by Conn Carroll
Charlottesville High School was forced to cancel school last Friday after teachers refused to show up for work because of too much fighting between students.
“On the very first day of school, kids were told, ‘Off and away,’” one anonymous staffer told the Daily Progress. “The phones did not go off and away. The next thing you know, we have a revolution on our hands because they realized that there’s no enforcement of that rule. And then they discover there’s no enforcement of the rule of having to go to class. And if you mess with the principal, there’s no punishment.”
Not that Charlottesville High School even has a principal to mess with. Principal Rashaad Pitt announced his resignation earlier this month.
It was school policy not to punish students for breaking the rules, according to some CHS staffers. CHS counselor David Wilkerson wrote on Facebook, “The [Virginia Department of Education] would prefer that the data shows that no kids are being punished due to the correlation between punishing kids and a poor graduation rate. Administrators keep asking kids to do things that they do not wish to do and in the absence of consequences, the kids expand their misbehavior.”
Charlottesville High School is a majority minority high school, and 44% of students are economically disadvantaged.
“When kids are using profanity to explain to the teacher why they’re not going to go to class, they often include verbal threats,” another anonymous staffer told the Daily Progress. “There are just so many kids that are willing to be physical very quickly. I’m sure there are some teachers that fear they can be the next target.”
Students from disadvantaged backgrounds need the structure of a well-disciplined environment more than anyone else. Educators are not doing anyone any favors when they don’t punish students who misbehave.
Yes, some students might suffer if they are expelled or arrested. But far more will suffer if violent and disobedient students come to believe there are no consequences for their actions and are entitled to do and say whatever they want.
That only leads to more fights, more violence, more closed schools, and less learning for the children who need it most.