FINALLY some attention is being paid to the increasingly abysmal lack of discipline in Madison schools.
This is self-inflicted. And likely thanks to the Obama admin's "Dear Colleague" letter on "disparate impact", Madison has joined Milwaukee schools (and Sun Prairie and Verona) in replacing traditional discipline policy with something called "PBIS" (Positive Behavioral Intervention and Support), aka non-discipline. The result? Chaos, both academic and non-academic .
Recently, the estimable Mitch Henck published an editorial in the Wisconsin State Journal on the breakdown of behavior and elimination of traditional discipline. Teachers are powerless. Kids don't take security personnel seriously. They don't respond to "restorative justice".
Just last week, 18 cops responded to a melee at LaFollette HS. Three officers were injured in the ruckus.
And as of right now, there is exactly ZERO appetite to change the policy on discipline back to common sense. In fact, it appears the appetite is to boot the Madison PD's resource officers from the school entirely. So far, the only media paying attention is David Blaska's blog and my radio show.
And this just in, Madison's school board will be taking up the issue of removing cops entirely from schools THIS WEDNESDAY (2/21/18):
Again, from David Blaska:
Irony of ironies, barely a week after a similar disturbance at La Follette High School and the school shootings at Parkland, Florida, the Madison School board is considering doing away with cops in schools. I’m attending the meeting at 5 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 21, at school administration HDQ, Room 103 of the Doyle Bldg., 545 W Dayton St. Madison.
Just this last Monday (2/19/18) Madison Police Chief Mike Koval issued his daily blog report detailing THREE MORE high schools in ONE day needed police intervention for student disruption.
What will it take to get the school board "progressives" (perhaps a new, more appropriate name for them is required? I think "regressive" defines them better) roll back this inanity? A SCHOOL SHOOTING?
The administratiors are obsequious and parents are left in the dark. I'll leave you all with an email from a dad of a West HS student about the most recent outbreak of violence at his son's school. Think his letter will make a difference? Let's hope so.
Dear Principal Boran,
Thank you for the incident report about the "loud verbal altercation" that necessitated law enforcement engagement to put a stop to, and that we can all be thankful did not cross over into the "beyond verbal" realm of assaults, violence and melee. Surely in this aftermath of the Florida school incident we can all be thankful that it was not worse that it was ...although the problem is that we really don't know what exactly "it" WAS. And in the aftermath of that incident the time is right to take back our school and declare it a truly safe space once again.
As the new incoming principal for West (welcome, by the way!), you are in the unique position to be the one who can bring about much needed change to a broken system.
The problem I and my fellow West parents have with the email you sent to parents is that it raises more questions than it answers. I can tell you that any concerned parent would certainly agree that is unacceptable, especially in this climate with the spectre of potential school violence that unfortunately hangs over us all as parents and pupils like a dark, encroaching shroud from which no "safe space" can be immune.
Until I and other concerned parents access the police report which, by its very nature, will not mince words about what occurred but instead will simply state facts in a way any parent would expect from the principal of their child's school - I would like to ask you as the Principal, what exactly happened?
My son said this was a very loud and aggressive happening involving a subset of the student population that he cannot help but notice and comment has also coincidentally been involved in all other altercations (including not just "verbal altercations" but also actual physical assaults and various melees including ones with torn-off hair strewn on the floor and a vast crowd of students teeming at the edges, filled with adrenaline, watching and getting thrills from the witnessing thereof). I asked my son if he stays away from such trouble when he becomes aware of it and to my horror, I was told that no, he and basically every other student will throng to the action as if it were a modern day gladiator match to the death. I guess I can't blame him too much - perhaps it is human nature to not look away from the catastrophe - to not avert our eyes even when the less base parts of our brains tell us to avoid the conflict entirely.
These altercations are seen as the NORM because students engaging in them are coddled - and the peaceful majority of students are the real victims - living in constant awareness that for reasons unknown to them and that can and will never make sense to them - West High and the District are engaging in experimental, ill-advised, and dangerous tactics to essentially bend over backwards to not "offend" the OFFENDERS.
My son is also aware of and afraid, as are most students - that at any given moment, the PARENTS of the violent pupils can and HAVE enjoined the fray themselves, coming upon school grounds or adjacent - to add their fists to the fury, to add their own poor choices to the equation - to add their own adult level danger which can potentially include being armed.
