Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Columns

April 26, 2013

MARK HEINIG: Traveling the foggy road to better schools

— I admire Jimmy Carter — more now than when he was president.

Since he left office, he has served both Americans and the global community extremely well. He will be remembered as a great humanitarian, but probably not as an outstanding national leader. When he was president, I felt like I was on a bus without a driver, traveling down a foggy road to nowhere.

The road to meaningful school reform is just as foggy. As our General Assembly prepares to adjourn, the fog obscures the sunshine. We need to improve education, but we disagree about how to do it.

I am an aging schoolmaster — one of yesterday’s educators. Now, at the end of my career, I want to share some thoughts with today’s educators and parents. I hope that it helps them dispel the fog, prioritize the issues and create a realistic school improvement plan.

That goal is much too complex for a single op-ed article, but behavior management is a crucial part of it. Accountability is here to stay. As we continue to raise the bar on student achievement, we will use achievement to distribute dollars, evaluate teachers, and decide which students qualify for preferred career opportunities. Attentive, cooperative students are becoming more and more important. If my kid disrupts the class, it becomes harder for your kid to learn.

How should we deal with disruptive kids? The most challenging and disruptive students nearly always end up in the principal’s office.

Many teachers are reluctant to confront students who misbehave. Their authority to apply meaningful consequences has been diminishing for years. Corporal punishment, after-school detention, lowering grades and assigning extra work have almost disappeared. Each of these consequences has its critics. Maybe they should completely vanish, but what else is left if they do? Physical restraint or removing a disruptive student from the classroom might be the only options.

I do not support corporal punishment, and the kind of physical restraint that I can support does not include absurdities like duct-taping a student. Any student sufficiently out of control to require physical intervention should be handled by more than one adult. The only exception would be if the student seems an immediate danger to himself or others. That’s always a judgment call, but the duct-tape incident involved a child with Asperger’s syndrome on a school bus. Why was there only one adult on the bus?  

The mere presence of a second adult may eliminate the need for any physical action at all. That second adult can also defuse potential dangers inside the school, but few of them are as risky as misbehavior on a school bus.

The issue of seclusion is part of a broader question. When should a teacher send a misbehaving youngster to the principal? When I was a teacher, I did that if the misbehavior interfered with the teaching-learning process. I tried to contact a parent first, but it wasn’t always possible. If the misbehavior made it difficult for me to explain something to the rest of the class or made it difficult for them to understand my explanation, it was time for the culprit to leave.

The principal’s options are very limited. That’s why some kids return to class too soon. There may be no alternative. Seclusion requires space and adequate supervision.

My first principal’s job was in a school where I could isolate only three students at a time. If there were more, I had to make them sit where everyone could see them or send them home on out-of-school suspension. Putting a misbehaving student on display in the office is embarrassing. It doesn’t encourage better behavior. Out-of-school suspension is often too severe. It’s usually the last step before expulsion.

In-school suspension rooms work well when supervised by properly trained personnel. Unfortunately, the room is often available, but a qualified supervisor isn’t. I have only worked in one school where in-school suspension was consistently well-done.

To continue improving learning we must improve behavior management. We can’t achieve that at the state level by making new laws and more regulations. Each school corporation must solve the problem locally.

Mark Heinig Jr. of Kokomo, a retired Indiana teacher and principal, is a frequent contributor to the Kokomo Tribune. Contact him at markjr1708@gmail.com.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Columns
  • House of Burgess: Bush presents 'The Art of Leadership' On April 5, “The Art of Leadership: A President’s Personal Diplomacy,” opened at the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum on the campus of Southern Methodist University. The display, which runs through June 3, boasts “portraits of more than

    April 16, 2014

  • Bohanon: ‘Economics is fun’ in Vegas or in Bible study

    I am writing this on an airplane to Las Vegas. I’ll be attending the annual conference of the Association of Private Enterprise Education along with two of my colleagues and six of my students.

    April 16, 2014

  • Hayden: Want better teacher ratings? Ask the kids

    The state may be back where it started, encumbered with a flawed teacher grading system, a year after implementing what were meant to be tough new standards.
    That was the general consensus of the State Board of Education days after teacher evaluation data were released last week.

    April 15, 2014

  • BRIAN HOWEY: Mike Pence for president in 2016? Stay tuned Mike Pence for president? The swirl of 2016 national ticket talk surrounding Gov. Pence intensified over the past few weeks. I sat down with the governor in his office on Tuesday to find out what he's really thinking. A few hours prior, the Weekly S

    April 14, 2014

  • DICK WOLFSIE: Such a thing as too much My wife and I went on a binge last week. If you think I'm talking about an eating binge, you've never seen how thin we both are. If you think I mean a shopping binge, you don't know how cheap we are. And if you think it was a cleaning binge, you've n

    April 14, 2014

  • ED VASICEK: Chewing over news in bite-size vignettes Today, I am going to share a few "opinionettes" about current news items. Ready? Let's go! City prosperity The unemployment rate in the United States is down to 6.7 percent. This is its lowest level since October 2008. When I remember government effo

    April 13, 2014

  • MICHAEL HICKS: Finding measure of value One aspect of economic research I think is especially powerful is the ability to measure or monetize the things humans clearly value but for which a market price is not necessarily apparent. This is one of the aspects of economic analysis that gives

    April 13, 2014

  • PUBLIC EYE: Right across the county line

    Grant County has wind problems, and as an editor recently and quite rightly noted, “Wind doesn’t care about county lines.”

    So Grant County’s issues over a proposed E.ON Climate & Renewables wind farm are becoming Howard County’s issues as well.

    April 13, 2014

  • RAY DAY: My wife and life, Ramona Today, I will tell you a story about my soul mate and wife, who has been with me for more than 57 years now. Time has gone by so quickly, it only seems like yesterday when we met. Her name is Ramona; I call her Moni for short. Her friends call her Ra

    April 12, 2014

  • OPN - KT041114 - matt mug MATT CONRAD: Chrysler, Purdue alliance It takes about an hour to navigate the route from Purdue University in West Lafayette to Chrysler Group LLC's Kokomo and Tipton plants. But the new partnership between the university and the global auto manufacturer moves Indiana's automotive industr

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

Latest news
Featured Ads
Only on our website
AP Video
Tributes Mark Boston Bombing Anniversary Raw: Kan. Shooting Suspect Faces Judge US Supports Ukraine's Efforts to Calm Tensions Suspect in Kansas Shootings Faces Murder Charges Ukraine: Military Recaptures Eastern Airport Raw: Storm Topples RVs Near Miss. Gulf Coast NASA Showcases Lunar Eclipse Pistorius Cries During Final Cross-Examination The Boston Marathon Bombing: One Year Later Michael Phelps Set to Come Out of Retirement First Women Move to Army Platoon Artillery Jobs Sex Offenders Charged in Serial Killings Police: Woman Stored Dead Babies in Garage OC Serial Murder Suspects May Have More Victims Family: 2 Shot in Head at Kan. Jewish Center Raw: Horse Jumping Inspires 'Bunny Hop' After Attack, Officials Kill 5 Bears in Florida Popular Science Honors Year's Top Inventions ND Oil Boom Attracting Drug Traffickers
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Obituaries
Poll
Kelly Lafferty's video on Tom Miller