Schools: What’s Wrong And How To Fix It

News and opinions about our flawed and failing education system in the wake of violent attacks on teachers by so-called learners and the continued use of corporal punishment have resulted in a blame game between unions, the authorities and parents (Daily News, September 18) which is not going to fix anything.

The blunt reality is that education has become a casualty of excessive democratisation.

Teachers are no longer the kings and queens of their classrooms. Indeed their professionalism has been eroded to the point of virtual extinction by bureaucracy and politicisation. It’s a case of too many cooks have spoilt the broth.

Here’s what’s wrong and how to fix it:

  1. School appointments and promotions should be purely by educational authorities which are staffed by professionally qualified personnel. No union lobbying. No parent body involvement/ interference.
  2. Schools are for children – not adults. No enrolment of learners over the age of 19.
  3. Repetitive insubordination by a learner should be addressed by the District Superintendent and Principal and the culprit told that should he fail to reform he will be expelled.
  4. Violence against teachers involving weapons: immediate expulsion. No suspensions, probations or appeals. Firm, non-negotiable boundaries and deterrents are the only way to restore order, safety and sanity in schools.
  5. Corporal punishment: to be re-established as part of school discipline and to be applied only by the Principal or his Deputy. Letters of Warning and paperwork have no deterrent effect. The realisation that misdemeanours will result in a caning worked in the past and ensured that discipline and order prevailed.
  6. Teachers to be in classrooms and not at union meetings during school hours.
  7. Parent bodies: to confine their activities to fund-raising, buildings and grounds maintenance, newsletters and magazines. Objections and concerns about educators to be directed to the Education Dept. and/or the provincial parliamentary education portfolio.

Professionalism has to be restored in schools which have to be seen as establishments of learning and the inculcation of sound social values, respect and decorum. Vandalism, violence, thuggery, intimidation and insubordination which have been allowed to fester through liberal tolerance and excessive democratisation, have to be prohibited.

Going to school and receiving an education needs to be seen as an uplifting, scholarly process that has to be respected and jealously guarded. Those who refuse to conform or comply and who jeopardise that process have to be decisively dealt with.

Of course, howls of dismay and opposition no doubt will greet the above. But, having spent 34 years in high schools watching a once sound system implode, the only way out of the mess is to apply what used to work.

Sent into The Daily News, 22 September 2017.

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