PBIS (Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports) Stepping Backwards

“All schools in North Carolina will implement Positive Behavior Support as an effective and proactive process for improving social competence and academic achievement for all students.” SO READS THE MANDATE.

The North Carolina Positive Behavioral Support Initiative is part of the North Carolina State Improvement Program funded through the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). This act is aimed at helping individuals with disabilities. Unfortunately, the approaches used in so many special education classes use 19th and 20th century external, manipulative, and coercive approaches.

Here is a simple case of punished by rewards: Susie does all the right things Nancy does. Nancy is rewarded, but Susie is not. Susie is punished by the system. Where is the fairness? Yet, this program is supposed to promote character education.

Here is another example from Carlette Jackson Hardin’s 2008 publication, “Effective Classroom Management,” pages 142-143:

The substitute teacher was surprised when a student asked if the class had earned a marble for the quiet way in which they had returned from lunch.

“I don’t understand. What do you mean that you earned a marble?”

A student explained, “Our teacher puts a marble in a jar if we walk back from the cafeteria quietly and in line. When the jar is full, we are given an afternoon with no work.”

Confused, the guest teacher asked, “But aren’t you supposed to walk quietly in the hall so that you don’t disturb other classes? Why should you earn a marble for doing what is right?”

The students looked to each other, confused at the question. Finally, a student tried to explain, “We always get a reward for following rules. Why else should we follow the rules?”

The more teachers control their students through reward systems, the more difficult it is for students to become moral people who think for themselves and care about others. –Alfie Kohn

Positive Behavioral Intervention and Supports makes a lot of sense until you start thinking about it. (As Dagwood Bumstead would put it.)

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