2002-03-16 / Columnists

From the Editor’s Desk

By Howard Schwach

By Howard Schwach

Mike Bloomberg has got to be kidding. Either he is making a bizarre joke, or he has no idea what drives the problems in the school system. It has to be one or the other. He is a fool, or he is being fooled.

"We are going to give the teachers raised, nobody wants to do that more than I," Bloomberg told reporters. "But we also have to find the other side of that bargaining agreement. What are we going to do to improve the education of children?"

"There is a discipline problem," Bloomberg added. "Every parent tells you again and again, since the last contract, that the lunchroom has gotten out of control. We’ve got to do something about discipline."

Does the mayor really think that the discipline problems in our schools stems from the teacher’s contract, from the fact that Circular Six rules now say that teachers no longer have to perform cafeteria duty and hall patrol duty? If he believes that, we should provide him with space at Creedmoor and fire the "educators" who gave him that "bum skinny," that bad advice.

There is not one teacher in the city, not one, that would not like to see discipline improved. Every UFT-faculty meeting in every school every month addresses that fact.

I know. I was there.

Teachers are constantly trying to discipline students. Under the rules set up by the city and by the courts, by the superintendent and by the principal, it is impossible.

Do you know what constitutes "corporal punishment" in this city?

A teacher can be suspended, fired and have his or her license taken away for "verbally abusing a student or denigrating that student’s feeling of self-worth."



Lose a means of earning a paycheck!

Lose a career!

For telling a student who pulls a chair out from under another student, thereby harming that student that it was a "stupid thing to do!"

For telling a student who slams the door on the fingers of another student that "it was a bad thing to do."

For berating a student who assaults another in the schoolyard!

For telling a student who never does any work that he is going to fail if he keeps it up!

For breaking up a fight between two students, grabbing one and pushing away the other.

That is how a teacher loses his or her job today and Bloomberg thinks that it is the teacher’s fault that there is no discipline.

There is no discipline because discipline is no longer politically correct.

Failing students is no longer politically correct.

Telling students that their actions are "stupid" is no longer politically correct.

Telling students that their behavior will lead to nothing but failure is no longer politically correct.

Disciplining students for assault, for calling a teacher a White M_F_ is no longer politically correct.

Disciplining students for calling a teacher’s mother a Ho B___ is no longer politically correct.

Disciplining students for assaulting other students is no longer politically correct.

Disciplining students for failing to adhere is school rules is no longer politically correct.

But disciplining teachers for warning students about their destructive behavior is politically correct.

Disciplining teachers on the word of a student is politically correct.

Destroying a teacher’s reputation on the say of a 12-year-old sociopath is politically correct.

Forcing teachers to pass students who do not deserve to pass is politically correct.

And, it has become politically correct to say that it is all the teacher’s fault that discipline has failed because they refuse to do cafeteria and hall patrol duty.

Anybody who has been reading my columns for long enough knows that I was opposed to Circular Six. I think that teachers are necessary to run the cafeteria properly.

That is far from believing that Circular Six is the source of all of the school’s discipline problems.

If Mike Bloomberg really wanted to solve the discipline problems in the city, he should look to the courts, the advocates for children and the educational experts at the central board for solutions.

The problem arose with those groups and the solution lies with changing the fundamental thought that kids can do what they want without any ramifications.

That’s what we are teaching our children. There are no consequences for actions.

Mike, if you really want to know how to remediate the discipline problem, ask an expert. Call a teacher. They will tell you that the real problem lies within the system – not in the UFT contract and not in the hands of teachers.

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