Madison’s Adoption of the Kronenberg “Positive Behavior Support” Principles

Doug Erickson:

A couple of years ago, the students likely would have been suspended. But under a new approach to discipline being tried in the district, the students instead were given the option of coming up with a fix-it plan — something more than just saying, “I’m sorry.”
The students chose to spend all of their recesses over the next two days playing catch with a football, just the two of them.
“They came back and reported that they did much better playing together, and that was the end of it,” said school social worker Mike Behlke.
District employees hope the approach will reduce out-of-school suspensions, which have been slowly rising at some schools and often have little effect other than causing the students to miss class.

Madison Parent has more:

The MMSD has high expectations for Kronenberg (”As a result of this training student behavior will improve leading to greater success in school. Both student behavioral referrals to staff and suspensions will decrease.” [from the 07-08 Aristos Grant description]). The WSJ piece does its part to create the impression that those expectations are well on the way to being achieved. But, as the scientific adage goes, anecdotes do not equal data. Since we’re in the final few days of a school year in which at least a dozen of the district’s elementary schools and at least two of the middle schools have had a year of working and living with this system, data should be available at this point on the actual incidence of classroom disruption, threats and violence as experienced by students and teachers in schools that have implemented Kronenberg, in those that have not, how they compare to each other, and how they compare over time; and that data ought to be made available to the public.

16 thoughts on “Madison’s Adoption of the Kronenberg “Positive Behavior Support” Principles”

