In a recent article, the challenges with school discipline continues to polarize our communities, scholars, and educators. According to Mortimer Adler, “True freedom is impossible without a mind made free by discipline.” Overcoming the challenges associated with school discipline will ultimately fail without empowering teachers to facilitate a process that benefits all students.
According to the article, The debates of school discipline, there exist two schools of thought that polarize the school discipline challenge. Max Eden contends that the middle of the road is an approach that is best for addressing challenges associated with school discipline. “History shows time and time again that it’s always possible to go too far when trying to solve a social problems. If we believe that the disparities are due to tractable racial bias and sub-optimal classroom management strategies, then a professional development initiative coupled with a more intentional disciplinary culture would do a great deal of good.”
On the other end of the spectrum, Hailly Korman states that “there is no such thing as going to far”. She surmised that suspension and expulsion rates far exceed school violence. Suspending or expelling disruptive students does not lead to increased school safety, better academic outcomes, or improved school climate. ” According to the American Psychological Association (APA), a rigid practice of punitive school removals has, in fact, the opposite effect.
In one corner, an emphasis is placed on staying in the middle of the road while on the other hand the emphasis is on extremism. The suggested strategies for transformation are either outdated or lack depth.
The school discipline challenge is a product of a dysfunctional relationship between teachers and students. The primary focal point of teaching is simple – it is the relationship between a teacher and a group of kids. Any educational reform initiatives such as improving school discipline is bound to fail if the importance of teacher-student classroom relationships is neglected. Dysfunctional relationships begin with the values that we develop to ensure that we do not suffer from circumstances that upset, embarrass, or threaten the individual.
From a historical perspective, Blacks feel threatened due to cultural racism. Cultural racism results from the dominant or more powerful group defining cultural values and value characteristics. Anti-Black prejudice in America has historical roots in slavery, carpetbagging, and the failure to reconstruct the South after the Civil War. The army set the stage for labeling Blacks as inferior by using the Alpha and Beta test that contained a number of visual information processing tasks that Blacks are not proficient at.
This lead some minorities to believe they cannot trust White institutions. As a result, adolescents may develop oppositional social identities that are contrary to the social expectations of mainstream society when they experience racism and respond with anger and rebellion. Black students have become convinced that White teachers are racist and prejudiced and reject White teachers’ authority due to their experience with racism.
Since teachers are hired to educate all children this projected attitude can threaten the quality of life for many teachers. Many teachers respond by altering their expectations of Black students. Teachers are more likely to have negative academic and behavioral expectations regarding Black students when compared to expectations of White students. White teachers have more negative attitudes toward Black children and rate Black students more negatively when compared to White students.
This protection of quality of life also impacts European American teachers. European American teachers favor other students rather than Black students. European Americans have favorable attitudes toward Mexican Americans when compared to Blacks and are more likely to accept Mexican Americans when compared to Blacks due to Mexican Americans having a closer skin color to European Americans.
Overcoming the challenges associated with school discipline will require schools to take an alternative approach. There is only one transitional model that will improve relationships between teachers and students. Schools should use both the Raccelerate Formula and the Promoting Positive Racial Teacher Student Classroom Relationships transitional model created by Dr. Campbell.
All the best,
Dr. Derrick L. Campbell, Ed.D.
PO Box 4707 Cherry Hill, NJ 08034
Author of Promoting Positive Racial Teacher Student Classroom Relationships and Promoting Positive Racial Teacher Student Classroom Relationships: Methodology
The Raccelerate Phenomenon
Treasures of Hidden Racism in Education
“The model that you use to analyze teacher-student relationships is a good one for most school districts”.
~ Joe Vas ~ Perth Amboy Mayor
“Dr. Campbell’s Cultural Relationship Training Program is comprehensive, informative, and should be required training for all schools”
~ Darrell Pope ~ Hutchinson Kansas NAACP President