To say Sunday night's #oklaed Twitter chat was very upsetting would be putting it lightly.
To which I answer:
A2: 1.)Fatherless Boys, 2.)Parents uninvolved in education, 3.)Bad choices
I was not citing resources here. This is my opinion. But there are many sources out there that I could have used to back up my response. We were asked what we thought contributed to the School to Prison Pipeline. Nobody took issue with my response #1 and #3 in the tweet. But I was called out and blasted for being “accusitory” with my “lack of compassion” and “lack of empathy” for my second contributing factor. I said that lack of parental involvement in education was a factor, i.e. parents of students getting into trouble at school and thus being suspended are overwhelmingly less involved in their child's education. Is this matter here being contested as a fact?
From this moment and the next 20 minutes, I could hardly stay involved in the actual chat at hand. I was playing defense (to many) to my comment. I should have just let these comments roll off my back...but...I responded. Now, let me get this straight...I am in no way, shape or form taking back anything I said...but I would like to make more clear some of my thoughts. This chat was a hard first-time chat and to be limited to 140 characters makes explanations for tweets downright impossible. My tweet was twisted into a blaming of parents for their kids ending up in jail. While parents are not always to blame for every example, the glaringly obvious intention of my tweet was simply to mention the fact that parents are equally involved in this process.
I was poor growing up. I had to start working at age 15 so I could help my mom pay the rent. My sister started working a year later to help out as well. My mom had no degree beyond high school and dad was not around. I am married to a man who is one of 11 kids. 7 of his siblings were adopted out of foster care, so I guess I am bringing into my classroom some implicit bias. This is the bias I took into the chat Sunday. I think with the lack of perimeters and generalizations, everyone had their own different groups or subsets of children on the forefront of their brains. Sunday night a small group of protesters was acting like I was some sort of nutjob for saying parents who are not involved in their child's education were PART (one part) of a problem. Parents are not faultless here. The very minute I became a parent my life became all about creating the best citizen I could. If your child/student cannot obey in school, gets into fights, yells at teachers, paints graffiti on bathroom stalls for any reason other than a diagnosed health issue, then parents - you are a part of the problem.
Teachers for the most part (at least where I am from and with my own experiences) are doing their best to help parents out when it comes to feeding, looking after them before and after school and loving them. Check out Rob Miller's post on Hugging Porcupines. We love these kids, but in my opinion parents on a large scale are becoming selfish with their time. This pushes the problem off on teachers who were hired to teach students - not raise them. We do the job, we love them anyway.
Sunday night I was called "damaging to students" and "worse than a troll because my impact was real", and "unsafe to be a teacher" just because I think parents lack of involvement in their child's lives - WHERE IT COUNTS - is discipline. I have no clue when the word discipline became a dirty word. Athletes have discipline when they work-out daily. A writer has discipline to complete a book. To get a mindful and obedient 4-year-old we keep a schedule and create consequences which equal discipline. When we as parents are selfish with our time and do not follow through with discipline and consequences as well as rewards, a child is learning new behaviors are now acceptable. There are research backed articles all over the web and rows of books in the books stores dealing with this topic. I am not a witch here. I think what I suggested starts at the root of the problem.
I believe zero tolerance policies are not discipline, they are laziness on the part of adults. I believe we should practice more patience with students. I believe that the fact that children of ethnicity and children in special ed are more likely to be suspended, is a huge problem. I believe that teachers are getting shorter and shorter fuses due to the lack of respect, pay, and general pushing around by the government. This in no way shape or form should rear its ugly face when we are dealing with a child, but the fact is, it does manifest itself when a child acts out. I do not believe this makes it right. I believe that diversity training and school to prison pipeline should be talked about more often. I think discipline and classroom management should be regularly trained in schools. I believe we should do a better job at giving constructive feedback to parents and offer solutions to help them develop the citizens we want beyond school years. All of these biases shape me being a teacher. I have to think through my biases before I speak and act. If you were to ask my students, I am confident they would tell you that they all feel loved.
Lastly, I asked for clarification. I put myself in a position of vulnerability and begged for the right words if mine were so wrong. I was told by my accuser that it wasn’t her job to educate adults. To this I say, Mahatma Gandhi told us to be the change we wish to see in the world. It is now evident that we are not on the same team. My team is trying to make changes for the better rather than pointing out problems and refusing to offer solutions or even give a shred of evidence behind the claims. This was nothing more than a very sad witch hunt and I'm saddened by the evident preference of this group to simply be angry. To do this we need to have conversations (even with adults) until our voice no longer works. Hope is not a strategy here.
Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself. -Leo Tolstoy