  1. This WSJ article could not have been more timely. We had a meeting with some staff and parents at our school, Orchard Ridge Elementary, that same evening. Both before and after, I’ve talked with parents at other schools who all agree that the article was horribly misleading – that discipline continues to be an enormous problem and is getting worse. And that this discretionary, overly soft, coddle-the-perpetrator “Above the Line” program is completely ineffective.
    The overall tenor of our meeting at ORE last night was rather disappointing. We only invited a small handful of parents and staff to try to keep the discussion positive and manageable. But the bottom line was typical: Many parents left feeling like the staff (principal, school social worker, school psych and two teachers) listened but did not even begin to hear. They nod politely but don’t offer feedback. They stay mum when we bring up an idea that they have no intention of initiating but don’t offer any alternatives of their own.
    When we asked for specific numbers of incidents this year compared to previous years at our school and across other elementary schools, we weren’t given any. We were just told the percentages from 2005 and 2006 of suspensions and that we were in line with those numbers this year. When we asked about non-suspension figures (data on anything that is not “above the line” behavior, the staff mumbled and distracted or stayed silent. There were comments that the ‘referral’ form (incident record) filled out for such things aren’t computerized yet so it’s all in transition, and we were told not all teachers fill out the forms all the time, etc. (A teacher today told me she didn’t even know they were SUPPOSED to fill out the forms this year; she thought they’d stopped doing that at our school.)
    We were given the district mantra on the Above the Line concept – with a huge emphasis on how, with the incredible mobility the schools see (kids moving from one to another throughout the year, etc.), it’s important to have a program like this that offers them the consistency from school to school. But many of us parents pointed out that there’s no consistency from classroom to classroom or incident to incident, much less school to school. One teacher may be more sympathetic than another, or one may have a higher tolerance level than another. So what would pass for back-talk and a consequence with one teacher may not yield any reaction from another, because the teachers are given discretion. And when the principal says that teachers don’t fill out the referral forms all the time, it’s clear that there’s no consistency.
    Parents brought to the table concerns with consistency (and how seriously the staff takes discipline) with several incidents, for example: One kid chokes another on the playground and doesn’t have to apologize, nor is he suspended. Ditto with a kid who apparently kicked a teacher in the chest. But we’re not told WHY these kids were not reprimanded, only that things happen behind the scenes that we don’t see. One kid shoves another kid, and the parents are called and told staff will sit down with the two kids and talk to them together, but it never happens. The situation – from victim’s perspective – is just ignored.
    When we explained to the staff that – especially when it comes to kids – perception IS reality, and the kids do not perceive that typical bad stuff yields consequences, then we’re just told that we should tell the kids there ARE consequences. But our kids tell us that there aren’t, and they report fewer and fewer problems because “nothing’s going to happen anyway,” and because they’re concerned with retribution from the kid in question.
    When we asked what we can do to encourage more engagement with parents next year – letting us know via letter if an incident occurs in front of a group of kids or on the playground, rather than just between two kids more privately – the staff wavered between privacy policy issues and suggesting that we should just let them handle it and not worry about it. I mentioned that I’d had a couple teachers tell me that if we believe half of what our kids say about school, then the teachers will believe half of what the kids say about home – explaining that kids are prone to huge exaggeration. So I suggested that – using that logic – if our kids tell us about an incident at school, wouldn’t the staff rather that the parents hear the CORRECT version instead of one that may have made its way through the kiddie rumor mill? No staff member replied to that.
    We all agreed as parents that, next year when it comes to discipline, we really want that notification to happen. And we want the staff to insist on some measure of contrition on the part of the perpetrator — whether admitting bad behavior in front of the class and asking to be reinstated to the “tribe” (if the class uses that community building term, though only one classroom in our school does), or apologizing one-on-one to the victim and allowing the victim to say how the action felt, or writing a note to a parent chaperone to whom a kid mouthed off on a field trip (“You can’t tell me what to do!”).
    We were all happily agreeing that this was a much-needed and much-lacking component of the discipline process – instilling a sense of responsibility and accountability – and suddenly we were feeling that the meeting was getting really productive. But then I asked, rather pointedly, whether *the principal and staff* were buying in to this element and would enforce it next year, and I was met with several awkward moments of silence. Finally, “It’s something to look at and discuss” – which, in my experience with MMSD, pretty much means that it doesn’t fit their idea of how the program works, so they’ll ignore it, thank you very much. No one on staff came out and said that they would or wouldn’t do this, and no one offered any ideas of how to accomplish these goals in a different way that might be more in keeping with the program. More “listening but not hearing.”
    One thing we want to look at is: Just what IS the district’s privacy policy? I’ve searched for it on the MMSD Web site, and I’ve found references to it, but I don’t see it spelled out anywhere. I’m guessing that the district (or at least my school’s administration) has gone overboard in their interpretation of it. Making sure a child’s disciplinary history doesn’t follow him on his “permanent record” (remember when we were all worried about that! ) or not revealing the income status of a child is totally different than not telling parents that an incident has occurred and how it has been dealt with.
    Only the victim’s parents need to know who the perpetrator is, I think, and we’re not even told that. (What if they’re on the same soccer team together or go to after-school care together? Wouldn’t it be wise for parents to know WHO so they can better protect their child outside the school, too?)
    But the rest of the witnesses’ parents (be they on the playground or in a classroom) surely ought to be told that “one kid held a baseball bat over his head and was poised to strike another child. Two classmates pulled the bat away, and the child was sent to the principal and has been suspended for three days.”
    How is that violating a privacy law? Wouldn’t it reassure parents to know that the school takes issues seriously and deals with them appropriately?
    The staff at the meeting said they believed discipline is not the issue we think it is – it’s no worse than in previous years. They don’t believe the kids think so, either, despite what we’re telling them. One parent asked pointedly: “So why do you think we’re all HERE tonight?” The staff member just said, “I really don’t know.” That same staff member also said, “You know, you each can call me or the principal whenever you want. We don’t have to have a big old meeting for things like this.” Which was just another sign that they don’t get it. We all HAVE talked with staff members individually, and nothing has changed. So now we’re looking at it as a group.
    At one point, when the staff was talking about how ‘respect’ would be the primary component of the social message at ORE next year, I pointed out that the district PowerPoint slides they showed us spoke a lot about being respectful to peers and staff, but not to people in general. Then the school psych said something about teaching the kids “which adults to respect.” And I said, “WHICH adults? Shouldn’t we be teaching kids to respect ALL adults?” Sure, I know we need to talk about good-touch/bad-touch and child enticements and the bad guys that are out there. But if there’s an adult on the school grounds whom a student feels he/she should NOT respect, then I want the staff to get that adult the heck off the campus!
    I just don’t understand why some of the staff at my school (and the district, too? I don’t know yet…) seems to feel that the parents are enemies and/or that we shouldn’t worry our pretty little heads about stuff that goes on at school. That’s certainly the attitude we’ve been confronted with, time after time after time, whether the issue is helping kids succeed academically or dealing with discipline or anything in between.
    My husband is the one who organized this discipline meeting (I wanted a fresh voice to head this up, instead of just “Diane, that instigating PTO president!”), and we’ll talk to the parents who were there about what step we should take next and what our expectations are. I feel certain that we need to pull in school board members ASAP. If they’re going to be hiring a new superintendent soon, then they need to know how strongly parents feel about choosing someone who will provide a much stronger leadership position when it comes to discipline and engagement of parents in solutions. Because the silence, the double-talk, and hiding behind regulations simply isn’t acceptable.
    If this district is committed to differentiation instead of skills-grouping of children in elementary and middle schools, and if they continue to want to water down the honors offerings in high school, then they need to be committed to making sure that the learning environment is the best it can possibly be. It’s hard enough for teachers to differentiate curriculum across so many levels when the kids are angels. It’s next to impossible when several of the kids are consistently unruly.
    If any of you have had positive results in going from poor discipline to better at your schools, I’d love to hear your success stories ( – because we’re committed to making a positive change, not just whining.
    If any of you are (or know) PTO presidents and would like to be on a listserv of current/former PTO presidents who want to work together as a single, common voice (the better to be heard at the district!), please let me know. I vacillate between telling myself, “I’m not an educator! This is not my job!” and “Suck it up, Diane! You have to go out there and be an advocate for your kids.” Looks like the latter voice is winning these days. 🙂

