Thursday, September 20, 2007

School Days Are Different Now, Not Always Better

The protest in Jena, Louisiana made me think how much our world has changed since I went to school. I went to school in the south. My grammer school years were in Alabama, my junior and senior high schools in South Carolina. This was the days before integration. All of my classmates were white. My children all went to school with different races.

I have noticed that things are handled differently today. In Houston most of the schools are large with hundreds of children attending classes. My graduating class had 200 in it. Around here there are a lot more. Our youngest child's graduating class had over 600 in it.

Discipline has changed too. When I was in high school there were occasional fights between students. There was no ISS (in school suspension) or alternative school. The teachers, coaches and principals took care of the situation. I remember when two boys got into a fight during school. What kind of punishment did they get? After school, alone in the gym, they had to fight to the end. The football coach oversaw the fight. He gave them each boxing gloves and made them fight until they tired. No-one watching, no one egging them on. Needless to say there were not many fights at my high school. Now if there is a fight the school police department either handles it or calls the city police and charges are filed. Parents have to appear in court because their kid got in a fight. It is serious business these days. Almost every school district has it's own police department. The police have all the rights that the regular police do. They check for drugs, weapons, altercations and other things.
We didn't have that at my school.

It makes me wonder where we are going in the education of our students. Does having campus police make a high school safer? Do the students get along any better having the police there? In Houston there are many different races attending these schools.
Are our schools better or worse than schools like the one in Jena, Louisiana?

My parents taught me that there would always be people who would not like me or who would taunt or make fun of me. I experienced this in school. I was never beaten up. I did get a spelling book thrown at me in grammer school. My glasses were broken. My father called the kid's parents. The issue was solved. I was taunted in high school. My parents told me to ignore it and laugh along with them. I discovered that if I found something that I and my taunters both liked, we eventually could talk. We eventually learned to get along.

We have come a long way in the country. Have we gone far enough? Have we gone too far? Do students get along any better today than we did? I don't know the answer. I don't think six people attacking one person is the answer. What message does that send? Some say this Jena situation is a result of a double standard of justice. Is it? Maybe. Maybe there could have been a quieter way to handle the situation. Maybe we have forgotten the meaning of the word "tolerance".


Margaret said...

It's changed so much now even at the pre-school level. Squirt is in a public or rather private secular Pre-K vs. the ones at a big elementary school and there has been quite a few strange things in the past few weeks.

She says Grace before eating and so do a lot of the other children, but this is discouraged here.

I thought I could get away with not sending her to a private school for a few years. That elementary school wouldn't matter as much. I'm finding, maybe it does. Big time.

Bazza said...

My daughter Katie is in a class of 29, approximately half the class are white english, the other half are made up of many different nationalities, some of whom can't even speak english. I can't think of a better environment for her to grow up and learn in.