SARGE: Smarts

Louisiana State Senator Elbert Guillory suggested what I’ve known for years: school teachers have NO control over what happens in their classrooms. Guillory is advocating legislation in Louisiana, through Senate Bill 652. It would give teachers who feel threatened or who feel they’re about to witness a fight a direct line to outside help.

There’s the idea in public thinking school administrations have your child’s best interests at heart. Teachers may indeed feel this way at the onset of their careers. School administrators: Principals and Superintendents don’t. They want to get the students into classes, place the curricula in front of the little darlings, have them absorb it through osmosis and then go home without controversy. This allows administrators to say: “I’ve done a tough job very well. Would you please keep me employed and send more money?”

Controversy shows a lack of control in the teacher’s workplace and threatens the administrators more than it threatens the students. The presence of law enforcement officers in schools where I live was decided on post-Columbine. The goal was to assure parents the administrators were doing something to prevent such heinous acts from happening here. Then because of their extensive educations and Master’s Degree Certificates, they assumed (and still do assume) they’re proficient in and capable of understanding modern law enforcement and the Juvenile Justice System.

If intelligence is defined as the ability to acquire and process information to the best of the individual’s ability then it must be recognized “smarts” (or being smart) indicates the ability to put that knowledge to good use. “Smarts” also indicate an ability to understand there are some things NOT possible of accomplishing on a theoretical basis. There must be a responsibility to hand technical problems off to an expert in the field in question. Engineers and architects understand how to construct things. Many couldn’t drive a nail straight or assemble anything without disastrous results. This is where the theory a college education indicates elevated intelligence is proven to be a lie. Extensive education indicates extensive education; nothing more. I know people possessing Masters and Doctoral certificates shouldn’t be allowed to handle sharp implements, but they believe they’re experts on everything.

Teachers are responsible to their administrators. Teachers have no free will. They must teach what the administrators require: witness Common Core. The teacher’s practical application of teaching methodology has nothing to do with the garbage force-fed our students by administrators seeking ever increasing approval for going with the federal flow.

But I digress.

In my tenure as a School Resource Officer from 1995 to 2011, I saw a Superintendent spend $150,000 dollars on resurfacing high school basketball courts rather than put the money into security she said was of major importance. I guess good looking, hardwood basketball courts protect a superintendent’s standing and continued stewardship of the “education and safety” of the students. Administrators don’t know the Louisiana Revised Statutes (Criminal Law) from the Yellow Pages. In other states you can bet they wouldn’t understand a law book any better than Sanskrit, but because they have degrees they know best how to discipline school children. They must know how because they read it in a book somewhere.

If a teacher witnesses bullying, assault, or disturbance of the peace (all enumerated and defined VIOLATIONS OF LAW) the teacher must hand out a detention slip of some such penalty. This is internal administrative action taken to change behaviors. It’s similar to issuing a parking ticket. We all know how badly parking tickets make us quake in our boots. This administrative process takes time and the result can be placed on the student’s dreaded but mythical “PERMANENT RECORD”. Meanwhile the student or teacher victimized with a battery (actual beating or inappropriate touching) and suffering the injury or embarrassment is required to keep the discipline problems to themselves and do as they’re told. They must bleed and lick their wounds silently and alone.

Administrators want to filter the responses to disquiet, disharmony and criminality in the classroom so as to present an appearance of smooth operations. Having teachers exercise control over their classrooms by reporting the disturbance to Law Enforcement makes administrators look bad. And that’s how they should look because the administrators’ responses are at best reactive. At worst those reactions are non-existent.

In the school I worked at, three years prior to my arrival, a teacher was attacked by a student because she wouldn’t give him a boost of .1% to place him over the point where he could walk in graduation ceremonies. He’d have to go to Summer School. The student beat the teacher until another teacher interceded and stopped it. The administration’s answer to the problem was for her to report the incident after leaving school. It wouldn’t have looked good to have a police car at the front door.

Administrators want that protective level of deniability when it comes down to the history of violence on any campus. They want Security Guards to “observe and report”; not law enforcement to “Serve and Protect”. That means administrators require underlings shut-up and do as they’re told and NOT rock the boat. If the underling can call a cop based on their personal jeopardy not being negotiable by an administrator, it makes the administration look exactly as they are: incompetent to enforce the rules and pertinent law concerning disturbances in the classroom. All this shows an administrator’s lack of control. Control is what modern education is about now: not teaching in a safe environment.

Teachers know if they violate the boundaries set by administrators on this subject the teacher will NOT be offered a contract to return to the school the following year. In essence they’re fired for doing what’s right yet contrary to protecting the safety of the administration’s reputation and continuity.

There’s a lot to be said for Guillory’s legislation. He deserves support.

Thanks for listening.

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