  2. Well done ORE parents!! My child just finished eighth grade at Toki…just down your hallway. You are absolutely right to call into question your building administration’s attitude toward discipline.
    I have been a parent of two students in the MMSD for 11 years, but not an ORE parent, and my kids will both be at Memorial next year. Over those many years, I believe that the majority of my children’s teachers have bent over backwards to help ALL their students learn to be good citizens in their class and school community.
    Recently, I have struggled to help my adolescent children understand “why” some kids are unruly and disrespectful in their schools.
    Unfortunately, through the years, there have been a small number of students in their classrooms that struggle with understanding their own responsibilities in behaving as good members of the “school community.” Should I say, they are lacking in social decorum skills?
    So, as the school district administration’s attempt to establish uniform and consistent behavior expectations across the K-12 spectrum in our schools moves forward, we must continue to make sure that ALL parents of ALL children become stakeholders in this endeavor. I would suggest that we remember that not all students have parents/guardians that understand “their role” in preparing their children to be responsible and respective members of their learning communities.
    Oh, by the way…I’ve been an elementary teacher in the district for 21 years. I know that it takes hard work all day, every day to educate all children. I will be attending training for this “new” discipline program this summer. I wonder how different it will look than what’s already being done in my elementary schoool? I’ll keep you posted in the fall.

  3. Diane,
    You are correct on so many levels about the problem of fairly applying the new solutions to behavior and discipline issues.
    First your feeling that the parents are enemies is most likely correct. That comes from the same destructive pervasive attitude that permeates the district. This insidious attitude starts at the top and gradually works its way into most interactions through out the district. Madison has a we versus them district with little or no real “give and take.”
    Every question or comment is seen as a threat. Principal vs. staff. The district vs. an individual school. The administration vs. the school board. You name it, and it is a we vs. them situation. You’ve got it correct.
    As for your concerns with consistency implementing the new policy, you must realize that schools are evaluated by the number of suspensions and police calls, in particular when students of color are involved. In many cases no action or minimal action is taken whether the offence is serious or not. It looks better. The principal and staff are judged on that data. Remember the we-versus-them mentality?
    And last but not least; the ‘referral’ form or incident record takes TIME to complete. In order to complete the necessary paper work a classroom teacher must stop everything with a group or class and complete the paper work with the perpetrator who may or may not be willing to come up with an appropriate consequence. Classroom teachers are masters at multi-tasking but to properly complete the paper work is next to impossible.

