Where I work, teachers are encouraged to stand outside their classroom doors to greet students every day, every period. While I usually do this, more recently I end up inside my classroom with the door shut, shielding myself from the barrage of vulgarities vomiting from high school students.
Just the other day as I stood outside my door, a couple of students were shouting the s-word repeatedly.
As the boys walked past me, I asked them to watch their language. So what did they do when rounding the corner? Shouted the expletive even louder.
Welcome to high school 2020, where incalcitrant students run amuck and the adults have lost control of the school campus.
With the erosion of school discipline comes the rise of student misbehavior; neither fear nor shame of consequences or punishments inhibits it. There isn’t a hair of a hesitation in some students saying whatever they want whenever they want.
I have mentioned before, the environment on public school campuses will only get worse once Gov. Newsom’s new bill kicks in on July 1 when defying a teacher will barely register a disciplinary action.
Each new law limiting schools doling out suspensions is emboldening hooligans to wreak havoc in and out of the classroom.
Smart teachers know not to engage with students who are not their own. If a teacher chooses to interact with students misbehaving, the situation quickly devolves into a high blood pressure scenario where confrontation and defiance is the rule, and thuggery thrives. The bad kids go unpunished while the attentive teachers who try to hold students accountable go unsupported.
Students who don’t even know me, see a man as old as their uncle or grandfather, dressed formally in a sports jacket and a tie, who clearly is either a teacher or an administrator, yet my appearance does not matter. Respecting one’s elders or authority figures is not a behavior practiced in the home or elsewhere.
These foul-mouthed teens don’t care about the feelings of their peers who may not want to hear f-this and f-that all day long at their school. Oddly, there is a small patch of greenery on campus called the Peace Garden. And it is there where one will find some of the raunchiest language on a daily basis. So much for the peace.
It doesn’t help that we have a president who is foul-mouthed, saying “bull—” on live television without concern that children will hear his words.
Schools have cracked down on bullying and sexual harassment, but need to ensure that all disrespectful language is intolerable.
During my conference period recently, I noticed two male students walking ahead of me, brazenly walking past the open gate to the staff parking lot and exiting the campus.
Not one but two security guards were there. One of the students said “have a nice day” as they exited the campus.
I asked one of the guards if those students just cut class.
He said, “Oh, yes. They do it all the time. But our hands are tied. We are told not to approach them.”
If schools don’t hold the high standard that their campuses are safe havens for non-threatening words and actions, similar to places of worship, then schools fail. Often it is the one place where they will learn how to be decent and empathetic and kind. Foul language pollutes the atmosphere of learning which all schools should aspire to.
Once they graduate high school, the opportunity to teach young people how to behave civilly will have vanished, and they will march into society at large, less humane than earlier generations.