“Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.” (John Adams – 2nd President of the United States)
How Do We Fix Our WCSD Schools? Part V of a 6-Part Series
For over a decade, the Washoe County School District (and all Nevada public schools) have ranked last in the nation or almost-last in the nation in quality of education. WCSD superintendents and school boards have primarily blamed our failing schools on a lack of funding. That is provably false because 10 states fund their public schools equal-to or LOWER-than Nevada, and all 10 of those states outperform our schools.
But if the solution for improving our schools is NOT more money, then what is it?
Our failing schools result from 6 main issues that need to be dealt with. Each issue will be explained in more detail in this column and in the three succeeding ones.
Part I -(Feb. 23) FACTS MATTER – WHAT TO DO about our WCSD schools –
Part II – (March 2) WASTE LESS MONEY on buildings and non-instructional support services)
Part lll – (March 16) WASTE LESS TIME and MONEY on instructional-related employees
Part lV – (March 28) MORE ACCOUNTABILITY regarding WHAT is taught and HOW
Part V – (April 5) BETTER DISCIPLINE and CONTROL of student behavior
Part VI – BETTER LEADERSHIP
Part V: BETTER DISCIPLINE and CONTROL of Student Behavior
Having Good WCSD Schools will be IMPOSSIBLE until strong, consistent student discipline is established and implemented regardless of race.
WCSD schools lack good discipline.
Who says so? A poll of WCSD teachers conducted by the QOL-Reno foundation, and numerous interviews with local WCSD students. numerous interviews with local WCSD students. Findings included the following:
- Almost every responding teacher had either been assaulted by a student, or knew a teacher who had. Assaults ranged from punching, spitting, and knocking teachers to the floor, to stabbing teachers with scissors, to hitting them over the head with computers, to severely cursing and/or abusing them verbally.
- When students who exhibit these behaviors are sent to the principal’s office by the teacher, they frequently are sent BACK to the same teacher’s room within a very short period, often with a bag of popcorn and a soda provided to them as a reward by the principal. The demoralizing effect this has on classroom teachers and the classroom learning environment is immeasurable.
But then things get even WORSE.
Under WCSD’s official “Restorative Discipline” Plan, teachers explained that after a student had been physically and/or verbally abusive and been removed from their classroom, that they usually had to meet after school with the student, parent, and principal. The meeting would usually start with the teacher(?!) being asked what THEY could have done differently to avoid the conflict. The student is then asked WHY they committed the offense, (hoping to have the students counsel themselves) but students typically give an excuse like how they were victimized by some emotional reaction to a prior incident, or they think the teacher doesn’t understand them or is prejudiced, etc., and the student offenders take no accountability for their actions.
Restorative Discipline has been a national failure. It was set-up to reduce suspensions of primarily Black students, but it’s made this group’s behavior, as well as academic progress WORSE, because they sense that no one cares enough to hold them accountable for their behavior and they get frustrated and act out more. And yet, WCSD’s Board President and Superintendent deny reality: supporting this Restorative Discipline method and insisting it’s been very effective (which is true ONLY if they mean “effective” in making our schools worse.)
- A majority of teachers who responded to the poll have given up on requiring ALL their students to behave, work, and learn. Students who don’t want to work are not kicked out, but are put in an assigned area of the classroom where they’re allowed to talk, sleep, eat, play or their phones, or talk to each other, and WORST of all, learn nothing! Given the national statistics -locally corroborated by interviewed students and administrators speaking off the record – that – minimally – 20-30% of all students in classes are under the influence of controlled substances, this do-what-you-want group is definitely where the drug-users would primarily (but not exclusively) be found.
You might wonder if these do-nothing student groups are worried that they will fail their classes and not graduate. They are NOT worried, thanks to the “Credit Recovery” programs that allow them to do as little as five, 1-hour make-up sessions of multiple choice questions at the end of a failed semester class, receive a C on their report cards, and continue their march toward functional illiteracy and a worthless high school diploma.
- If this is how poorly WCSD handles major disciplinary issues, you can guarantee that the minor infractions that lead to major issues are abundant, including: excessive absenteeism, tardiness both coming to school and passing between classes, possessing all kinds of dangerous and/or inappropriate contraband, ignoring the dress code, and talking loud and vulgarly in the halls and at lunch. Interviewed students said that Black and Latino students can use limitless racial slurs with no repercussions, but White students who use them usually go immediately to the principal. THIS is the kind of racial bias that is incredibly detrimental to ALL students, and makes ALL races lose respect for the rules and for the leaders that are too weak to impartially enforce them.
How Can This Lack of Discipline Problem Be Fixed?
Like most school problems, it’s easy to fix if you have the right leadership.
- Good schools and Horrible Schools usually have almost identical rules. What’s the difference? Good schools have the moral courage and integrity to enforce their rules impartially with ALL races. Horrible Schools do not enforce their rules, and when they DO enforce them, it is not done impartially. If their Black or Latino students break the rules more frequently than White or Asian students – and they DO for several reasons – instead of the school going straight to the parents and getting them to parent more consistently and strongly, the leaders of Horrible Schools refuse to punish the Black and Latino students equally by saying the “system” is “culturally biased” or “doesn’t understand the need for different behavior standards for different races,” etc. The result? Students of ALL races at Good Schools do well academically and behaviorally. Meanwhile, Horrible Schools see an ever-increasing gap between the academic performance of White and Asian students as opposed to Latino and Black students, because the latter are less likely to be taught by the school to respect the rules and take personal accountability for their actions.
- Horrible School leaders worry about what might happen to THEM – what the Superintendent might think about THEM if they suspend too many Black or Latino students when they break the rules. Good School leaders worry about what will happen to their Black and Latino (and all) STUDENTS if they DON’T suspend them when they break the rules and teach ALL students accountability for their behavior, regardless of their race.
WCSD will never improve until:
- They have strong, consistent discipline for ALL students. That will never happen until WCSD has different leadership.
- They open up the schools to unannounced classroom visits by Board members, parents, and vested community members, so the community can see first-hand the extent of these problems.
“We have it in our power to begin the world (and our schools) again.” (Thomas Paine – 1776)
Feedback is welcomed. Contact Paul White at email: firstname.lastname@example.org