TREND Spring 2020 - Page 33

gets his or her way, day after day, to destroy a classroom. When processes are flawed, systems inadvertently fail. We should all want to create a system that serves our students and to do that we must get the discipline process right. TEACHERS DISCIPLINE ACT Creating a more integrated system is what House Bill 2134/Senate Bill 2252 will do for our schools in Tennessee. The legislation, known as the Teacher’s Discipline Act, authorizes a teacher to manage the teacher’s classroom, discipline students, and refer a student to the principal or the principal’s designee to maintain discipline in the classroom. The legislation authorizes a teacher to remove a student from the classroom whose behavior interferes with the learning process, violates the student code of conduct, or poses a safety threat and establishes the process for a student’s removal and return to the classroom. Critics want to play on the fear that some teachers will simply remove all students from their classrooms. It is clear this scare tactic is promulgated by those who have neither read the legislation or do not comprehend it. Three safety features are built into this process: 1) The LEA itself establishes the process, which includes adherence to federal and state laws; 2) The principal still ultimately makes the decision on student removal; 3) Students themselves are afforded an opportunity to explain the situation. States like Georgia, Texas, and Florida already have much more robust and stricter laws to address student discipline. It is worth noting that in Georgia, suspension and expulsion rates have now decreased in recent years. Children cannot learn in a classroom where their teachers spend a significant amount of time dealing with student discipline issues. It can be unsafe for the teacher and the other students, and significantly disrupts the learning environment. In Who Killed School Discipline? author Kay Hymowitz wrote: “When students believe that the adults around them are not only fair but genuinely concerned with protecting them, the school can become a community that, like a good family, inspires affection, trust.” We need a better process for our discipline issues to create a better public-school system. House Bill 2134/Senate Bill 2252 is a step in the right direction. PROBLEMS WITH RESTORATIVE JUSTICE When we look at education today, we see so many teachers, parents, and children disconnected. Society is being torn apart and our culture is changing before our eyes. Parents are out of the picture, and children are raising themselves. Parents do not trust schools, and teachers are not supported by parents. Children