Part 1 Discipline: Has school discipline become undisciplined?

Armand A. Fusco, Ed.D.:

(It will be very important to read the end of Part 3)

Any educator can tell you that discipline is by far the most challenging of all issues facing teachers, administrators, and schools in general; that’s why teachers rank it as their number one problem. In its twenty-two year existence, the Annual Gallup Poll has identified “lack of discipline” as the most serious and difficult problem facing the nation’s educational system; without discipline learning becomes an orphan to disruption.

Numbers will add a reality to the problem: In a survey taken by the American Federation of Teachers “66 percent of the members reported having been verbally abused by a student, 32 percent had been threatened or assaulted, and 20 percent had administrators refuse to remove a disruptive student.” Data from Indicators of School Crime and Safety, 2001, indicates that teachers were the victims of 1,700,000 non-fatal crimes at school; and what is important to note is that this number only includes disciplinary problems that were reported to police.

The reality is that discipline problems are the major reason why teachers leave the profession within the first five years. Better pay will certainly not solve this problem, but perhaps hazardous duty pay would help to compensate school personnel for what they have to endure day in and day out.

However, there is a rather disturbing issue surrounding this problem. When principals were surveyed (Violence and Discipline Problems in U.S. Public Schools 1996-97), 43% perceived discipline issues as no more than minor in their school, 41% indicated it was a moderate problem and only 16% perceived at least one discipline issue as a serious problem. How is it that teachers and the public polls report discipline as the number one school problem, but only 16% of the principals see it as a serious problem? This difference in perception may help explain why discipline is so undisciplined.

PART 6 Finance—Can a SchStat program enhance the treasure chest?