The number one concern I hear from fellow parents is bullying. Secondary to bullying, I hear concerns about sensual or sexual content being introduced at far too young an age. Most recently, I am hearing concerns about lowering academic expectations and standards.
Taking our focus off academics will not increase safety. It is one of the last things we should be willing to compromise as it takes away the primary point of schooling. Turning our minds to diversity instead, when we already have exposure to diversity, seems redundant. And it’s not the school’s place to introduce sensual or sexual content to kids. Parents should teach their children whatever they want about sexuality – whenever they think their kids are ready.
Moving on to safety. Bus/hallway monitors as well as classroom/cafeteria/playground monitors would be invaluable. Distance learning is an option for those acting out through bullying. Referrals to mental health services for such children would be wonderful! Naturally, the delivery of any parameters, would need to be given with as much encouragement, care and concern for the student’s welfare as possible. The goal would be reintegration of course. However, until the child acting out makes marked improvements, removing them does two things – 1) it gives them (and their parents) a healthy consequence as well as giving them time to get the mental health help needed and 2) it keeps the remaining children who are being bullied, safe. These quiet souls are all too easily forgotten. Lastly, I would suggest making the student to teacher ratio as small as possible. Behaviorally or academically troubled students as well as bullied children could be noticed more quickly in small classroom settings.
In closing, schools cannot be expected to replace parental authority or love. It is a responsibility outside their realm. While it’s great to have good intentions, what we need are effective remedies. Teachers need to be free to do their job – not the parents’ job, or the therapist’s job, nor should they have to act as the law. However, for any serious threats to safety, teachers should be able to contact 911 immediately without any negative consequence to their careers. And I must say, I cannot imagine if I was a teacher and I was told academics are a low priority! Such an idea shows neither regard for the student nor the teacher. Children have to live with the consequences of the standards we set for them or struggle if we fail them.
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