Education Opinion

Out-of-Control Classrooms

By Walt Gardner — January 20, 2016 1 min read
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Classroom management is the term used to describe a teacher’s ability to provide an environment conducive to learning. How to develop and maintain it is one subject that is guaranteed to get the attention of candidates working on their teaching license (“My year of terror and abuse teaching at a NYC high school,” New York Post, Jan. 17).

I think that restorative justice has promise when students disrupt the classroom, but I draw a line when students are violent. The Battle for Room 314: My Year of Hope and Despair in a New York City High School (Grand Central Publishing) is a case in point. I don’t blame the teacher for quitting after one year. Only a masochist would continue to try to teach in the environment he described.

I don’t care what explanations are offered for the outrageous behavior of students in the Henry Street School of International Studies in New York City. These students should be given one warning and then expelled if they fail to mend their ways. We hear so often about charter, private and religious schools that often perform better than traditional public schools. One reason - not the only one by any means - is that students who violate established codes of behavior are kicked out. But traditional public schools are the schools of last resort.

Principals of these schools who don’t support their faculty have no business being there. By undermining teachers, they allow a few students to hold an entire class hostage. As a result, students who want to learn are deprived of the opportunity to do so. It is a scandal that is brushed under the rug. If students disrupt the learning of others, they have forfeited their right to be in the classroom.

When I was in school, teachers were revered and learning was sacred. But I had parents who inculcated that attitude in me. If a teacher commented negatively on my report card, my mother would demand to know what I had done to deserve such a remark. I’d like to know where the parents of these delinquents are and why they tolerate such behavior?

The opinions expressed in Walt Gardner’s Reality Check are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.