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Classrooms tough places these days

A northern Ohio substitute teacher lost her job this week because she couldn’t handle the misbehavior of her seventh-grade choir class.

Friday, October 15, 1999

A northern Ohio substitute teacher lost her job this week because she couldn’t handle the misbehavior of her seventh-grade choir class.

The 26-year-old responded to a flurry of spitballs by throwing various items back at the students, including a dictionary. Several students were injured in the incident and the teacher was fired.

First, a stipulation. No adult should ever respond to immaturity from students with violence or immaturity him or herself. That teacher was wrong, period.

But it would be wrong to ignore this incident and the many others like it that occur in classrooms all across the nation.

Teachers are finding more and more behavior problems in classes these days. Students who have no sense of right and wrong and no respect for authority seem to be immune to the traditional methods of classroom control.

Teachers and administrators deal with some serious transgressions as well as many, many repeat offenders who disrupt classrooms and make learning difficult for those who remain.

And sometimes, when they punish the student, they then face the wrath of parents who don’t seem to understand that the child they spoil at home is a terror when left to his or her own devices at school.

Classroom disruptions cost taxpayers money. There is the cost of discipline, the need for extra staff, the metal detectors, the teacher turnover and the lower test scores when classroom lessons cannot win the battle with spitballs.

If we are serious about reforming schools, we have to start with the atmosphere in which we expect our children to learn.

We have to take back control and put respect and discipline back in the classrooms.

Then, and only then, can education in Ohio improve.