Democratic 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. Zeke Stokes, campaign director for Jim Rex, responded June 28.
Q. What power does the S.C. Superintendent of Education have to change the behavior of disruptive students?
A. The State Superintendent of Education has a substantial level of power when it comes to discipline in our schools, through recommendations that lead to policies at the state and local levels and through the crafting and advocacy of legislation that directly inpacts discipline.
Q. How much time have you spent in the classroom?
A. I started my career as a high school English teacher for five years and spent thousands of hours in hundreds of classrooms across South Carolina through my work with teacher education programs at the college level.
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. Some disruptive behaviors can be prevented by teacher behavior. One only needs to observe the differences that exist from teacher to teacher and classroom to classroom. A part of the answer is to better train and prepare teachers in effective classroom management and better prepare school administrators to support teachers within each school.
Much of the disruptive behavior that exists, however, may be attributed to parents and society that no amount of teacher training or administrative policy can alleviate. Our schools must provide alternative settings for these students, who disrupt the day and are not able to function in traditional learning environments. Simply expelling these students is not a solution.