Taking discipline a bit too far

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 12, 2003

The other day I happened to browsing on the Internet looking for stories for the paper, when I came across an interesting news blurb on CNN's web site.

Apparently more than 20 students at Danville High School in Pennsylvania took part in a food fight, which has resulted in the superintendent of the school system there pondering not allowing some seniors to attend this week's graduation ceremony and if that is not punishment enough the police chief is also considering filing disorderly conduct charges against several of the students who participated in the melee, with the charge carrying a fine of up to $300.

Upon reading this story, the first question that came to mind is whether discipline problems in high schools have reached the point where superintendents and police chiefs will have to handle duties of discipline formerly regulated by school principals and teachers.

In regards to discipline, schools are a much different place than when I was a student, and that is not a good thing.

When I was a student, discipline was still a very key component of schools, and students knew that if there were incidents of horseplay, such as food fights, or even

running in the halls,

they would likely be addressed by a good paddling, and we had some teachers and principals who could inflict some serious pain with a paddle.

This was before the current era of many schools being led around by the nose by know-it-all psychologists straight from the Oprah Winfrey Show or the Dr. Phil Show and the removal of any sense of structure from our schools. But of course prayer has also basically been eliminated from our schools as well, so that is no major surprise.

There is nothing wrong with discipline, and although I cannot say I always loved all of my teachers, I did respect them, because I knew they had the ability to punish me if I did not behave in an orderly manner.

For the most part, I doubt if there is much respect for teachers or principals now as their ability to discipline has been stripped away and the fact that teachers now have to have permission from a student's parents to paddle him or her is nonsense.

Of course there have been certain incidents where teachers or principals have likely abused the power to punish, but for the most part I have faith in teachers and wholeheartedly believe that school officials only choose to punish, specifically with paddling, if it is only necessary, and feel they should continue to have that option if so needed.

Students know that power has been stripped away, and they are now able to run the show, which is an extremely sad statement.

Although I have no knowledge about the Danville High School incident other than what I read, perhaps it was a case of discipline problems reaching the point where the police chief and superintendent said enough is enough and if the teachers and principal cannot control the students, maybe they can.

Makes for an interesting thought anyway.

Sooner or later, I hope that today's schools might take a trip back in time, back to a time where teachers and principals are allowed to teach, and to punish, and we don't have to control our students with criminal charges.