Improving student behavior begins with strong families
In a recent article, “School board makes recommendations regarding discipline” (Maryland Independent, May 12), the Charles County Board of Education researched discipline issues in the school system. Two groups reported: the first, about teacher attacks and the use of PBIS (Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports); and the second, regarding the discipline code responses to infractions.
Spokesman for the first group, Barbara Palko, said, “We should particularly emphasize building relationships and character education.” The second group recommended “developing programs that promote ‘self-awareness of pride, humility and respect’ … that is on a more personal, hands-on level.”
May I respectfully suggest that strong, intact families are the most effective teachers of these principles and values? Where is it more “personal and hands-on” than the family? The family is where children learn what is essential to be happy, how to share, resolve differences, make peace and forgive, work toward goals, and respect the rights of others. Children are daily witnesses to the amount of sacrifice it takes to have a family where healthy relationships and behavior are fostered and daily victims where such relationships are non-existent. This is where the principles and behaviors that are required for society are taught and fostered.
I realize in writing this that there are many children in the Charles County school system who are not the beneficiaries of a family that can effectively teach them these habits. I also realize there are many families where day-to-day living is about all they can handle. However, that does not account for a nearly 70 percent increase in attacks on teachers and the rampant incivility in schools not reported in this article. It is not the job of the school system to act for the parents in teaching manners, values and work ethic but increasingly, it does fall to the schools to do exactly that instead of reading, writing, arithmetic, etc.
Can the Board of Education join with others to promote programs that will maintain and support the families of its students? Where in the board’s discussion did the families of students register as a source of defusing the problem before it starts rather than a “last gasp” attempt to involve the parents? Where are “at-risk” students and families identified? “Parent shadowing” may be the latest technique to keep children in school instead of suspending them, but it is at the wrong end of the process. Parents are at the ones charged with teaching their children to be loving, serving, obedient and law-abiding citizens wherever they live.
This is not just a job for the school system. Faith-based communities, social service programs and networks, and families themselves can all play a part in supporting and strengthening their individual families and family in general. This, in turn, will improve behavior in schools, in public places, and in society at large. We are at great risk if we do not maintain and strengthen the family.