School Gets Tough on Misbehaviour and the Parents Vent

Whatever used to work when it comes to behaviour management methods (including the awful practice of corporal punishment) no longer does. Suspensions are distributed like handouts and are becoming increasingly meaningless. Detentions have never successfully changed attitudes or reformed students.

I have argued for a while that schools need to address their culture. They need to become more interested in the types of offences their student body commits both within and outside of school. They need to work with the parents and support them, even when the problem is not considered a school responsibility. This shows that the school really does care about the welfare of its students and has a desire to see that its children are making healthy lifestyle choices at school and at home.

It is sad that when a school does take these steps, they are often met with a “a tsunami’’ of outrage:

A new school policy that would hold students accountable for their actions year-round has generated a storm of opposition, according to Dedham officials, and has been put on ice until it can be reviewed and possibly rewritten by a newly established subcommittee.

The policy, which was approved in late March by a majority of Dedham School Committee members, spells out school penalties for violence and drug or alcohol use, even if the actions occur off school property when school is not in session.

It also calls for punishing youths who are at the scene of, but not participating in, such activities. Selectman Paul Reynolds said his board was in the dark about that aspect of the new policy until selectmen were overwhelmed by “a tsunami’’ of outrage.

“I sympathize with these parents,’’ said Reynolds, who will sit on the subcommittee that examines the document with Selectman Carmen Dello Iaccono, Police Chief Michael d’Entremont, and several School Committee members.

“Holding a club over kids’ heads 52 weeks a year with increasingly punitive sanctions sends the message that we suspect the worst of them, instead of expecting the very best from them,’’ said Reynolds.

Actually, I think it’s the parents that try to block this sensible policy that are sending the message that they suspect the worst of their children, instead of expecting the very best from them.

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