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Be a Teacher or Be a Bus Driver?
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Teachers in Los Angeles schools are not allowed to punish children in any way. Not only is physical punishment outlawed, but being spoken to in a loud voice, losing prized activities such as recess, experiencing time-outs or any other form of sanction are all expressly forbidden. Teachers are advised that seating a child by himself is not good because it singles him out in a negative way. And woe to the teacher who tells a child to write standards: I will not talk in class, I will not talk in class... (100 times, in your best handwriting)!

Children in school very quickly learn that the only consequence of misbehavior is a quiet talk with an adult, if that. However, an adult may not correct a child in front of others--he might embarrass the child. Therefore, he must speak to the child away from others. Teachers are counselled not to speak privately with a child for fear of being accused of abuse or impropriety of some sort. So most adults resort to admonitions addressed to the group in general, or use a phrase to correct the child's behavior that is inoffensive in the extreme (Young man, please walk in the halls. Young lady, keep your hands to yourself).

The lesson the child learns is that he can pretty much do what he wants with no consequences of any consequence. Quite a preparation for life after school.

School bus drivers are able to draw the line at behavior that can cause a dangerous situation for the driver and the bus. The riders are required to talk quietly because the driver must be able to hear what is going on. They cannot throw things around the bus, they cannot walk in the aisles, they cannot put body parts out of the window. These rules, which are published every school year and are printed on a placard in every bus, help the driver maintain order. If things get out of hand, the driver can pull over and stop and call for help on the 2-way radio.

The teacher has no such fall-back position. He cannot order a child out of his room unless there is another teacher or administrator to supervise the child. And that is discouraged, because the child is losing instructional time. No consideration is given to the fact that the child's disruptive behavior in the class is negating instructional time for the entire class of 30 or so students. One of the few situations in which the teacher can take action is when a child has a weapon or in some way is a clear physical threat to another person not the teacher. A teacher who defends himself from an attacking student is at risk of losing his job and even his freedom.

I'd rather be a bus driver, I think. How do teachers manage to teach anything?

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