Discipline problem one for the adults

Published 12:00 am Monday, July 16, 2001

Discipline. It’s one of those funny words that means something different to everyone.

In the Natchez-Adams School District, a new discipline plan has stirred lots of debate lately as several teachers have mentioned the plan as a reason they’ve transferred out of the district.

Next to the court order which sits atop the district like an elephant, the discipline plan is perhaps one of the biggest issues facing the district.

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And not necessarily because children are tearing each other apart – they aren’t, at least not for the most part.

But when discipline problems (and the fuss over the plans to handle those discipline problems) consume large amounts of time and effort, education certainly suffers.

Mention school discipline and sparks are likely to fly.

Parents get upset.

Teachers get upset.

And administrators get upset.

So the immediate gut reaction is to try and assign blame to the discipline problem.

It’s an easy way to get to the bottom of things, or so many people think.

But finding the root of the problem isn’t quite that easy.

Sure, the quickest way is to simply point the finger at the administrators and teachers.

It is their job. Right?

Perhaps, but teachers and administrators are put into a difficult position.

Unfortunately many people simply don’t take education seriously.

They don’t realize that education is more than just dropping their child off at a bus stop each morning.

Education – not unlike most things in life – require a bit more work than &uot;just showing up.&uot;

Parents must become deeply involved with their children and their education.

Studies show that illiteracy rates in Mississippi are high.

And that’s a shame – mainly because reading is so incredibly fundamental to education and ultimately to each and every occupation.

It’s a total cliche, but the key to education really is the three Rs – reading, ‘riting and ‘rithmetic.

So who’s to blame for the discipline problems?

Rather than pointing fingers, all of the folks involved need to work together and either make the current discipline plan workable or find one that does work.

Despite what some disgruntled parents might say, the great majority of teachers and administrators are good people.

They devote long hours, hard work and make both emotional and financial sacrifices for their work.

But they aren’t magicians, and they certainly can’t easily undo the work of poor parenting.

Teachers labored with paperwork, will have less time in the classroom, where their time needs to be spent.

Like life, education requires involvement, hard work and some initiative.

And, more important, it requires adults who give a flip.

Because, let’s face it, adults are all that stand between those children and their future.

Kevin Cooper is managing editor of The Democrat. He can be reached at (601) 445-3541 or by e-mail at kevin.cooper@natchezdemocrat.com.