  4. The change in policy is most definitively a positive step, but not if it doesn’t work, and I think Diane’s detailed accounting of the meeting with ORE staff is quite compelling.
    The report “Opportunities Suspended: The Devastating Consequences of Zero Tolerance and School Discipline Policies” from Harvard’s Civil Rights Project notes that minority kids, especially blacks, are punished at school, and placed into the criminal justice system for which same behavior by whites within the same schools are tolerated. And minor issues are excuses for harsh discipline:
    “A zero tolerance story from the state of Mississippi exemplifies the extremely harsh disciplinary approach used in many school systems and the increasing invocation of the criminal justice system for minor school behavioral issues. At the beginning of this school year, students on a school bus were playfully throwing peanuts at one another. A peanut accidentally hit the white female bus driver, who immediately pulled over to call the police. After the police arrived, the bus was diverted to the courthouse, where children were questioned. Five African-American males, ages 17 and 18, were then arrested for felony assault, which carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison. The Sheriff commented to one newspaper, “[T]his time it was peanuts, but if we don’t get a handle on it, the next time it could be bodies. The young men lost their bus privileges and suspension was recommended. As a result of the assistance of an attorney and community pressure, the criminal charges were dismissed. However, all five young men, who were juniors and seniors, dropped out of school because they lacked transportation to travel the 30 miles to their school in this poor, rural county in the Mississippi Delta. The impact of the punishment was underscored by one of the young men who stated, “I [would have] gone to college…. Maybe I could have been a lawyer.” This story may be incredulous, but it is true; it epitomizes the recent overreaction to non-violent childish behavior, and the impact of senseless punishment.”
    Another recent report, which I have not found again — I’ll eventually post a reference –indicated that Wisconsin (not necessarily Madison) is one of the worst states for discriminatory enforcement of school rules.
    But the attitude of MMSD? That’s another issue.
    “I just don’t understand why some of the staff at my school (and the district, too? I don’t know yet…) seems to feel that the parents are enemies and/or that we shouldn’t worry our pretty little heads about stuff that goes on at school. That’s certainly the attitude we’ve been confronted with, time after time after time, whether the issue is helping kids succeed academically or dealing with discipline or anything in between.”
    You truly have hit on the basic if not defining characteristic of MMSD — the parents ARE the enemy, and the staff are the experts. MMSD’s attitudes and penchant for secrecy rightfully invokes distrust, and absolutely harms any positive results that MIGHT be a result in a change in disciplinary procedures.
    Frankly, I see nothing in the past nor foreseeable future that would indicate MMSD staff changing how they do business and how they treat the community.

  5. This kind of thing is always sticky. The district was big on peace flags, tribes, and having “guidance” time from the psychologist/social worker in the past. This sounds like just another name for the same thing. Bottom line is that one program will not work for all students.
    “Parents are enemies”. Yes, there are staff (both as teachers and administrators) across the district who come across this way. Sometimes they feel that the staff are the “educated ones” and that parents don’t know anything. Sometimes these staff have a low self esteem and feel that everyone is challenging their abilities. Other times, I have seen parents who don’t understand their own children. They are pushing them in academics, sports, and/or the arts and not listening to what the child wants or needs (or vice versa and not allowing them to follow his/her child’s interests).
    I remember a setting where parents wanted more staff on the playground and came up with a schedule of having volunteers come help (not an easy task in it’s own right – everyone complains but only a few are willing to step up to the plate). Some parents did a great job, whereas other parents didn’t want to look like the bad guy in fron of their kid’s friends so they didn’t intervene with that child. Some children gave the attitude that these parents were nobodies. Some parents would watch their own children and not the larger group. So there was the interest in solving a problem, just not the correct resources.
    The privacy issue is a major issue, many people have been sued because they have shared info (trying to be helpful). If a staff member shared with parent B that child A has HIV (just in case the child get’s hurt at parent B’s home). The staff member could be sued. It really is up to the parents to share this info with each other and why open communication with their own children is a must.
    There isn’t a clear cut “discipline” policy that can work, because for different people, different reprimands are received differently. For some, a time out can be drastic, but for others a suspension just means a few days to sleep in. For some, maybe medication is needed (or reevaluated), and for others, it is learning how to talk with adults about their personal lives.
    There are times where MMSD has taken situations out of control over the years. Like when a 6th grader was working on a science research project and brought a knife in to cut up an onion. He was suspended, doing what he thought he was suppose to do. Or where a special ed kindergartener touched another kindergartener inappropriately. Police were to be called on this situation.
    These are reasons some families look at alternatives in education, whether they move, go private, or homeschool. They just have gotten tired of the attitude that you can educate them for the first 5 years of their life, but now “we” know better than you do.

