Brashear & discipline
By The Tribune-Review
Published: Sunday, Dec. 1, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
What I remember from my time teaching at Brashear High School was suppression of information and lack of transparency. The administration's only concern was numbers. “Show me the data” was its mantra when queried about anything. Years of unanswered questions from teachers about lax student discipline enforcement, beginning in 2009, preceded the shootings of Brashear students.
Students mocked teachers issuing disciplinary referrals. One student told me that “we have juice in the office.” Obviously, the administration wanted to see fewer discipline referrals, detentions and suspensions.
Questions abound. How does a school go from 583 reported incidents of disorderly conduct in 2009-10 to zero in 2012-13 (“Judge wants DA's office to investigate incident that led to shooting outside Brashear High School,” Nov. 16 and TribLIVE.com), especially when students were assaulted or robbed? Were grades skewed to reflect better achievement? Are teachers threatened about talking to the media? If so, why?
Finally, do Pittsburgh Public Schools administrators and principals receive bonuses or funding from the federal or state governments for reporting improvements in discipline, attendance, academics and graduation rates?
Maybe District Judge James A. Motznik was right when he said, “I understand (the district) wants incident report numbers to come down, but selective prosecution is not a way to do that.” Besides, selective education and discipline concerning any student(s) is discriminatory and illegal.
Nobel laureate economist Ronald Coase said it best: “(I)f you torture the data enough, nature will always confess.”
The writer is a retired Pittsburgh Public Schools teacher.
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