18. TWP’s COMMENTARY ON “A TEACHER/PRINCIPAL’S PAST AND PRESENT TROUBLE & OUR THOUGHTS

Dear Readers: Last week’s blog about a principal named Angela was a touching but yet disturbing story of the conflicting roles of one person over the span of years. We at TWP have our own perspectives about the story and the problems presented in it. The following is our thoughts on “A TEACHER/PRINCIPAL’S PAST AND PRESENT TROUBLE.”

RENEE (ME): This tale shows to me one of the greatest dangers to any educator: Emotional Involvement. The young lady principal had a history with Kevin going back to his infancy. That kind of bond, while innocent in any other context, was bad for both in the classroom environment in which the teacher is supposed to be an authority figure . That authority had to be exerted and the prior relationship was changed forever. The question then is what should have been done differently?

JENNY: I think Angela’s greatest error in judgement was not recognizing her unique problem of having a prior relationship with Kevin. There is only one solution to that: Kevin being reassigned to the other 4th grade classroom. As a professional, she should have foreseen the hazards of her initial student roster.

WENDY: I understand that professional ethics requires a teacher’s constant attention for problems like what Angela encountered but what about the other teachers? Shouldn’t they be of more help to a rookie teacher than just being the witness when things hit rock bottom? I hate to second guess the situation based on just what was in the story but the other teachers were a.w.o.l. on reassigning Kevin to another room.

Michelle: I just know that to have to give your first paddling to someone that you have a prior bond with had to of been horrible. I agree that she should have seen this problem coming and removed Kevin from the class. But maybe the problem was minor for a while and she didn’t see the need. Regardless, the situation ended up poorly with a lifelong friendship being wiped out- that is awful!

RENEE: Lets not be too harsh, Michelle- We do not really know if the friendship was ended or not. Perhaps the relationship that the two had will never be as it was- But does any relationship ever stay the same? I don’t think they can remain the same but change will occur no matter what. Another question is- Can a teacher ever be friends with a student?

WENDY: Realistically, NO- But that is because of the nature of the relationship. By that, I mean the teacher as the one “in charge” and the student as the “subordinate.” The two can be friendly but just cannot be friends in the true sense of the word. Personally, I wished that was our worst problem as teachers but it is NOT! Just getting the kids to behave…

JENNY: I know exactly what you mean, Wendy and all teachers would like to be at least on friendly terms with their students. The danger for educators is “Fraternization” with students that can backfire with a loss of the respect of the students for their teacher. Many teachers never grasp this understanding and as a result, fail at the most important job of all- Teaching the things that all students will need to know in a 21st century high-tech world.

MICHELLE: Amen to that! But as to “fraternization,” I do not believe that the students are even interested in that. We all have the close attention of the kids the first few days of school- especially the boys- but after a few nights of homework assignments, things become more “normal” and the usual headaches start by Labor Day. (HA HA HA) But as to long term issues concerning relationships- If I someday run into a former student of mine at Alabama- I would be so proud of him or her, I’d hug them right then and there- regardless of who is with them!

RENEE:We are all sure of that, Michelle- and that applies to us too! Right, everyone?

ALL: Yeah!

WENDY & JENNY:Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer, Go TO HELL, Alabama! (HA HA)

MICHELLE: Thats NOT how the fight song goes- although I shouldn’t be surprised- coming from a couple of Cow College (aka Auburn University) graduates. The correct version is: Give Them Hell, Alabama…

JENNY: Yeah- like the last SIX years!…And that is Auburn to you…with a capital “A”.

RENEE: Alright you three, we have a few more weeks before that game- So lets TRY to finish our blog! ( These three have been acting up every year before Alabama-Auburn week for the last three years since Michelle started teaching at our school…Hmmm…I wonder where I put my old sorority paddle…I might actually need to use it!…JUST KIDDING, DEAR READERS!)