  6. Edukation4u:
    Thanks. Those extremes are why I just don’t get the resistance to parental help/interest right now, at least in my school earlier this week. We’re not asking for extreme discipline. We’re asking for BASIC behavior standards and consequences. Yet pretty much the first comments out of our school social worker at the meeting were (verbatim), “What? So you want to go back to corporal punishment and dunce caps?”
    No one said that. No one even INTIMATED that. The meeting had barely been started! Not a great way to kick things off, with such a divisive comment. (Hopefully she was just having a bad day; I hate to think this sort of antagonistic attitude is what we can typically expect from trained social workers in MMSD.)
    The most important thing we want is something the district slideshow for Above the Line ALREADY touts: consistency. If they can’t manage that, then the policy is just a useless piece of paper.
    It has to be consistent from school to school, from classroom to classroom, and from incident to incident. If the policy suggests that the teachers and principal have discretion in certain areas, then consistency simply can’t be achieved. Discretion suggests bias. It doesn’t suggest that a given behavior will yield a given consequence for every child. Children don’t know what to expect. (So much for the “High 5 expectations” we have at our school ….maybe they should be called “High 5 Ways We’d Like You To Behave, If It’s Not Too Much Trouble.”)
    That means consistently disciplining for any behavior that is not above the line, and making sure the type of discipline given for such infractions is consistent. If you call a parent for one child, you call a parent for every child who commits that same offense.
    If you want to use the “reformative justice” language of this policy and give a child a choice on how he wants to “fix” the problem, then give him a choice of two or three things – two or three things that have already been prescribed, not any old two or three things he can come up with. If you want to let the child decide if he wants to apologize, give him a choice: Would you like to apologize in person or by writing a note? NOT apologizing should NOT be an option. That doesn’t meet the accountability standard the policy calls for.
    Some of the staff members at our meeting said they never force a child to apologize. Why? Because so many apologies “aren’t sincere.” Well, boo hoo! So what – we give the child the power to commit the infraction, we give the child the power to decide his own consequence, and we give the child the power to decide whether or not his victim is worthy of an apology?
    And we tell the victim, what? “Tough luck, and toughen up?” (One teacher – after a child was threatened with a makeshift weapon – told that child’s parent that maybe he was “too sensitive” and that maybe they could work on that. I’ve heard a few staff members say that we need to prepare children for the real world, as if letting all this slide is the grand plan.)
    These are CHILDREN, not young adults, not Ph.Ds. We need to stop giving so much power to children – especially those who misbehave – because they’re clearly not capable of wielding it properly. WE are grown-ups. It’s OUR responsibility to teach them right from wrong, not ask them sweetly to try to puzzle it out.
    We’re ending up with children who are slowly ruling the schools. (Perhaps not so much yet in the elementary schools, but I hear this from middle and high school parents a lot.) The kids choose not to behave, they choose not to learn, and they choose to make the environment uncomfortable for everyone.
    Do we really believe that we’re doing them any favors – that when they go out there into society (after they’ve dropped out, because they surely won’t graduate), their boss is going to say, “Oh, I’m so sorry that you’re have trouble in your home life/that your grandmother died/that you’re getting divorced… That must be why you tried to choke the crap out of your coworker. Have you taken a few breaths now? Do you want to take a few more minutes to journal about what’s going on? Feel better? OK – just go back out and go to work. No, don’t apologize if you don’t want to; I’m sure your coworker won’t mind continuing to work alongside you. It won’t affect his work habits at all!”
    That’s not any “real world” I’m familiar with, and the discipline policies we have in school certainly aren’t preparing ANYONE for the REAL real world.
    If MMSD’s discipline policy has any meat to it, then the second time a child commits a same offense, the level of consequence will increase. And so on.
    A form should be filled out (computerized or otherwise) for each instance of behavior that is not ‘above the line’ (yes, I know that’s a lot of paperwork), with a record of what happened to “fix” the problem, noted with dates. That way, if Teacher A is managing to keep problems at a basic level that requires only contact with parents, but Teacher B finds that problems in her classroom keep escalating to the degree that the principal is needed, then the data will be available to sort it out. Does Teacher B perhaps needs mentoring from Teacher A or workshop with the district to learn more effective ways of handling kids and parents? Or does it mean that Teacher B has a disproportionate number of unruly kids while Teacher A has too few? Does it mean the district needs to provide more reaching-out-style social-work support for this school, if it is home to a higher percentage of troubled families/children?
    If the staff really, truly hands out consequences and makes children accountable (which is what the program says it does) for anything that is not “above the line,” then we likely will be seeing a big spike in disciplinary actions at first. Once kids realize that the staff is serious, and that there are very clear lines as to what is acceptable and what is not, then things should settle down. So the district needs to get over it’s concern about high numbers of suspensions. Did they happen to notice that their recent decrease in suspensions coincided with the recent poor academic scores (I believe the paper said our four high schools FAILED)?
    At our meeting at ORE, some parents later told me they felt certain staff members were insinuating that we parents were just a bunch of upper-middle-class white people who wanted our kids away from poor, downtrodden black kids. That’s appalling, not to mention insulting.
    I moved here three years ago to embrace the fact that I was leaving the second city in a row that was just too white-bread and discriminatory. I don’t want my children raised in a bubble. (But I also don’t want them taught – as they apparently are at school – that it’s OK to misbehave, and that reporting bad behavior yields no results and possibly recrimination.)
    I know that as PTO president for the past two years, I’ve worked my butt off in several different ways – mostly unsuccessfully, thanks in part to zero help from the staff, despite my begging for assistance – to try to get more of the no-show parents to get involved, or at least come to a meeting and speak up.
    I also know full well that, certainly at our school, a lot of the kids who misbehave are from upper-middle-class white families.
    I don’t give a rat’s tail what the skin color or socioeconomic status is of a child who behaves. I DO care about a child’s behavior, about the staff’s reaction to it, and what those things combine end up teaching all the children in this “community.”
    If it’s OK (or if the staff looks the other way) when a second-grader flips off a teacher or when a kindergartener uses the F-word with his teacher (yes, both have happened at our school), then what are these kids going to be like in 5th grade? In middle school? In high school? The district – by God, MADISON as a whole – needs to wake up and realize how much is at stake if we keep letting bad behavior slide.
    As I said in an earlier post, kids just can’t learn – whether they’re struggling to reach grade level objectives, hoping to be challenged above grade level, or working to stay somewhere in between – if discipline problems persist. It’s not just physically disruptive; it’s emotionally disruptive.
    I’m glad to see that other people feel as strongly about this as we at ORE do. Perhaps a (disciplined) uprising is in order?

