To the Editor:
Sam Chaltain’s Oct. 25, 2006, Commentary “To Make Schools Safe, Make All Children Visible” is a very thoughtful essay that hits home the baseline problem within our schools and society: the lack of discipline, which ultimately transfers to self-discipline and mutual respect.
The difference between what is morally right and morally wrong is no longer as basic as black and white; there is now a huge gray area that society has allowed to form. When I was a 4th grader in 1964, for example, I once took a spring-actuated toy cannon to school and used it to fire matches at other students on the school bus. This was the one and only time I was sent to the principal’s office. What happened to me? I ended up cleaning the bathrooms for three weeks after school.
Today, such a student would be given an “out of school” suspension, which allows for a lot of free time. You see, a young student today cannot clean bathrooms, because it is too “demeaning” or “degrading.”
Another change today is parental: When a student gets in trouble at school, the parents, for the most part, create excuses for their child, and chastise the teacher or administration. Years ago, I feared my parents’ response to trouble at school.
Discipline begins in the home, with specific boundaries. Responsibility and accountability at all ages are necessary to get our public schools back on track and, ultimately, to make all students visible.
Frank L. Martin III
A version of this article appeared in the November 15, 2006 edition of Education Week as Making Students Visible Includes Better Discipline