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Dallas School District Wants Parents Sent To The Principal’s Office When Their Kids Are Naughty

To solve the problem of misbehavior, district officials are recommending classes on solving the problem of misbehavior.

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In order to deal with misbehavior and reduce suspensions, district officials at Dallas Independent School District are proposing a required class for parents of bad students.

These parenting classes are supposed to reduce the number of placements in discipline alternative education programs (DEAP) and give guidance on discipline, overviews of student performance, and resources on improving student outcomes and mental health — or so says the school district (DISD).

Additionally, there is a proposal to revise the school speech code to include special punishments for so-called hate speech. Presumably, parents of children who use racial or homophobic slurs could be required to come in for classes on how to be less hateful.

To be clear, to solve the problem of misbehavior, these district officials are recommending classes on solving the problem of misbehavior. Based on the description given, these classes won’t offer solutions but only resources and guides that may help parents find a solution themselves.

There are two obvious contradictions with this. The first and most obvious is the circular logic. According to the DISD officials, a parenting class will solve the problem of misbehavior because it’s a parenting class on solving misbehavior, and the people teaching these classes are qualified to teach them because they are qualified teachers. True, this is an obvious instance of the blind leading the blind, but at least someone is leading someone else, which suggests some kind of progress. If no progress is made, then it must be the fault of systemic injustice somewhere. 

This leads to the second fallacy of begging the question, or basing an argument on an unproved assumption. In this case, DISD officials are assuming students misbehave because their parents simply don’t know how to raise them. They have automatically ruled out that these students are disengaged, distracted, bullied, or corrupted by some bad influence, and are instead designing a class for ignorant parents. Consequently, some officials are already considering whether they have enough money to adequately fund such a program, not even bothering to consider whether the program addresses the issue at hand. 

Setting aside the condescending attitude toward parents and the utter lack of student accountability, this kind of approach to solving a problem is its own problem because it’s so prevalent in public school districts. This is what happens when “educrats” (people in offices far away from students) rather than educators (people in classrooms with students) take over. Like bureaucrats in other institutions, the ones in education only exist to complicate operations and necessitate even more bureaucrats. I witnessed this repeatedly in my experience with DISD, both as a student and a teacher.  

Case in point: In the old days, a student who called his classmate a racial slur (which, in a majority-minority district, happens far more often than anyone cares to admit), would be sent to the principal and receive a punishment (e.g., a call home and a few days of detention). Now this same student would be sent to a committee of people including a counselor, an administrator, a DEI coordinator, and a random learning specialist for good measure. The group would then all confer on registering this student’s parents for a week-long class on being less racist. Of course, to make sure this all works out, multiple packets of documentation would be assigned to everyone involved in this Kafkaesque disciplinary nightmare. 

Worse still, the whole process would do nothing to curb misbehavior and would likely worsen the situation since most teachers and administrators would simply ignore the behavior to avoid the headache. Thus, instead of punishing the student at fault, educrats have created a process that punishes teachers wanting an orderly classroom and parents trusting schools to teach their children how to behave.

Nevertheless, all this looks like a victory from the educrats’ point of view. Not only have they proposed a useless program that expands their reach and influence, but they look pretty good doing it. Public school supporters will point to the proposal for parenting classes as evidence that reform is happening and that the real problem lies with those pesky parents.

Of course, the truth is exactly the opposite: This proposal demonstrates that public school districts, especially sprawling urban ones like DISD, have become fully unhinged in their approach to student discipline. The goal is to waste more taxpayer dollars on programs that inevitably create more problems. 

If only there were some incentive to raise standards while doing so effectively and efficiently.

Fortunately, there is. It’s called school choice, and its implementation would allow tax dollars to be allocated to the students and their teachers, not to useless educrats. Instead of being summoned to useless classes for their wayward children, parents could simply enroll them in a school that meets their needs. For their part, teachers and principals could dole out appropriate punishment without the usual bureaucratic hassle that plagues public schools.

Under the school-choice model, the problem of poor student discipline could be resolved quickly and cheaply, which would then allow all relevant parties at the school (i.e., “stakeholders”) to move on to more important issues such as raising academic standards, improving student performance, and building a stronger school community. At this point, there’s little to lose (unless one’s an educrat) and everything to gain. 


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