2006-06-23 / News

Libertarian candidate for S.C. Superintendent of Education speaks on discipline

Editor's note: Each candidate for S.C. State Superintendent was sent a questionnaire about how he/she would deal with the problem of discipline in the schools by email June 16 and asked to respond by June 20. The questions were geared toward specific situations and answers. Timothy Moultrie responded immediately.

By Tim Moultrie

Q. What power does the S. C. Superintendent of Education have to change the behavior of students.

A. The power of the State Superintendent of Education to change the behavior of individual students is extremely limited. This is due to the fact that disciplinary policies and the enforcement of those policies fall under district authority. However, the State Superintendent does have the authority to use the bully pulpit to notify the public and expose school districts that engage in policies that undermine common sense expectations of decorum and appropriate behavior.

Many school districts engage in selective reporting and enforcement of inappropriate and criminal behaviors because they are more interested in giving both the appearance of behavior control and maintaining the cash flow based upon average daily attendance by students. Teachers from one school reported to me that in a single week four teachers were attacked by students. The teachers were then told by the school administration that if they reported the attacks to the police then they would not have their contracts renewed. Each of the students returned to class the following day without report or penalty.

Under my administration this will stop. I will have an open-door policy for teachers to report wasteful, threatening, or inappropriate behaviors by school districts. I then intend to use every means available to me to force the school districts to change their policies. If this means dragging a district superintendent out in public for ridicule or denying a district the approval to occupy a new building, then so be it. My campaign is focused on improving education, not making friends or cozying up to the local school district administration.

Teachers should have the same expectation as every other citizen that criminal behaviors will be treated seriously by the authorities. They should never fear for their jobs should they need to call 9-1-1.

Q. How much time have you spent in the classroom?

A. I have been a classroom teacher in the public school system since my graduation with a Masters of Arts in Teaching (USC-Columbia) in 1995. In the mid-1980s, I worked as a student assistant in the USC-Aiken Psychology Department in conjunction with the Aiken Tri-Development Center. There, I developed and implemented behavior management programs (training) for the mentally retarded. Following my graduation with a Bachelor of Science in Experimental Psychology, I worked for the Babcock Center Incorporated. It was there that I developed training programs for the mentally ill, the mentally retarded, and the dually diagnosed. All together, I have spent more than a decade in the public school system and nearly 20 years training children and young people of all types of ability levels.

Q. What will you do as superintendent to stop children who talk constantly in class, children who are late to class, children who do not sit down in class, children who refuse to do as the teacher asks, children who touch other children and the teacher in any way, children who bring things to class that disrupt such as cell phones and weapons, parents who refuse to support the disciplinary actions of the teacher?

A. All of the behaviors delineated in your Question 3 fall under the umbrella of problems associated with the lack of or inappropriate enforcement of district policies as outlined above.

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