Stephen Wallis And Others Defend His ViewpointGiven the...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

January 23, 1994

Stephen Wallis And Others Defend His Viewpoint

Given the critical importance of the issues of school disruption raised in an op-ed piece I wrote last November, it seems appropriate to clarify issues regarding the response submitted by Nat Alston of the Wilde Lake High School Black Student Awareness Program. The initial reference to the "motives" of WLHS faculty who wrote a response supporting my column would appear inappropriate. No one was "jumping on the DTC bandwagon." Rather, they are people who felt, as others did, the need to support a position in which they were in agreement. . . .

Race is frequently used as the only rationale regarding ill behavior or a low grade or an achievement that was not met. As such, it immediately debauches the integrity of any position or argument meant to effect a positive change. Mr. Alston's use of the word "myth" on this issue is solely his; my original submission (not all of which could be published by The Sun) recognized the "scourge of racism that sadly exists throughout the world."

No single ethnicity has a monopoly on the issue of race. I recall an incident where the student felt he was being picked on because he was white and his teacher was black. He soon recanted when I quickly made clear to him how ridiculous it was that anyone of any color be expected to tolerate his foolishness; he was disciplined accordingly and was directed to complete a written apology to the instructor. . . .

I reiterate that insubordinate, defiant, intractable behavior -- no matter the color -- is no less intolerable, and no excuse or rationale should be entertained in an effort to justify it. . . .

Teachers were never intended to be paid for being someone else's parent or policeman. Admittedly, it is often difficult to cite where one's teaching position ends and that of the parent, policeman or psychologist begins. And teachers understand the need to work beyond the work day on lesson planning, classroom organization, grading papers or preparing assessment activities. However, the public that pays taxes does not, in point of fact, remunerate teachers for the hours on end spent on the telephone in the evening with parents of disruptive students; nor does it pay teachers who listen endlessly to other parents about the continuous misbehavior of so many others in classes; nor does it pay teachers to sit and confer at length with officers regarding police reports, and it certainly does not pay teachers for the mental anguish that comes from the verbal and, in too many cases, the physical assaults that are encountered in the course of their profession. . . .

Mr. Alston confuses the "school within a school" concept, referring to a "boot camp" (which I've favored, as well). . . .

I've always emphasized the importance of a strong self-concept. However, I continue to question the notion of self-esteem as it is too often practiced in our nation's schools. I still maintain that it ought to rest on effort, conscientiousness and mastery. . . . The reference to a "level learning field" is what everyone deserves, including classroom teachers and the many responsible parents every ethnicity who actively support the shared partnership of their children's education. While my time admittedly has been only a matter of months at Wilde Lake High School, I've yet to see successful students -- including black students -- go unrewarded by their teachers and staff; if anything, staff go out of their way to ensure that all students are recognized for their achievements. . . .

I applaud Mr. Alston's involvement and wish others would take the time to get involved, but there needs to be an honest recognition of issues. We're in this together, and we're fortunate to have some really talented kids and a hard-working staff. The reality is that this is a national concern and we're losing a generation of kids. Let's get to work!

Stephen Wallis

Columbia

The writer is an assistant principal at Wilde Lake High School.

____________

After reading Kevin Thomas' column, "Why Can't We Give Wilde Lake A Rest" (Jan. 9), I was left wondering if Mr. Thomas actually reads The Sun.

Mr. Thomas accuses Mr. Wallis of battering Wilde Lake High School in Mr. Wallis' "It's Irresponsibility In Schools, Not Race" (Nov. 9), yet Mr. Wallis' only mention of the school was in his title as assistant principal. In a subsequent Sun article about Mr. Wallis (Dec. 19), again he made no mention of Wilde Lake but referred to nationwide problems of discipline and cheating. Wilde Lake may have been wronged in the past, but Mr. Wallis' words and actions are a credit to the school, not a detriment.

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