Jay Lacklen: Every child left behind

January 28, 2010 10:03:00 AM

Jay Lacklen - [email protected]


In an effort to make successful students out of all children, the American education system is thwarting and inhibiting the majority of students who must carry the heavy burden of disruptive, malcontented, students who destroy classroom discipline.  


I learned this the hard way, as a substitute teacher in another state. Just one day attempting to control a 5th grade social studies class awakened me to several truths.  


First, I was not a teacher; I was security guard. My primary task was not to enlighten young minds; it was to attempt to control, with a very small arsenal of disciplinary tools, a small group of rowdies. As a sub, I had no leverage. I couldn''t influence the student''s grades, I couldn''t grab them as they ran around the room, and my efforts at verbal control only seemed to embolden them. I finally had to physically block the prime instigator in a corner to dampen the mayhem.  


Second, the conscientious students were being woefully shortchanged on their educational opportunity. Every minute I spent trying to maintain control was a minute stolen from these bright, enthusiastic minds. While trying to leave no child behind, we are leaving all the children behind in the reduced quality of their education.  


Third, this travesty is being held in place, apparently, with the political correctness that seeks the often-cited equality of outcome while producing equality in mediocrity. While trying to bring along the socially challenged, we are only succeeding in shortchanging the academically motivated and the future American economy. Is this the outcome we desire? Was this our intent?  


I''d like to speak to three constituencies on this issue.  


To school boards: What are you doing? You live this problem every day, yet demand no change? If education is an industry, which it surely is, it cannot succeed with daily mayhem on the workroom floor. No industry could. Any other industry run this way would fail in the marketplace in short order. With education, however, the failure will come more slowly, but no less surely, for America in the competitive world economy.  


There must be a penalty box somewhere in the school where disruptive students can be corralled and kept until they earn their way out. I might suggest the auditorium where they are seated far from each other and rigidly kept in place while being instructed. I would even enjoy the challenge of instructing such students.  


To parents: What are you doing? Do you not know the condition in many classrooms? Have your children not described the mayhem to you? The schools will only be as good as you demand that they be, so start demanding.  


To students: What are you, the disruptive ones, doing? Do you imagine school is some sort of social punishment being unfairly inflicted upon you that awards you license to revolt? Do you see school as nothing more than a social playground made for you to frolic upon?  


School is your preparation for life in American society. If you behave in the workplace as you have in school you will not be long employed. For some unknown reason, society says schools have to put up with your nonsense, but no boss in the workplace will. They don''t give detention in the workplace; they give pink slips. School is where you should learn how to behave as a productive adult, except you are not learning.  


This will leave you on the bottom of the economic ladder for life. While your conscientious fellow students will soon be driving cars, you will be riding a bicycle.  


While the diligent students will lead interesting lives with interesting jobs, you may be lucky to get a job that you hate for the entirely of your 40 years in the workplace.  


While polite, studious students will work, perhaps, two minutes for a dollar at their job, you may have to work thirty minutes for each of your earned dollars.  


Are you being fair to yourself in your current delinquency? As the saying goes: The child is the father of the man. Why are you, as a final-stage child, destroying opportunity for the man, or woman, you will soon become and will be for the rest of your life?  


I have some sympathy for you because I fear no one has explained any of this to you, not your parents, your teachers, or the national bureaucrats who have misguidedly created this monstrosity of a system that has cheated you as well as the student''s whose education you are disrupting.  


I earnestly hope those who are supposed to teach you about life begin to do so, for everyone''s good.  


Jay Lacklen is a retired Air Force Reserve pilot, who flew missions in Vietnam and Iraq. Presently he is simulator instructor at CAFB and is writing a book about his experiences in the Air Force.