Author Jay Dubya, a public school English teacher with thirty four years classroom experience maintains that American "Democratic" Education squanders billions of tax' dollars annually. The writer identifies what he considers the principal causes of educational inefficiency and then proposes practical solutions. Some answers to the dilemma are mandatory Vo-Tech School attendance for disruptive public school' students, police presence in school buildings, Academic Disciplinarians as well as Behavioral Disciplinarians, smaller class sizes, administrative enforcement of student' accountability and mandatory six-week summer community service for all high school students. This article is also posted at Jay Dubya's author page at ebookpalace.com
American “Democratic” Education Is Wasteful
I am not anti-patriotic. I am an educational realist who has taught English for thirty-four years in public schools. I know from experience that American “democratic” education is a costly, wasteful enterprise.
Educational philosophers, bureaucratic administrators and school board members will proudly tell the public that our American educational system is “democratic,” based on our noble form of government prescribed by Thomas Jefferson. The rhetoric sounds mighty good, doesn’t it? So good that it wastes billions of tax’ dollars each year in thousands of communities across the United States.
In most American middle and high schools, eighty percent of the “students” are good kids. It’s that remaining twenty percent of the student body that causes massive community’ waste and excessive academic inefficiency. “Democratic” education ensures that “student rights” are protected by the Constitution. The twenty percent of the student’ population that instigates disruption inside most American middle and high schools know all about their “rights” guaranteed by the First Ten Amendments to United States Constitution, but the bad feature is that they care little about the moral responsibilities associated with the Ten Commandments.
Take the Hammonton Middle School for example. There are now four hundred “students” attending the facility. A hundred of them are classified as “special needs students.” Around seventy of the four hundred students aren’t students at all! The designation’ students happens to be a false and misleading reference to describe them. They are disrupters, saboteurs and educational anarchists who daily use peer pressure to influence good kids to join their rebellion against teacher authority. Unfortunately, the good apples seldom cure the rotten ones inside the barrel, especially when the bad apples habitually intimidate the benign ones.
The middle school’s disruptive twenty percent are placed in regular classrooms where their havoc is defended and guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution and by “democratic education.” Victimized teachers must contend with these junior terrorists every day they attend school when they aren’t playing hooky, suspended or sitting in the vice principal’s waiting area not caring one iota about being “disciplined” for the twentieth time since school started in September.
Similar bands of seventy students exist in most large middle and high schools across suburban America and also are perpetually instigating trouble, undermining school rules and teacher authority, terrorizing weaker good kids, and causing general chaos throughout their buildings. They seldom or never do homework or participate in class discussions. Most of these students come to school to fool around, to harass other kids, to eat lunch, to aggravate teachers, to sucker good kids into fights, to steal personal property from others’ lockers, to see what they could get away with, to deface property and to sell or buy drugs. And their rights are protected by “democratic education.” These students need to know as much about their wrongs as they do about their rights.
Juvenile hooligans cost towns and boroughs across America billions of dollars annually in unnecessary, expensive waste. Each undisciplined student (in New Jersey) costs around eight thousand dollars a year to educate. Multiply that number by seventy in the middle school and another seventy in the high school and the town of Hammonton squanders over a million dollars each year on educating disruptive students. Multiply that unsettling sum by the number of high school and middle schools across America and you will be able to fully assess the problem’s magnitude.
And so, each year it costs the town of Hammonton over a million dollars annually to have teachers baby sit, tolerate and discipline insolent and defiant students in regular classrooms. It would be wiser and easier for the local board of education to stuff a million dollars into a suitcase, label the luggage Hammonton Public Schools and then burn the loaded baggage.
And that’s only the tip of the educational iceberg. When these arrogant students act up in class and defy teacher authority, they must be corrected. If it requires five minutes of class time to discipline one unruly student and settle a class down, then multiply five minutes by the number of kids in the class. Probably over 140 minutes of academic time are wasted on one incident. Over two hours of total student learning time has been lost and cannot ever be retrieved. Multiple that one classroom’ incident by the thousands of minor and hundreds of major disruptive incidents that annually occur in the average public school and you will understand the enormity of the massive educational discipline crisis.
The worse part of the school discipline scenario is that school administrators expect teachers to accept disturbing erratic student’ misbehavior as part of their daily routine. Ironically, student misbehavior is the major justification for school’ administration. If all students were respectful, serious about work, honest, courteous and sincere to their teachers, then school systems would not need administrators to “interview,” to “interrogate” to “investigate,” to “discipline” and to “suspend” unruly rule-breakers. Schools could run perfectly well with just department chairmen and faculty members. Each district could have a superintendent to hire faculty and a business administrator to requisition supplies and to make payroll.
A very weird symbiosis exists in American schools, a dependent relationship where plenty of discipline problems support the need to have principals and vice-principals. They need each other to exist.
After a graduation that is not really earned, most of the unskilled defiant “students” venture out into society and interrupt the normal flow of activities in their communities. And it is that same twenty-percent (whether in school as dysfunctional students or at large as dysfunctional adults) that costs towns across the country millions more in police protection.
