ERIC Number: ED497869
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2003-Jun
Reference Count: 0
Setting the Stage for Strong Standards: Elements of a Safe and Orderly School. Item Number 39-0235
American Federation of Teachers
In poll after poll, parents, teachers and school staff say that school safety and order are their highest school priorities. Educators know that other efforts to improve schools will not be effective without an orderly and safe learning environment. Disorderly schools severely compromise opportunities to learn. Teachers cannot teach, children cannot concentrate and irreplaceable classroom time is lost. If disorder and disrespectful behavior are tolerated, they spread. Over time, almost imperceptibly, expectations of what constitutes acceptable behavior are redefined. Gradually, more and more disruption is tolerated, until what once was unthinkable becomes the new norm and what was once a disorderly environment becomes unsafe. Children in special need of a teacher's attention are particularly hurt by the time lost to disruption and disorder. Teachers and other school staff may recognize that a student is in desperate need of some special academic help or encouragement. But a disruptive environment may make finding the proper time or place to meet this need impossible. When disorder prohibits this type of exchange from taking place, students seeking help may turn in less positive directions and become unruly influences themselves or drop out of the system entirely. Schools must establish several different systems in order to ensure that all students behave in a way that will support the academic mission. Researchers have identified the need for three different systems. The majority of students respond favorably to school-wide discipline codes that are effectively taught and enforced in a rigorous and fair manner. About 5 percent to 15 percent of students require some additional support to comply with the school discipline code. An even smaller percentage of students are unable to meet the behavioral expectations of the school without very intensive supports such as alternative placement programs. Based on this research and the experiences of school staffs across the country, the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) has come to support seven essential elements to assure that schools are safe and orderly: (1) Enact district-wide discipline codes; (2) Teach students how to follow the discipline code and ensure that the code is rigorously and fairly enforced; (3) Implement effective classroom management practices; (4) Implement programs to modify student misbehavior; (5) Establish alternative placements that include "wrap-around" supports for chronically disruptive and violent students; (6) Develop school safety plans; and (7) Support the work of families, religious institutions and communities in developing sound character in children. It is noted that these elements may not entirely reverse the effect of a violent and chaotic society, but without them schools cannot be the safe havens that parents want and students and school staff need if learning is to take place.
Descriptors: Unions, School Safety, Classroom Techniques, Discipline, Educational Environment, Student Behavior, Student Needs, School Districts, Board of Education Policy, Classroom Environment, Behavior Modification, Violence, Behavior Disorders, Family Involvement, Community Involvement
American Federation of Teachers. 555 New Jersey Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20001. Tel: 202-879-4400; Web site: http://www.aft.org
Publication Type: Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: American Federation of Teachers, Washington, DC.