In response to the 10/22/2013 post, Getting Rid of ISS – Part 4,” a reader writes”

“Academic issues are not our primary goal, but, developing good citizens is.” 

Where is the line drawn? 

Our young people are still young enough to be influenced, and they need to be taught boundaries, so dress codes are needed.  They are not college students, and many still need developmental skills in college, because they are not college material.  Conduct, appearance, behavior, manners are MORE important than academics.  The reason we have so many UN-developed students showing up at college is because we have continuously dropped our standards of what is required from students, so anything goes. 

Many unshaven students in middle and high school have facial hair growth that outdoes the male teachers.  No matter how we have “given in” to student-parent demands for “whatever goes,” it has NOT upgraded student educational growth. 

ISS, at least, sends SOME message.

SC Response Each campus has to define its line.  On my campuses (inner city, high poverty student populations) the line was delineated as, “Preparation for higher education and successfully navigating the middle class dynamic.” 

Meaning my staff understood that our students needed as much education they could get AND middle class social skill competence if they were to have a fighting chance to improve their station.  We knew to the core of our being that we were the nexus to the middle class and that it was our calling to change lives.

What (and who) exactly is college material?  And who are you (and me) to decide that someone is or is not? 

Our job in PK-12 is not to sort students, which so many in our profession want to do.  Our job is to elevate every student to expand his or her opportunity set.  One of my favorite stories is of John Montelongo’s first year as a principal.  The year prior to his arrival at his campus, 12% of the graduates enrolled in post high school education programs (military, trade school, community college, 4-yr college).  The very next year, over 80% of the graduates enrolled in post high school education programs.  The student body didn’t change. It was adult attitude, practice, and expectation that changed.  And the students responded in a positive manner.  

Academics and the behaviors that support academic success are paramount, but you do not build this in the student body thru intimidation and punishment.  I remind everyone, if punishment worked, recidivism would evaporate.  But I have yet to observe that phenomena in a punishment environment.  You build positive behaviors and outcomes by modeling the expected behaviors, coaching the expected behaviors, rewarding the expected behaviors and remediating deviations from the expectations. Is this more difficult than covering content and blaming students? Yes.  Does it work? Absolutely!

If I’m reduced to sending my message thru ISS, then most likely the only message I’m communicating is, “Do as I say, not as I do.”

Trust me, too many of our students get that message all day, every day.   

Think. Work. Achieve. Your turn…

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