Congratulations to Bentonville! District officials have realized that bad behavior of students affects their and their classmates’ academic achievement, and they are doing something smart about it. Little Rock School District chooses to stick its head in the sand. It has wasted millions of taxpayer dollars on materials, consultants, academic coaches, professional development, meetings, and useless paperwork.
Many children living in poverty suffer from lack of learning stimulation along with physical, social, and emotional neglect. Nearly every day the media report news of child abuse: starvation, beatings, incest, verbal and sexual abuse, and appalling punishments.
Thousands of these cases go unreported. These children aren’t interested in learning. Instead their minds are full of worry. Will there be electricity, water, heat, beds, blankets, food, bathrooms, roaches, rats, even, for God’s sake, gunfire and more at home? Do they care about honor roll or a bag of chips for passing a test? Hardly.
Many children are traumatized just as adults are, and in their fear and frustration turn to theft, vandalism, bullying, defiance, and disrupting their classrooms in every conceivable way.
If high achievement is the goal, the schools need to identify these children at least as early as preschool and begin teaching them the social skills they must have to succeed in school and life. Every year that goes by without intervention makes that success less likely.
Bentonville is starting with two classes of six. Little Rock could fill a school. SUE JOYCE Little Rock