If all citizens were honorable, decent, law-abiding, respectful adults, how big would the local police departments really have to be? The police, lawyers and prosecutors need criminals just like school’ administrators need recalcitrant students to stay in business. Why would a large number of policemen, criminal lawyers and court prosecutors be needed to protect good, moral and ethical citizens from one another?
Here’s what is needed to reverse the great wasteful dilemma caused by American “democratic education.” Those hundred and forty middle and high school kids that daily sabotage the smooth operations of local school systems must be channeled into vocational educational schools where they can work with their hands. The students could then learn hands-on skills that they could use later in life when they later become productive taxpaying members of local society.
If those students find that they don’t like vocational school, they should be given the option of returning a year later to the regular school system. However, they and their parents would have to sign contracts stating that the students promise to be respectful of school rules and teacher authority or else have to return to vocational school or to Alternative School until graduation. The vocational school diploma would be given equal status to the regular high school diploma to erase any stigma being associated with attending a “Vo-Tech or an Alternative School.”
If the hundred and forty former school system’ troublemakers learn practical trades and skills (computer skills included) at the Vo-Tech institutions, then the taxpayers’ investment in their education will be wisely utilized. As long as American public schools tolerate the antics of disruptive students, our school systems are doomed to mediocrity at best. Schools need to become “academic institutions” and not “sociological places” where student’ insubordination and rebellion are condoned by administrators and defended by the First Ten Amendments.
Mandatory vocational school is one very practical solution to “democratic education’s” squandering of hard-earned taxpayers’ money. If lawyers and judges insist that mandatory vocational education violates a student’s Constitutional Rights, then school systems should have the courage to implement other practical solutions. A definite police-beat presence should be evident in middle and high schools with a community or borough cop’ substation in each school. The safety of good students and their teachers should be insured against the growing horde of belligerent and obnoxious uncooperative troublemakers. Schools must be viewed as microcosms of our communities. We all accept the presence of patrolmen on our streets and in our stores. Let’s finally have the guts to admit that their presence is also welcomed and needed inside our school buildings.
Also, every middle and high school should have two disciplinarians: a vice-principal in charge of student’ behavioral discipline and a vice-principal responsible for enforcing academic discipline. When students don’t do homework or when they refuse to do class work, they need discipline and not guidance. When students tacitly exhibit negative attitudes about learning and when they chronically complain to the teacher that a subject is boring, they require discipline and not guidance. When students fail to perform teacher expected classroom activities, then they should be referred to the “academic disciplinarian” for discipline and not to the guidance department; and if the problems persist, detentions, suspensions and transfers to Vo-Tech and Alternative Schools should be assertively administered by administrators.
Two Septembers ago I was asked by the new middle school principal to have my “old job” back while my successor was out on maternity leave. The Hammonton Public School District requires that each student from grades six to twelve read a listed book for their grade level over the summer and then submit a "critique reaction" to each chapter and hand it in to the English teacher the first week of September. The assignment is called a summer reading requirement.
When I retired from the Hammonton School System, I had 105 students spread out over six teaching’ classes. When I returned to my “old job,” I suddenly had 142 students in six teaching’ classes. No public school’ teacher should ever have a daily workload of more than 100 students and be expected to create a satisfactory academic environment in each class.
Thirty of the hundred and forty-two students did not have their summer reading reports done on time. At the end of the marking period, twenty of the thirty students also owed compositions (course proficiencies). Verbal conflict often arises when teachers must put pressure on derelict students to turn-in due overwork. I approached the vice-principal about the problem.
“Oh, just give them a zero for not doing the summer reading critiques,” the administrator said.
“But they failed to submit a course requirement, which is the same thing as refusing to turn-in a course proficiency,” I replied. “It isn’t much of a requirement if thirty kids don’t do it and then still wind-up passing the course.”
“Just count it as a failing test grade,” the vice-principal said, obviously thinking that when students neglect or refuse to do school assignments it is NOT a discipline problem.
If the school had an “Academic Disciplinarian” to refer the delinquent slackers to, then I believe that a good deal of the “attitude” and lack of cooperation problems could have been addressed. Then I would not have had to come into verbal conflict with lazy students (I’m not afraid to use those taboo and politically incorrect words). I wanted to give each of the uncooperative thirty students a U (Unsatisfactory) for conduct, but the school brass maintained that U’s should only be given for flagrant student’ misbehavior and not for neglecting to do required work.
It’s about time that school boards and administrators demanded student accountability and student responsibility. Let’s get disruptive students out of classrooms, and please, stop calling them students until they learn self-discipline and demonstrate self-control and respect for others. Make teachers responsible for just “teaching” and not also for “learning” and for “student’ behavior.”
It’s about time that students, their parents and society begin viewing and understanding public school education as a privilege and not as a democratic right. Privileges can be revoked if not honored; rights can’t be taken away.
I believe that six-weeks of compulsory summer community service should be required of all students ages thirteen to eighteen. Maybe then that twenty percent of disruptive students in almost every public middle and high school will begin to appreciate the value of American education and will begin to understand that schools are places where dedicated teachers impart subject’ disciplines to genuine students that have the self-discipline to learn.
Author of 41 books in hardcover, paperback and Kindle and Nook e-book formats