Monday, August 22, 2011

Why Are Some Schools Worse Than Others? Answers Carefully Disregarded by Reformers.

Punishment is now unfashionable... because it creates moral distinctions among men, which, to the democratic mind, are odious. We prefer a meaningless collective guilt to a meaningful individual responsibility. -- Thomas Szasz

Why are some schools social hell-holes? Why do some schools have low academic achievement?

The obvious answer -- to anyone who has tried to teach in such schools -- is this: the students’ behavior is so bad that it interferes with their learning.

The “disruptive” children, before they are old enough to become self-trainers in sociopathy, lack help in developing self-regulation
. Bad parenting as well as neighborhood poverty may be the reason. Heaven knows that violent public schools have little recourse to any effective punishment for children inured to violence.

Even though it produces usually only short-term inconsistent results, punishment is cheap compared to other methods for correcting behavior. But seldom do a good many so-called reformers want to raise the politically sensitive issue of addressing poverty prior to investing reform monies on their favorite quick fixes.

Such considerations are uncomfortable for those whose making a living requires ingratiating themselves to people who are too self-important, ignorant, or incompetent to admit their contribution to the dysfunctions in society. If you serve a master, you can’t afford to serve truth.

And so it is that school people worry more about the self-esteem of bullies, than about their victims. The courts and the politicians push for equality of treatment despite special focussed treatment being needed. Or, they push for special supportive treatment, even if it handicaps those who are considered too “normal” to require it.

School board candidates, by and large, always discover the budget to be too big, teachers to be uncooperative and parents irresponsible. Businessmen wash their hands of the whole situation complaining that they have done their duty by overpaying their taxes and criticizing the schools. Education professors dismiss complaints about their disengagement with the mention that they have contributed order and insight to the educational process by concocting profound metaphors.

For references and to examine these issues further, see Public School Reform: Mired in Metaphor

--- EGR