Why Public Education Is Failing And How You Can Fix It Smart Classroom Management

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I happened to see an email from a teacher designating a list of students as those who would be assigned an “alternative” final project.

Alternative in this case meant easier.

Evidently, this group of students failed to meet a series of benchmarks leading up to the due date, which was in mere days.

Setting aside for the moment whether or not you agree with even allowing an alternative so late in the game, the teacher included in their missive that the students didn’t meet the requirements “because of no fault of their own.”

No fault of their own.

My immediate thought was “Well then whose fault was it?” If the students’ failed—and let’s be honest, they did—then who dropped the ball? And how were the rest of students able to fulfill the requirements over the weeks and months leading up to the final project?

In other words, who is responsible? This is an important question because without someone taking responsibility, then it’s all a ruse. It’s window dressing over failure. It’s fakery to avoid the like-it-or-not truth that the students didn’t put in the work.

Honestly, this makes me feel as if I spent a day whale watching in the Pacific. Absolutely sick.

Maybe that seems harsh to you. But what we’re doing to students, and to the entire American educational system, which is spiraling into depths unseen, is propping them (and it) up with a magnificently gargantuan lie.

There is so much fear of looking bad (or worse than we already do) that we would rather sacrifice our students and their future by ignoring their pitiful academic skills and passing them along until they’re out of the system and no more our problem.

Reading and math scores are terrible and misbehavior is beyond the pale because ever since they were in kindergarten our students have . . .

Not been allowed to fail.

Given excuse after excuse.

Never really been expected to do their work.

Received way too much individual “help.”

Had little if any responsibility on their shoulders.

Been treated as if they can’t do it.

Had every excuse indulged and encouraged.

Had their grades inflated.

Been treated as if any offense to their tender psyche will ruin them forever.

Been getting never-ending chance after chance.

No, not every student. A small minority are self-motivated, come from a family culture of hard work, or see the light through an exceptional teacher or role model and thus don’t need any of the above.

Yet tens of thousands of teachers and administrators, brainwashed by the idea that high standards of behavior and demanding applied study are mean and/or discriminatory, will deny this is happening to your face while continuing to do it every single day.

I’m not denying that there are students with true learning disabilities that can benefit from alternative methods of teaching. Though small in number, they exist. However, they too often fall under the descriptions above.

The larger point is that when we lighten the weight of responsibility to listen, learn, and behave students do much worse in all three. They must feel healthy burden from morning bell to dismissal in order to succeed.

This weight, in the form of responsibility they cannot shirk or have others shirk for them, also feels good.

It fills them with purpose and pride in excellence and in work done well. It empowers them with belief in themselves, true self-worth, and confidence that they can overcome obstacles and prove wrong the silent naysayers—who sadly are often many adults on campus.

Real responsibility enables them to see what hard work looks and feels like. Most students in this day and age have no idea. Not even close. Yet, we send them out into the world like lambs to the slaughter.

No skills. No work ethic. And no will to do anything about it.

Sadly, the very students who need it the most—from broken homes, poverty, and gang violence—are given the least amount of responsibility.

Letting them off the hook may feel good. It may feel like the right thing to do in the moment. It may be something that they want and beg for, which is why it’s epidemic in nearly every public school.

But it crushes them in the end.

While students must take responsibility for their job—which is to listen, learn, and behave—we as teachers must take responsibility for ours—which is to hold them accountable for behavior that is required for success in school and teach great lessons expecting/demanding that they do the assigned work all on their own.

This is the answer. It’s how teachers, one by one, and then schools and districts can right the sinking ship diving fast for the bottom.

It’s a model which undergirds all of our strategies here at SCM and that ironically results in far fewer students failing and far more legitimately succeeding.

It’s also the only way.

But to get there you have to throw away the excuses, stop all the lies and coverups, and refuse to take part in the charade of fake grades and do-nothing credit that damages kids beyond repair.

PS – There are a lot great teachers and schools fighting the good fight. There is also a growing legion of SCM teachers infiltrating every school district.

If you too are sick and tired of the sham and dishonesty, and ineffective teaching and classroom management methods, please join us. Everything you need to have the class and school community you’ve always wanted can be found right here on our website.

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