Both Approaches Can Be Pursued
I was one of many parents of children in East Haven Public Schools who spoke at the Nov. 16 meeting of the Board of Education. This meeting occurred after a major fight broke out in East Haven High School the previous week that was the worst, but not the only, example of a pattern of disruptions at the high school and the middle school that are interfering with the education of our children.
The message from the parents was that the board needs to publish a clear policy of consequences for disruptive behavior and oversee the administration of the schools to see that such a policy is enforced to deter future disruptions and violence. If consequences are either non-existent, minimal, or unclear, the pattern is likely to continue and spin even further out of control.
The morning after the meeting, my wife Sandra, who works in the mental health field, asked if anyone had looked into what was making students cause the disruptions, and noted perhaps counseling would help. I see her point. Neither the hard approach of negative consequences for bad behavior nor the soft approach of counseling to find and address the causes of the anger that motivates the bad behavior is enough. Both approaches can be pursued at the same time. They must be pursued and the sooner the better.
When the situation deteriorates to the point that teachers and staff have to spend major time and effort just maintaining order, not much education can take place.