Discipline is only part of the issue

Published 12:00 am Sunday, July 15, 2001

Perfect discipline is an ever-elusive dream. Everyone realizes that. And for teachers, administrators and educators, handling discipline challenges and issues is simply part of the job description.We realize that, too.

But how they handle those discipline issues – and how the school district administers its discipline policy – aren’t quite as simple. And when discipline issues – whether real, perceived or a combination of both – distract our educators and administrators from focusing their efforts on educating children, then it’s time to take a closer look at the issue.

That’s just what we think needs to happen in the Natchez-Adams School District, which instituted a new, Postive Choices behavior modification program last year. The superintendent says the program, which relies on redirection and rewards for good behavior, resulted in 20 percent fewer office referrals last year. But many teachers, who are given greater empowerment and responsibility in the program, say the progam wasn’t as effective as it could be. Their concerns range from inconsistent enforcement to the distractions of sending children in and out of the classroom for &uot;time-out&uot; periods.

On the heels of the loss of 59 certified personnel last year, those echoing concerns have at least one school board member sounding an alarm. As well the school board should.

At issue now is not whether the discipline program succeeded or failed; it will need more time to prove itself effective. At issue, instead, is the coordination between the administration and the front-line educators – between the originators of the plan and those charged with enforcing it. At issue is the leadership that builds a cohesive team, that remains attentive to the needs of that team, and that remains focused on the vision of that team.

And, as always, at issue is the education of our children.