  7. Above the Line has been used at Lapham/Marquette for at least a year. I don’t know if it is the program or the staff (teachers, principals, etc) who are reponsible for what I would consider a successful school atmosphere.

  8. Laura,
    That’s terrific! Any ideas HOW they’re using it so that it’s successful? Are you seeing signs of consistency in what they’re doing? I’m hoping we just have a staff that hasn’t been trained well in the program yet or that needs a nudge to start following it more correctly – and that the program has hope of success.
    Do you know any details?

  9. Well Diane, this will probably be the least helpful post ever in the history of SIS but here goes… Lapham/Marquette is paired so there are about 250 kids or fewer per principal. The teachers, for the most part, are experienced and have worked together for a long time. In my experience, Kristi Kloos, former principal at Lapham, dealt with discipline very quickly. I always felt she was gentle but very firm with k-2 kids. Joy Larson, former principal at Marquette, was very good at connecting with kids. They respected her, they talked to her. Again, she had an experienced teaching staff who had worked together a long time. I don’t really know how they used Above the Line or if they combined it with what they have done for years using the ATL jargon. I think (my not very informed opinion) that having the younger kids separate from the older ones allows each principal and their staff to concentrate on age appropriate behavior and discipline. Having fewer kids allows the principal and staff to know all the kids. Unfortunately both Joy and Kristi have been re-assigned. Despite the huge fight over consolidation that the community won this year, I wonder how long these two schools will continue as paired schools.
    I know that parents who transfered their kids into L/M have been pleasantly surprised at how quiet the halls are and that there were few fights (I don’t know of any at L/M myself). As I said in my previous post, “I don’t know if it is the program or the staff (teachers, principals, etc) who are reponsible for what I would consider a successful school atmosphere.” Smaller school size may be one important variable.
    Good Luck and I wish I had something that was actually helpful.

