Torrance Choates: Where has discipline gone?

Published 3:34 pm Thursday, May 17, 2018

In this week’s column, I will be discussing the importance of discipline — not just at school but at home as well ….
Back in the day, all it took was “one phone call home.” In this week’s column I would like to focus on the “one phone call home.” When a teacher and/or an administrator made a phone call, mom or dad would say, “you take care of Johnny at school and I will get him when he gets home.” An immediate change in Johnny’s behavior would occur.
In today’s time, too much inappropriate behavior is causing teachers to have a very difficult time delivering the level of instruction that they need to deliver. Often times, schools do not have any luck or help with parents pitching in to help get this under control. Instead, schools are left struggling trying to figure out how to handle severe issues of disrespect, disruptions, and constant accumulations of pity problems that turns into bigger problems. Not only is this a problem in Sumter County but this is a problem across the country. This is happening in nearly all schools whether it be charter, private, or public schools. The problem does seem more magnified in public schools because we open our doors to everyone!
Teachers are working in an environment where passing the state tests is very critical. Yes, I am referring to the accountability level. Unlike 30 years ago, when students did what they were expected to do with very little interruptions or problems, today the level of accountability is off the charts and yet teachers are expected to teach, have good test results, maintain total classroom control, and keep America’s future going in the right direction! All of this is expected while we watch the degradation in society being chipped away! Back in the day, “one phone call home” would have made the difference! The standards set by society back in the day were strong and much was expected from every citizen and student. That one phone call home meant something “back in the day!” That one phone call home meant, “you tear Johnny up at school and I will get him when he gets home!” As a result, everyone could see the difference it made. In short, inappropriate behaviors or actions just were not tolerated like they are today.
Parents, each year we will be “beefing up” the discipline in our schools. While we are stepping up the discipline, I would like to solicit your help. I would like to ask for your help from the local churches and pastors as well. We as a school system cannot just let the students or parents just come take over and run the show. In other words, we have to keep order. Believe me, sometimes this may be difficult in this day and time.
I have stated to my principals to make sure that all students are treated fairly and that they do not sway to the politics for the sake of keeping people happy. In short, I have asked them to do the right thing.
I have often seen parents uphold and reward their children when they are wrong. What is wrong with parents upholding their children for their actions? Well oftentimes, the child does not learn and recurrences may continue and parents may pay for it two-fold: whether it be in the prison system or just an unproductive citizen who does not want to work for anything.
I would like to point out that while so much is expected, we are dealing with many variables that oftentimes work against us. A degradation in society as a whole, the destruction of a generation by smart phones, babies having babies, a total lack of motivation for coming to school and doing school work, a breakdown in families, drugs, homes being destroyed, etc… Yes, educators are expected to handle all of this and at the same time have a life of their own. It is really a difficult task without the help of parents and community.
I would like for the days to return to how they used to be, where a community all worked together in raising children. Please remember to “thank” a teacher; this past week was “Teacher Appreciation Week!”

Torrance Choates, Ed.D., is superintendent of Sumter County Schools.