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  • Writer's pictureDr. ShaRon Dukes

Think About It

A fight video from a middle school surfaces on social media. People clutch their pearls and cry out for A CHANGE IN THE SYSTEM (fist shaking in the air). Opinions are thrown. Criticism is pushed and slung around, then everyone clicks on the next big news while the education system picks up the pieces.

The cycle is vicious, draining and annoying. It is counterproductive to the process of action research where individuals first identify the problem, search for a solution, implement it, evaluate it, then repeat the process for improvement. If you believe a quick comment on Facebook (grounded in opinion and a lack of proof) will change a school system riddled with behavioral issues, high teacher turnover and low funding, then please don’t quit your day job. There is no personnel savior for this problem. There is no prayers and paddles for this problem. There is certainly no PR moment with Olivia Pope to handle this problem.

The issue is greater than social media or this generation. Because your first cell phone only came with the option to make phone calls and play Snake, does not mean fights did not occur at your school. However, the increase of violence and lack of student accountability is an indication of a need to get to the bottom line and identify the problem based on facts. Pure facts. Here are a few questions:

What is the discipline rate at this school? Monthly number of referrals? Annual number of referrals?

What is the highest discipline infraction? What is the consequence for that infraction? Is the consequence causing a decrease in the number of infractions?

When and where do most behavior infractions take place?

What is the teacher turnover rate?

What percentage of parents attend parental involvement activities?

And my favorite question … what options (outside of the classroom) are provided to students for social and emotional development?

The old school way of the educational system lacks the opportunity to offer students a coherent student development program. You cannot instill change when the only personnel in the building is administrators, teachers and a limited number of school counselors. Learn from the powers of higher education and put more interest in the student affairs side of your K-12 campus. Students deserve to have a space where their interests and talents can be highlighted and developed. Leaders are not created based upon their test scores but their ability to lead. In higher education, administrators dedicate funding to hire qualified educators to create programs in specific developmental areas. Millions of dollars go into the practices of student affairs. On the contrary, some school systems only push 2% of their annual budget towards student support services. Where they do that at?

This topic will make you think but isn’t that the point? Shouldn’t we think of why institutions of higher education believe so greatly in student development for young adults, yet we limit these same experiences for our K-12 students?

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