Due to your policy - students at West have to fear not only violence from and among their fellow students - they also have come to fear the potential of violent ADULTS who are the parents of the violent pupils and who have NO qualms about getting down and dirty and exchanging violence with fellow parents and/or pupils. The overall situation at West raises concerns about the culture of accepted violence and non-discipline which is policy in Madison schools apparently. The origins of this insane policy are not clear to me, as I am not privy to the inner workings of MMSD - I can only conjecture from knowing the misguided thinking that perhaps is at play here - that PERHAPS the policy is an attempt (albeit severely and horribly misguided) to not make things even worse and to just accept that certain subsets of pupils have within them an innate lack of self-discipline that just has to be accepted as a fact of life- an attitude which in and of itself is terrible and which does NOT seek to expect the best and bring out the best in all students.
Perhaps one would even be jaded enough to think that the policy seeks to bring about some sort of equity in discipline - by NOT disciplining those who act in violent ways..this in effect bring some sort of leveling as to what subsets of students end up disciplined more.
Not only does your email not detail anything about what occurred, which is not only unacceptable, but which is truly disturbing and should make for a sleepless night for any parent with a conscience and who loves their child... - but also are we to assume that these pupils just go about their day as usual the next day with no discipline or consequences for their actions, until the next psychodrama of unbridled anger breaks out? Certainly by now those instigating will from experience feel their aggression (completely unacceptable by any objective moral standard of Western civilization) will ultimately go unchecked at the end of the day. Sure, police were called. Sure, police responded. Sure, there is a police incident report that any concerned parent of any West student should wish to follow up on - especially since it would actually say what happened, IN CONTRAST to your email - which seems is just being sent as a formality because it HAS to be sent, but which fails to tell parents really anything about what actually happened.
These pupils, allowed to continue in this mode of unacceptable behavior, have likely come to see the police stepping in as just a temporary hindrance and not anything to really have any deterring effect to make them reconsider continuing that lifestyle of violent aggression. My son and most of his peers have come to feel there is no safe space from this subset of pupils - and that it is just a fact of life - almost as if living in a war zone - that it is only a matter of time before all hell breaks loose again, They are shell shocked, living with PTSD, and living in constant fear - because they KNOW that nothing will come of it when these things happen - and they KNOW that is exactly why they KEEP happening.
I can tell you, Principal Boran, that the vast majority of students DO comply with proper behavior AND JUST AS MUCH SO, I can tell you that that same majority of West students DO FEEL that West is not a safe place to go to school - and the reason they feel this way is very simple. The students at West are not stupid. And because they are not stupid they are all too horribly aware of the stark reality that a CONCERTED UNWILLINGNESS TO CRACK DOWN ON UNACCEPTABLE BEHAVIORS - essentially a NON-DISCIPLINE POLICY - is what creates an environment that any concerned parent would find untenable, unacceptable, and frankly, would see as a broken system. The vast majority are therefore at the mercy of the tyranny of the few who DO engage in repeated unacceptable aggressive behaviors - and at the mercy of the school policy that coddles the offenders and brings fear to the hearts of the students who behave properly and just want to learn and make it home each day without "incident."
When, might I ask, will the Principal of the formerly highly regarded West High School, take it upon him or herself to be the ONE - to put an end to the chaos? When, might I ask, will there be a Principal who will describe in detail to parents exactly what happened when an incident like this occurs? And when. might all parents of West students ask - when will there be a Principal at West who ends this inane non-discipline policy such as it is - a failed and dangerous to the point of verging on civil suit territory - system in which the SAME aggressors are just essentially enabled to continue in their cycle of keeping the entire school afraid and unsafe?
I am going to follow up with the local news media (who will be invited to engage with me and other parents regarding the problem) and the police department and follow this policy to the roots, hoping to tear it out root and branch - it must be exposed to the light of day for what it is - a policy which endangers ALL at West and brings shame upon the formerly highly regarded name of West High - all in the name of going easy on those who make West the total opposite of a "safe space." This policy is no longer acceptable in the post-Cruz era. I look forward to your reply and engaging further on the matter until it is resolved. It is no longer acceptable to just resign ourselves to these "incidents" as a fact of life and just "report" them as they occur in vaguely worded emails to parents - the time has come to bring about change for the better.
I can tell you that in my day, none of this would have been accepted as a fact of life, and I think we need to come full circle back to a place of common sense and safety. The social experiment has gone on long enough and has made a culture of fear and apprehension in which the accepted violence of the few forms a tyranny over the majority who are peaceful students who just want a safe place to learn. As an aside I can tell you there are great numbers of TEACHERS as well who feel the same way but who are all but silenced and made to submit to the groupthink that engenders such insanity - for fear of rocking the boat. These teachers have the same fear in their hearts, and that is just a sad thing indeed. I think you will agree Principal Boran - and I and so many others can only hope you can be a beacon of hope in this truly scary time
Thank you for your consideration,