  10. I prefer Sugai and Horner’s framework for positive behavior supports in schools and classrooms. It’s actually research-based and requires plans for students who have more tertiary or targeted behavioral issues. Check it out… There are some surveys on there you can do as parents about your school, etc… It’s got less room for wishy washy decision making, actually requires a team to discuss issues and make decisions INCLUDING A PARENT.

  11. Elizabeth, I’ll check that out. Thanks.
    Laura, ORE has about 240 kids in K-5. We’re a nice, small neighborhood school. No buses. Everyone is within walking distance. So having too large a school isn’t really the problem in our case. As you point out, you’d think it would HELP the situation… We’ve just had two long-time teachers retire, and I know they both were pretty irritated about discipline issues.

  12. Not that this will help solve the problem…but I heard Whoopi on Bravo this weekend talk about this same thing.
    She talked about all of us who grew up in the 60’s (and 70’s) who grew up having parents requiring us to say; yes sir, no ma’am, respect elders (and others), etc. We had tons of rules and promised when we raised our children we would be different. The problem is we are not doing the “requirements” our parents did with us, but unfortunately, our children are not learning the “requirements” when it is necessary to do those things. She said it isn’t the kids faults, but ours.
    They hear us talking about authority figures negative characteristics. There are fewer people to “look up to” who have clean records (thanks to the media spending so much attention to it). With the internet, they hear those who would be looked up on, having a checkered pass. I really don’t know how this generation of kids will learn how to behave.

  13. Diane,
    I had no idea ORE was so small. How frustrating. Someone at Mendota elementary might be able to help you. When my kids attended Lowell, we contacted the Mendota PTG. Probably 8 years ago they had parent protests etc. to get the administration to come in an figure out what had to happen to improve school climate. The parents helped hire a new principal (they had several over a short time period) and things improved. I don’t know how things are going there now. I don’t have a contact name but maybe someone involved with Mendota at that time will step forward.

  14. Diane:
    Regular SIS poster Jill J was very active in the Mendota PTO during that timeframe, I believe. I’ll let her speak for herself, but she will likely tell you that principals — particularly Mendota’s principal — can make an enormous and positive difference in the climate of a school.

  15. Phil is right. Having a fabulous principal always helps! Mendota has used the Tribes model for several years and sort of incorporated the “above the line” stuff into what was already being done within the school under Tribes. Other factors that I think have made a difference – Having high expectations for student (and parent) behavior and not tolerating inappropriate behavior in school, having a principal with a really strong special ed background, actively involving parents in the discipline process, keeping track of the data surrounding discipline referrals and using that info to inform tweaks to the discipline process itself and provision of services to the chronic offenders. The principal at Mendota can tell you at any point in time how many discipline referrals had been made, how many kids had been involved, the number of repeat offenders, the types of incidents, the demographics of the students, etc. Pretty much everything that happens at Mendota is tracked and the data analyzed so that improvements can be made going forward. One thing that has consistently stood out in the analysis of discipline data is that the majority of the issues come from kids who are new to the school and who haven’t yet learned the “Mendota way” of doing business. Referrals for discipline issues tend to drop off the longer kids are at the school. I think the staff and principal at Mendota do an amazing job. My kids are both in high school, but I still serve on the school’s Steering Committee because I learn so much about best practices and school improvement by being there.

  16. Jill,
    That is terrific information. Thanks so much for sharing. I’ll share this with my ORE parent group, because it might be great to show our principal! Can you email me off-list, too, so we can chat some more?
    Thanks again.

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