Thursday, January 28, 2010

"Gross Insubordination" - what a hammer!

What is "gross insubordination"? And what is it, when a school throws the charge at a student?

It's a hammer that the big folks at a school can throw at the little folks (the students) and have it sound really ugly to outsiders.

When I hear the term, I think of some outrageous act, a single act, committed by a student against a teacher or staff member. I won't even run down the short list of things that I think might qualify. You can probably name them more quickly than I.

But what if the school keeps track (which they are good at) of a lot of minor things and then totes them up, until the pile reaches the qualifying point for Gross Insubordination.

Let's say a student accumulates many tardy-to-class "points", used his cell phone in school for a phone call or text-message, and some other things. And even though his behavior and on-time attendance have improved, his "points" finally added up to the "Let's get rid of him" line.

Out comes the Gross Insubordination charge, an out-of-school suspension is imposed, an appeals hearing is conducted (shouldn't the first step be a hearing on the charge itself?), and then a further appeal can be made, once the hearing officer gets around to issuing the letter that defines the further appeals option.

This is a one-size-fits-all discipline plan that guarantees failure. In this case, the student was in school. That's where he should be. So, what do they do? Kick him out of school.

Today there have to be rules, regulations, procedures, plans, programs, plans in place. Whether they work or not. Administrators and coordinators think they know how to run things, because they've gone to workshops and in-service trainings and conferences.

What they fail to do is connect with the kid. It's like in the kids' movie, Matilda. "I'm right, you're wrong. I'm big, you're little. I'm smart; you're dumb." (O.K., so I realize it was Matilda's (movie) father who said those words.)

Schools need more teachers like "Miss Honey", Ron Clark and Erin Gruwell.

No comments: