Since I announced my candidacy, I have spoken with many individuals who have stressed to me their concerns for stronger discipline to be brought back to the schools. I have listened to multiple stories of students disrespecting teachers and staff in ways that left me in shock. I was informed of several similar incidents of students severely verbally abusing staff without consequence.
In March 2023, an article was written in the News Herald discussing the increase of disciplinary issues within the school system giving strong evidence to the concerns that I was informed of. In the article, school personnel stated that Covid was to blame and that they do not like to issue out-of-school suspensions as a consequence for misbehavior and instead are “looking for creative solutions to help shift the tide of increased school disruptions.” The article went on to say that “we are a district that is not big on over-suspension or expulsion” and “the majority of our out-of-school suspensions are for aggressive acts.” I believe that one could argue that verbally assaulting a teacher or staff is a pretty aggressive act that should require aggressive discipline to stop the behavior.
While we all understand that "kids will be kids" and the extended covid shutdowns took children out of their classroom routine. However, we MUST get back on track. Disrespect and aggressive acts towards both staff and other students cannot be tolerated. Students who refuse to follow the rules and cause classroom disruptions cannot continue to affect the learning of other students. Teachers are having to manage teaching their class and dealing with disruptions and disrespectful treatment by some students.
According to data provided by the North Carolina Department of Instruction, there was a 24% increase in crime and violence in high schools. Studies have shown that poor discipline can lead to poor academic performance.
Discipline issues are very problematic for teachers as well. This creates a stressful environment and hinders them from teaching our students to their full abilities. In a 2022 North Carolina Teaching Working Conditions Survey, just 72% of our educators felt that students followed the rules of conduct along with another 30% believing that bullying was an issue.
Discipline issues are causing teacher retention issues as well. Undisciplined students create a stressful environment, and many teachers are exiting BCPS to go to other districts or totally leaving the profession. Some even worry about being assaulted by unruly students. Teachers’ spouses have informed me of the stress and the hardships that it has put on their loved ones.
I believe that policy is in place to address the discipline issue, but school administrators must start following it firmly and consistently. I feel that many administrators are worried about the numbers rather than the issues that undisciplined students are causing.