 

OUR THOUGHTS

As this is being written, the election is over and, being an apolitical blog- we couldn’t be happier. Now, we can watch our favorite t.v. show (Desperate Housewives) without the latest political attack ad ruining an otherwise good evening. In doing research for our blog, we have come across some issues that give us concern. (For background info, please read our blogs LEGAL ISSUES & POLICY SUGGESTIONS.) Finally, our disclaimer is that this is our opinion and should not be considered as legal advice.

SCHOOL BOARD POLICIES

It has come to our attention that some school boards are attempting to create a “backdoor ban” on c.p. by giving principals policy-making authority with regards to if paddling will be allowed. In other words, the principal, who is an employee of the school board, becomes a policy-maker. The conflict is that the principal is usually hired, in part, by the same school board and will do what the board wants.

In the case of an anti-c.p. board, this arrangement is a total cop-out! Such a situation arises when an anti-c.p. majority is afraid of a conservative community backlash if c.p. is officially banned by the board. So, in the great American tradition of “buck-passing,” the issue is handed over to the principals to deal with. But woe is the administrator who makes the “wrong” policy choice! Same applies to the applicant for any administrative position- better give the “right” answer in the interview with the board!

This is not just wrong policy- IT IS DISHONEST! The only people that make policy should be the elected school board members- not system employees. If elected school board members are afraid of their communities’ reaction to board policy changes, these board members need to resign and let people with spinal columns take their places.

In other words, board members need to take a public stand on issues like c.p. and stop pushing the issue onto principals.

In TWP’s opinion, the best c.p. policy is one that allows paddling by both principals and teachers- with all the safeguards that we have suggested in earlier blogs. The principal should not be able to force the issue, pro or anti, on any other educator. (We do have a few teachers who do NOT paddle in our school.)

MEDIA/PUBLIC RELATIONS

We at TWP are not P.R. experts but do have a few ideas for consideration. First, because of the general media’s hostility towards the use of the paddle and educators who use paddles in school discipline, educators involved in any “paddling dispute” should avoid initial public comment. Second, upon receiving word of a dispute, the school administration should make every effort to communicate with the parent(s) AWAY FROM THE MEDIA. In most cases, the problem can be resolved quietly behind closed doors.

However, if the parent(s) are more interested in p.r. points, showing their child’s bottom on the local evening news, and talk of lawsuits- then the school administrators should “shift gears” and go public themselves. This especially applies if the accusations by the parent(s) are extreme and/or false. The parent(s) need to be told that the district will not be mute while being unfairly ripped by one-sided media coverage.

This step, if taken, needs to have two parts. The first is to tell what really happened. For example, if the parent’s storyline is, “Johnny was beaten and bruised for picking his nose!” then the district should release the official report that states “Johnny made an obscene gesture towards a teacher and was paddled for it.” In addition, the other discipline problems of johnny could be revealed as well and might dispel the “angelic” image that the media tends to create in those cases. The second step is to show the actual paddle. If the paddle falls within the parameters of IMPLEMENTS & TECHNIQUES, that could be a counterweight to the awful pictures of welted, black and blue, blistered, and bruised bottoms that anti-c.p. activists love to show on t.v. Just the contrast between the bogus pictures and the light, thin paddle that was used will surely squelch any accusation against the school system. (And if the paddle is “INAPPROPRIATE” according to TWP’s specifications, disregard the last suggestion and prepare to pay out lots of $$$!)

For the record, we at TWP believe that all the paddling that we have ever given resulted, at worst, in a pinkish-red bottom. Even then, if the paddling (3 swats or less) was given in the morning, there probably was never any “color” by 3:00 p.m.

Of course, all these suggestions only apply if the paddlings are JUDICIOUS, MODERATE, and SPARING. Otherwise, prepare to pay up…there are too many lawyers in the U.S.!

COMING NEXT: MICHELLE’S ENCOUNTER WITH A P.T.A.V.E. MEMBER

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