Thursday, June 17, 2010

Superintendent Williams-1 Rod Watson-0

I strongly disagree with Rod Watson's collumn in today's Buffalo News. At issue is the suspension debate in Buffalo after the murder of 15 year old Lafayette High School student Jawaan Daniels on Friday. Here are some excepts from the article:

Lafayette High School’s Jawaan Daniels was gunned down at a bus stop after being booted from the building for roaming the halls and sassing adults.

"Sassing adults." Watson should spend a week as a sub in Buffalo and see what really goes on in some of these classrooms. Many of these students (black, white, and Hispanic) have never been taught respect or discipline at home. The "sassing" starts in Kindergarten. The unruly kids think (sometimes correctly) that they run the school. And why shouldn't they? At some schools, the unruly kids outnumber those trying to get an education. Adults in charge just periodically get in the way of their free breakfast, lunch, and socializing. There's more from Watson:

The district needs to let social workers get at the underlying issues that cause kids to misbehave, rather than leave suspensions up to administrators. And schools have to involve parents, the vast majority of whom want the best for their kids but may need guidance in figuring out how to help them.

By the time these kids get to high school, it's too late. Any teacher will tell you, they can spot the troubled kids in Kindergarten. What Watson is saying is: these kids don't have competent parents. It is now up to the teachers to be their parents. How about holding the parents responsible at an early age?
The "vast majority" of parents want the best for their kids? Buffalo schools try to involve the parents. Teachers tell me they have parent-teacher conferences where 2 out of 100 parents show up and they are forced to stare at the walls. However, try to discipline their kids and they'll show up with a lawyer at their side. You notice when they gave out $200 for school supplies, all the parents got that memo? Yet, most teachers I talk to say very few of the students in Buffalo bring pens or notebooks to class.

At least Superintendent Williams gets it, and I give him credit for speaking out on WGRZ news yesterday. It sounds like he might even be reading my blog. Good for him. At least I'm getting paid to teach someone in the city:

But Williams says it's something he has been looking at for some time. But changing suspension protocol is just a start.
"The issue in this community are guns," he said. "[And] the failure of the African American males in this city and this country."
"We need to get the parents involved in the decision making of the behavior and treatment of their children and if their parents don't come we need to get these people standing up here be surrogate parents," Williams said.

For a year, I've been saying the biggest problem in the Buffalo schools is disrespect and a lack of discipline by some of the students. Money is not the answer. A change in attitude toward education is required in the poorer neighborhoods (black, white, and Hispanic). Kids in some underdeveloped countries go to school on dirt floors. However, their families value education and the opportunities it presents. They wouldn't think of disrespecting authority. Why do people like Watson think we should tolerate it here?
Rod Watson: City schools' flawed policy proves fatal : Rod Watson : The Buffalo News

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