income students, leading to problems. Today (Friday March 13) The Washington Post has a front page story by Bill Turque, “Disorder in a Merged D.C. School; Teachers Alleging Attacks by Youths Find Themselves Scrutinized”, link here. The specific problem has to do with the temporary housing of a ninth grade trade academy in Ronald H. Brown Middle School in NE Washington. Teachers have been assaulted, as by having books thrown at them, but teachers who refer too many students to principals are put on 90 day performance improvement programs.

Apparently these were regularly licensed teachers, whose performance, nevertheless, comes under scrutiny under Chancellor Michelle Rhee’s “tougher performance standards” for teachers.

In northern Virginia, substitute teachers, hired often with no education experience or licenses, sometimes experience classroom management problems and get “banned” (with “Do Not Send” or “Do Not Use” letters) from schools and eventually fired under the “three strikes” rules.

In a speech Tuesday President Barack Obama called for tougher standards with probationary periods for teachers.

But classroom management problems sometimes occur because low income male students do not perceive the teacher to be an “eligible” authority figure according to the values and culture of their world.

To answer the comments (which see), please see the July 25, 2007 entry on my main blog a detailed account of my own problems with discipline in northern Virginia, here. The "three strikes" rule is explained in more detail in the Dec 13, 2006 entry on this blog (see the "substitute teachers" label below).

The Substitute Manual of the Fairfax County Public Schools explains the "do not send" or "three strikes" rule on p 6, link here (PDF). The actual personnel regulation is 4311, and is explained in Section VIII at this link.

Picture: Gunston Middle School, Arlington VA (one place where I subbed, 2004-2007)


Anonymous said...

Are you suggesting that teachers be fired after getting hit by dictionaries three times?

If so, don't tell the students, they'll start taking a more active role in personnel selection.

Don't tell prospective teachers either, they may opt for a more supportive school district.

Anonymous said...

Please clarify - are you suggesting a "3 strikes and you're out" system for teachers who are assaulted by students?

If so, this could be a problem when students catch on.

Bill Boushka said...

The Washington Post story linked here explains the situation in the District. School system officials believe that some of these reports come from teachers who are already being disciplined.

But there is a real problem. My experience is that certain kinds of students will not obey certain kinds of teachers, who need to be able to be very assertive and convincing as authority figures.

The “three strikes” rule means that if a sub is banned from three schools in a county school district, the sub is fired. This is how many counties in Virginia work.

The question is right: subs complain that they get banned after sending too many kids to the office, and then wind up getting fired. The media needs to catch on to this. Maybe I’ll pass is on to the Washington Post reporter myself and ask them to follow up.

The December 13, 2006 posting on this blog gave more details about the “three strikes” rule. A posting on July 25 2007 on my main blog also gives more detail (I added the link back to the blog text).

Thank you for the comments!