Discipline is the key to school reformAs we reach the end...

the Forum

June 29, 1994

Discipline is the key to school reform

As we reach the end of another school year the problem of discipline continues to dominate discussion by the press, educators and the public.

For example, Richard L. Lelonek, in his letter to the editor ''School Discipline'' (June 19), highlights the importance of school discipline.

Recently, your editorial ''Color-blind school discipline'' presented an honest, fair evaluation of the problems of discipline related to African American children in the classroom.

Today, unfortunately, far too many teachers are struggling daily to develop and implement some type of workable discipline for their students. Many of these teachers receive little or no help in solving the discipline problem. The powers that be continue to decry the concept that discipline is the job of the teacher.

This may have been true in the past. However, students today must be aware that consequences will result from negative actions. Where consequences and rules are not the order of the day students take their absence as a signal to do as they please.

According to an estimate by the National Association of School Boards, 135,000 students are bringing a gun to school. Many of these guns are used to intimidate not only students but teachers as well.

Since 1960, per capita spending on education has risen some 300 per cent, while average SAT math and verbal scores have declined by more than 40 points. Obviously, far to many teachers are spending valuable time dealing with unruly students instead of using the time to teach.

There is no greater reform needed in our public schools than discipline. If we expect public schools to improve in relationship to learning, character building and morals we must begin today to develop and implement realistic models to improve discipline in the classroom.

John A. Micklos

Baltimore

Faith and funding

We are on the horns of a dilemma when it comes to dealing with the social problems involving our children. We haven't even been able to order our priorities in this debate.

At one pole are those who see children as the victims of poverty and demand this cruel condition must be addressed first. At the other extreme are those who seek strong punishment for children perpetrating crimes. Violent children are destroying our tranquillity and setting bad examples for the others.

Discussions of children's issues are further clouded by the acrimony between the anti-abortion forces, whose arguments carry strongly religious overtones, and the secularist position of their pro-abortion opponents. Ironically, it becomes a bumper sticker battle between those adhering to the biblical commandment ''Be fruitful and multiply'' and those who support a contrary social dictum: ''Don't breed 'em if you can't feed 'em''.

It is difficult to see a resolution in this struggle between faith and funding.

Myron Subotnik

Baltimore

Patterns of abuse

The Russian physiologist Ivan Petrovitch Pavlov was born in the year of 1849 and did experiments with dogs in order to study their temperaments after training. This was the beginning of behaviorist theory.

Today abuse is not done for scientific learning but to accomplish selfish wants by demeaning a person and then giving a reward to the esteem-damaged person. The reward rebuilds hope and self esteem. Then the painful demeaning action is repeated.

The pattern is slow and deceitful. Sometimes the negative pattern is as steady as a heartbeat.

Irrational, you say? No, it is a clever irrationality to break down another person so that the other accepts and follows commands as issued.

We see the pattern in abuse in children, spouses and most often in men's treatment of women.

Teresa Marcus

Baltimore

O.J.'s dark side

Although I am somewhat reluctant to add my voice to the commentary on the O.J. Simpson case, I feel it is necessary to emphasize that great warmth and great coldness, overwhelming fear and overbearing brashness, gentleness and violence are not mutually exclusive. Most of us are capable of mild degrees of all of these emotions.

From birth, humans have a dependency that naturally turns into love when it is fulfilled. But some people grow up not able to distinguish between a dependency and those who fulfill it. They equate the loss of the central place in someone's life, or rejection by someone who fulfills a need for them, with the loss of self. As a result, the thought of rejection becomes unbearable.

These people become overly possessive because they have not learned to view the person they depend on as a separate entity. Instead, the girlfriend or spouse is the alter-ego, the part of them that is the embodiment of what they desire to be (successful, in control, first).

They become the object or symbol of this alter-ego. As part of them, rather than an individual human being, there are no individual rights. Individuals have the right to make independent choices; parts of us that we own do not. And it is not as difficult to harm an object as it is to harm a person.

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