Discipline and Tenure

The Los Angeles Times reported on July 1, 2014 that, according to a poll conducted by a Stanford-based research center and the University of Southern California’s Rossier School of Education, California parents support weakening teacher job protections that were the subject of a high profile trial in Los Angeles. The lawsuit (which is on appeal) overturned teacher tenure laws that made it difficult to remove ineffective teachers, many of whom were assigned to poor and minority schools.

One of the main challenges is that many new teachers are assigned to schools with large minority populations, and these new teachers have not had proper training in classroom management, discipline, or how to handle behavior problems. For example, new teachers are taught that discipline and classroom management are the same, which it most definitely is not. As a result, new teachers walk into their first classroom not knowing that classroom management has to do with teaching procedures, and they have no idea how to handle discipline and behavior problems in a way that does not place them in the role of a police officer who enforces rules.

Simply stated, discipline has to do with behavior and is the student’s responsibility. In contrast, classroom management has to do with making instruction efficient and is the teacher’s responsibility. This concept, along with tools and suggestions for teachers, is explained in detail in my book Discipline Without Stress.

If you were a parent and found that your child’s teacher was not properly trained to be a positive influence in your child’s life, chances are that you would not want that teacher in the profession and would agree with the poll. What are your thoughts on teacher tenure?