Opinion
School Climate & Safety Letter to the Editor

Handle School Discipline Realistically

August 27, 2019 1 min read

To the Editor:

“When Discipline Starts a Fight” by Robert Tomsho from The Wall Street Journal on July 9, 2007, presented a far more balanced picture about teachers who work with students with special needs than Catherine E. Lhamon does in “The Haunting Reality of Discrimination in School Discipline” (July 29, 2019).

When students remain a clear threat to their peers and teachers despite repeated interventions, it is sometimes necessary to resort to procedures that Lhamon would likely depict as cruel. Such measures include the hand-over-hand punishments reported on by Tomsho, which might consist of a teacher holding the student’s hand while the student is told to complete a repetitive task. Teachers use such methods only as a last resort when all else has failed because they are prevented by federal law from expelling or suspending persistently misbehaving special-education students.

Educating such children in the least-restrictive appropriate setting is a daunting challenge that needs to be seen realistically rather than portrayed emotionally.

The author previously wrote for the Walt Gardner’s Reality Check opinion blog on edweek.org and now blogs at theedhed.com.

Walt Gardner

Education Blogger

Los Angeles, Calif.

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A version of this article appeared in the August 28, 2019 edition of Education Week as Handle School Discipline Realistically

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