Do Unto Others?

Well, it finally happened here in the oil patch this past Sunday when my wife and I went to see a movie in Dickinson.

By PAT MERRIMAN

Dunn Co. State’s Attorney

A common event to be suffered through back in Missouri before we left 3 years ago, this rude, insufferable young guy yacking away on his cell phone to his buddy about basketball, mom and just about anything else I didn’t want to listen to directly behind me as the film rolled (or transmitted or emitted or whatever movies do today). And, that would have probably been just another erosion of the North Dakota courtesy I was used to and slid on down the drain of my frustration with this new breed of hedonistic knucklehead. Unfortunately, I tuned in to Fox News the next morning just in time to hear about the professor at Texas A&M who gave an “F” to the entire class in his Strategic Management course because of their boorish, rude, and disrespectful behavior. What? Not just in movie theaters and restaurants?

Reporter Scott Jaschik reports on April 27th that, “Irwin Horwitz had had enough. His students… weren’t performing well academically and they were being disruptive, rude and dishonest. So he sent the students in his strategic management class an email: ‘Since teaching this course, I have caught and seen cheating, been told to ‘chill out,’ ‘get out of my space,’ ‘go back and teach,’ [been] called a ‘f@#$ing moron’ to my face, [had] one student cheat by signing in for another, one student not showing up but claiming they did, listened to many hurtful and untrue rumors about myself and others, been caught between fights between students.” Just a teacher overreacting?

Not so it would seem. Horowitz had been repeatedly complaining to his administration with zero results. Texas A&M’s response? “The university has said that Horwitz’s failing grades will not stand.” They’re going to let the student council (the foxes) decide whether/not these students’ (the other foxes) should be punished for raiding the chicken coop. And, remember, it was not just the lack of respect but, also, the talking, cell phones, lap tops and the iPads too. Texting, e-newspapers, movies, actual calls taken and anything but paying attention in class. Similar complaints that, in 2010, led two professors who taught introductory engineering courses in chemistry at Ryerson University in Canada to stop personal disrespect and force students to actually pay attention in class, “after three warnings about disruptions such as cell phone discussions and movies playing on laptops, the professors would walk out of class and students would have to learn the rest of that day’s material themselves.” The end result? They were forced to abandon the practice after the students (and their parents) complained to administration.

A purely Canadian phenomenon? Nope! In 2008, philosophy professor Laurence Thomas at Syracuse University “sparked controversy” when he adopted a policy of leaving the classroom if he caught a student talking over him, texting or watching/reading a movie/newspaper on their E device. That policy didn’t last long either. Syracuse University’s response, “No comment.” A student’s response, “We the students are the customers…the ones who make the choice every day to pay attention or not. I pay… to go here, whether I text in class or not. Laurence Thomas gets paid whether his students text in class or not…he [should] have shrugged it off and continued with his lecture, which he is getting paid to do. {Leaving his] lecture only serves to highlight his own selfishness, as he will get paid while his paying students are having their time and money wasted. He needs to get over himself here.” Really? You arrogant little [fill in the blank]! That’s the solution? A PhD superior is your hired minion to be treated with disrespect because “you’re paying for this”?

Unfortunately, public elementary/secondary schools are inundated with the same phenomenon too. As reported by publicagenda.org on May 11, 2004, ELEVEN YEARS AGO, public schools were “[a] growing culture of challenge and second guessing, including the fear of lawsuits…undermining classroom order, hindering learning and driving teachers out of the classroom.” All key findings of a national study of teachers and parents which concluded that only a handful of trouble makers cause most disciplinary problems and, “the tyranny of the few leads to a distracting and disrespectful atmosphere. Teachers in particular complain about the growing willingness of some students and parents to challenge teacher judgment and threaten legal action.” You mean the selfish few undermine the many? NO WAY!

The findings of theis national study showed that there is no conflict between parents and teachers either. They both, overwhelming (over 95%), agree that “good discipline and behavior are prerequisite for a successful school…[and] it is the public schools’ job to teach kids to follow the rules so they are ready to join society.” In addition, 80% of actual teachers said their “school has students who should be removed and sent to alternative schools.” And, almost 75% of parents agreed that “parents’ failure to teach their children discipline [at home]ranked as one of the biggest causes of school behavior problems.” So, what’s the problem if most of us in the trenches all agree?

Reporter Elizabeth Weil reports on September 2, 2013, that negotiation NOT discipline has become the national norm since the 2004 report. That’s right, despite what teachers and parents, overwhelmingly want, this shrink-wrapped “self restraint” policy dispenses with discipline (do this or be punished) in favor of the good ‘ol toddler discipline dodge we see everywhere in American culture, i.e., “If you’ll be good for 15 minutes, I’ll give you a piece of candy. The underlying liberal theory? “[A child] is a paragon of self-restraint, a savant of delayed gratification. He’ll go on, or so the psychologists say, to show the straight-and-narrow qualities required to secure life’s sweeter and more elusive prizes: high SAT scores, money, health.” Really? Reward the child for doing what he/she is supposed to be doing (the dull norm) anyway? That works? And, by the by, how is that  kid doing with reading, writing and arithmetic with this hands-off policy? Not well!

As reported by New York Post Reporter Paul Sperry on March 14, 2015, the problem is a pressing one. He decries this shift from actual discipline to negotiation, “New York public-school students caught stealing, doing drugs or even attacking someone can avoid suspension under new ‘progressive’ discipline rules adopted this month. Most likely, they will be sent to a talking circle instead, where they can discuss their feelings.” New York’s hypothesis for this change in policy? “Convinced traditional discipline is racist because blacks are suspended at higher rates than whites, New York City’s Department of Education has in all but the most serious and dangerous offenses replaced out-of-school suspensions with a touchy-feely alternative punishment called ‘restorative justice,’ which isn’t really punishment at all. It’s therapy.”

Will it work? Sperry continues, “everywhere it’s been tried, this softer approach has backfired.” Washington, DC, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, San Diego, Oakland and other big cities throw the good students under the bus in favor of no suspensions “except for the worst offenses, and only then with the consent of a district supervisor.” It is the rankest form of the immature tail wagging the superior dog, in this “Lord of the Flies” nonsense, that has now taken root everywhere. Oh, well, all I wanted to do was watch a really bad movie with my wife in peace and quiet last Sunday. Sounds like a pipe dream now.


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