Sunday, September 7, 2008

What to do about bullying in school?

Michael Bloomberg, NYC mayor, recently announced regulations meant to combat bullying in schools. I don't think legislating rules is the best way to combat this universal problem.

Bullying happens. Unfortunately, some teachers are unaware of it even when it is happening right in front of them. My theory, untested, is that anyone, having been the victim of bullying in school, is more aware of it than other people.

Teachers need to be made aware of the signs of bullying and be given tools that they can use in the halls and classrooms to help mitigate bullying. The other side of the equation is student training. School administrations should be running programs in the schools that help students 'buy into' a school culture of kindness, equity, and of course, non-violence. A former colleague used to say, "Those kids need to be paper trained." Kidding aside, the students often do need to be trained and the adults in the school environment need to recognize the seeds of harassment.

And violent students should be removed from the schools.

D.C. Schools to Pay Some Students

Fourteen middle schools in the D.C. area will be paying students up to $100 every two weeks. The criteria:
Academic Performance

The program costs, $2.7 million, will be split between D.C. and Harvard University.

The trend seems to be sweeping across the country. Five states experimenting with cash-for-grades programs.

I once read a story about Ivana Trump. She described how when she was young and not working very hard in school, her father sent her to work in a shoe factory that he owned. It did not take long for her to decide to return to school and do well.

The tax payers in D.C. are paying about $24,600 per pupil, per year for students in public schools, which is more than twice as much as the average private school tuition in the area. If students are not working hard, and especially if they are misbehaving, maybe they should be required to do some work service, perhaps with the Conservation Corps, or picking up litter around the monuments, raking leaves in the parks, etc. to earn a minimum wage. I bet it wouldn't be long before they wanted to return to school.

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