Dear Editor

Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 4, 2004

I recently read that Demopolis City Schools are facing a recurring problem with student ‘discipline.’

This cycle results in an increased number of students being expelled ‘late in the school year.’

January is not late in the school year; but, I am more concerned about the inability of our system to find solutions to a problem described by Dr Hill, the Superintendent, as a recurring yearly problem.

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The system should take a look at the big picture. Discipline is an on-going process of teaching self respect and self control. Years of valid research in medical, psychological and educational fields has demonstrated that both of these qualities can be taught by consistent use of age appropriate non-violent discipline and behavior modeling. 27 states legally ban school corporal punishment yet most score higher that Alabama on national standard tests.

Schools must seek solutions, not continue to place problem children on the street where they are likely to enter the justice system and never return to school. I read with interest that a student can be expelled for a first time offense involving hitting a school employee.

I agree that this is a serious offense and may require expulsion but why does this not also apply when a school employee hits a student?

Respect is a two way street and should be demonstrated by all people regardless of age, power or authority.

Hitting is not a solution to a problem, regardless of one’s age and it never fosters respect.

Hitting a student demonstrates a lack of self control and an inability to problem solve by the school.

Self respect and violence are learned behaviors.

I only wish that the school administrators had learned these lessons when they were in school.

Michaela Curtis

Alabama Center for Effective Discipline